Internet service provider Cox Communications engaged in “alarming misconduct” by failing to adequately address copyright infringement by subscribers, a group of record labels contend in new court papers.
“The trial evidence repeatedly showed that Cox said one thing and did another,” the record labels write in papers filed Friday with U.S. District Court Judge Liam O'Grady in Alexandria, Virginia. “Time and time again, Cox made clear that it unreasonably prioritized collecting subscription fees from infringers over addressing its rampant infringement problem.”
The record labels are asking O'Grady to uphold a jury's decision finding the company responsible for piracy by subscribers, and ordering it to pay $1 billion in damages.
The legal fight dates to 2018, when Sony and other music companies sued Cox for allegedly turning a blind eye to infringement by users who shared music through peer-to-peer software.
Last year a federal jury found that Cox failed to take reasonable measures to stem subscribers from pirating more than 10,000 tracks. The jury returned a verdict of $1 billion, or nearly $100,000 per song.
Cox recently argued that he verdict against it should be reversed for numerous reasons, including that it didn't benefit financially from the alleged piracy. The company added that its user agreement prohibited copyright infringement, and that its policies discouraged piracy.
But the record labels counter that Cox failed to terminate repeat offenders, despite having a written policy that provided for termination.
“Cox still fails to grapple with the distinctive facts of this case or its alarming misconduct,” the labels write. “Cox’s willful misconduct spanned years and caused incalculable monetary losses and other harms to plaintiffs and their artists and songwriters, including due to the viral nature of the infringing activity.”
Cox previously settled a similar lawsuit by the record label BMG. In that matter, Cox initially argued that it was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provisions, which immunize Internet service providers from liability for infringement by users -- but only if the broadband providers have policies for handling repeat offenders.
A federal appellate court rejected Cox's argument in that matter in 2018, ruling that even though the company had a repeat-offender policy, it failed to implement it.