Friday 19 August 2016

Judgment against Cox opens up ISP liability in the USA

Cox Communications has been ordered to pay a $25 million dollar penalty for copyright infringements to the music rights management company BMG by a federal judge. The ruling follows a jury decision which found Cox liable for illegal movie and music downloads by its customers. The company's behaviour amounted to wilful infringement of copyright in the eyes of the jury.

The Eastern Virginia District Court dismissed Cox’s appeal of the earlier verdict, and ordered Cox to pay BMG $25m in damages for copyright infringement - a ruling which may have widespread repercussions for online copyright infringement in the US. The court decided that Cox did not do enough to stop users pirating music from BMG, and therefore did not qualify for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ‘safe harbor’ protections.

Crucially, BMG provided evidence that its agent, Rightscorp,  had identified individual infringers and then alerted Cox to their wrongdoing - which Cox then failed to act on.  In a statement, Rightscorp said: “For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk of incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights." adding “Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers’ actions – even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence.  “Although Rightscorp was not a party in this case, we are delighted with the outcome. The Federal District Court declared the liability of ISPs to be precisely what Rightscorp has been saying it is for years,” said Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec.

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