Cox Communications was fined $1 billion in piracy infringement


Palak Arora 21/01/21 #copyright #patent #trademarks #infringement #blogging #intellectualproperty #IPR #IPRinfo #IPlaw #IPRrights #Trademarkclickcom #IP #lawfirms #lawyers #legalmarketing #entrepreneur #IPRBlog #IPBlog #CoxCommunication #Sony #Universal #Warner #USA #piracy

The cable and internet service provider has been held liable recently in a judgment for committing piracy infringement of over 10,000 musical works on its network. The case was filed by Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and EMI. A U.S. District Court judge decided against Cox Communications and upheld the verdict of $1 billion. Upheld verdict founded the cable and internet service provider liability in case of piracy infringement of approximately 10,000 musical works on its network.

A jury agreed with plaintiffs which were Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and EMI on the point that Cox deliberately chose to refuse to take reasonable measures to curb the issue of copyright infringers. Even after becoming aware of various incidents of infringement by its customers. Cox was held liable for committing infringement on exactly 10,017 pieces of work. Thus, it was fined $99,830.29 per work which amounted to $1 billion in total in statutory damages.

Cox’s motion for a new trial was denied which is applied for after the verdict. Although the court granted the company’s motion to challenge the number of damages it was directed to pay. Such grant was given after listening to the argument of Cox that some of the 10,017 works were derivative of others whose claims were overlapping between sound recordings and musical compositions and thus, they were ineligible for getting awarded separate statutory damage in this regard. In a stage of the post-trial brief where Cox presented evidence of its act of infringement on only 7,579 works. Judge Liam O'Grady subsequently granted both Cox and the plaintiffs the time of 60 days to provide evidence in support of their assertions.

But in the later ruling, Judge Liam O’Grady said, “The court was wrong in rendering that decision, instead of arguing that Cox was responsible for providing sufficient evidence of the duplicative works during the jury trial, not in a post-trial brief and that its failure to do so renders the original verdict ironclad. Clearly, the number of derivative works in play, in this case, was a question for the jury.” O’Grady further wrote, “The jury answered that question with the information available, and Cox did not provide the information to the jury that it has provided to the Court in its post-trial brief.”

This $1 billion verdict against Cox came after four years of the judgment where it was ordered to pay $25 million in damages to BMG in a separate copyright suit. That suit was decided in the month of December 2015. However, that decision was reversed in an appeal in early 2018 and subsequently was ordered for a retrial. But later a settlement between Cox and BMG took place for a substantial amount before the commencement of a new trial.

With an increase in development and awareness of IPR laws, record labels and publishers started acting more diligently in respect of targeting cable and internet service providers in an attempt to tamp down on cases of copyright infringement. Similarly, an incident took place in March 2019 were more than 50 music companies filed a joint suit against Charter Communications. Charter communications are also engaged in the cable business as Spectrum. Charter was alleged by those 50 music companies that deliberately refused to combat its customers’ acts of infringement that too after becoming aware of several specific and repeated acts of infringement and it also preferred to ignore the statutory infringement notices sent by copyright holders. In the month of August 2019, a similar lawsuit was filed against internet service provider RCN Corporation where it was alleged for taking no meaningful action to curb the ongoing theft. Both these cases are still pending in court.

Texas-based ISP Grande Communications has also been dragged into an extended legal battle with the RIAA in which RIAA accused the company that it failed to tackle the issue of copyright pirates. That lawsuit was filed in the month of April 2017.

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