The major music labels scored a major victory Thursday in their copyright-infringement suit against Cox Communications when a Virginia jury ruled against the cable giant to the tune of $1 billion.
EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal Music sued Cox last year, alleging the mass piracy of 10,000-plus songs by the company’s subscribers. The labels say they sent “hundreds of thousands” of warnings about the infringement to the No. 3 cable provider before taking the issue to court. The jury in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found today that the infringement was willful and awarded $1 billion in damages — nearly $100,000 per infringed work.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the labels’ trade association, had argued that Cox did not enforce its own policies that cover repeat infringed copyrights. The group surmised that Cox should not receive “safe harbor” protection and therefore should be held liable for said infringements.
“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message: Cox and other ISPs that fail to meet their legal obligations to address piracy on their networks will be held accountable,” the RIAA’s chief legal officer Kenneth Doroshow said in a statement. “The jury recognized these companies’ legal obligation to take meaningful steps to protect music online and made a strong statement about the value of a healthy music ecosystem for everyone — ranging from creators to fans to the available outlets for legitimate music consumption.”
Cox said in a statement: “We are disappointed in the court’s decision. The amount is unjust and excessive. We plan to appeal the case and vigorously defend ourselves. We provide customers with a powerful tool that connects to a world full of content and information. Unfortunately, some customers have chosen to use that connection for wrongful activity. We don’t condone it, we educate on it and we do our best to help curb it, but we shouldn’t be held responsible for the bad actions of others.”
Cox last year had settled separate long-running copyright-infringement litigation with BMG for $25 million.