October 17, 2018
As reported by Digital Music News, the multinational music licensing body, BMG, has recently reached a settlement regarding its copyright infringement suit against Cox Communications (“Cox”), one of the largest internet service providers in the United States.
The dispute, which began in 2014, centered around Cox’s alleged failure to shut down the accounts of customers who were known to have pirated material. In response, Cox claimed the “safe harbour” defence under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides leniency for service providers where they are unaware that there is copyrighted material on their network. Alternatively, BMG alleged that Cox knew that customers were infringing BMG’s copyrights but still refused to terminate the customers’ accounts
BMG was initially awarded $25 million in damages at the conclusion of a December, 2015 trial. The decision was overturned due to faulty jury instructions. Prior to a retrial, BMG was given the green light by US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to use words such as “stealing” or “theft” in their submissions. Shortly thereafter, BMG accepted a settlement from Cox.
Despite BMG’s reference to this exchange as a “landmark case”, no legal precedent was created since the dispute was settled out of court. As such, it will be interesting to see how a similar copyright infringement suit against Cox, brought by industry heavyweights Sony, Universal and Warner Bros, unfolds.
Author: Sam Galway