Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Judge: Cox Must Pay $1B For Copyright Infringement

A federal court has ordered mega-ISP Cox Communications to pay the entire $1 billion copyright infringement penalty that a jury levied against it in December of 2019, as part of its years-long courtroom confrontation with the RIAA and the Big Three labels, reports Digital Music News.

The underlying lawsuit between Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered Cox Communications and the RIAA initiated in late July of 2018, when the major labels formally alleged that Cox had reaped substantial profits from “massive copyright infringement committed by thousands of its subscribers.”

A jury in late December of 2019 agreed with the plaintiffs, finding Cox Communications guilty of both vicarious and contributory infringement on some 10,017 works – and attaching a $99,830.29 fee to each of the alleged violations, bringing the grand damages total to just over $1 billion. (The amount was rounded down to $1 billion even on the “total damages” line.) Then, in early June of 2019, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady dismissed the majority of Cox’s challenges against the stunning verdict, but indicated that the disclosed total of 10,017 allegedly infringed works may have been “premature.”

Consequently, Judge O’Grady granted Cox Communications time to provide an updated list, accounting specifically for claims that “certain works at issue were derivative of others.” The court would proceed to use this list (along with that provided by the plaintiffs) to determine the precise number of copyright infringement instances and, in turn, the total damages owed.

Now, two new legal documents, shared with Digital Music News Tuesday afternoon, reveal that Judge O’Grady has upheld the $99,830.29 in damages for each of the allegedly infringed works – or a rounded-down total of $1 billion.

In a six-page-long order (dated today, January 12th), Judge O’Grady explained that whether the plaintiffs, including Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music, “are entitled to statutory damages for derivative works is a question of law, and one that has been answered in the negative by case law persuasive to the Court.”

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