Broadband Provider Hit With $47 Million Verdict Over Piracy By Subscribers

A Texas jury has said a broadband provider should pay $47 million to record labels for failing to police copyright infringement by consumers.

The verdict comes in a lawsuit brought in 2017 by Universal Music Group, Warner Records and other record companies against Astound Broadband's Grande Communications. The record labels alleged that Grande contributed to piracy by failing to take “meaningful action” against customers accused of sharing copyrighted music.

A jury concluded late last week that the labels proved Grande contributed to infringement of 1,403 works, and awarded damages of $3,333 per work.

The record companies' complaint against Grande, brought in federal court in Austin, alleged that the provider allowed “repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence.”

The labels added the Grande allegedly “refused to take any meaningful action ...let alone suspend or terminate subscribers who repeatedly commit copyright infringement through its network.”



Record labels have brought similar lawsuits against other internet service providers, including Cox, Charter and RCN.

Earlier this year, Charter settled with the music labels for an undisclosed amount.

In December of 2019, a jury in Virginia found Cox contributed to consumers' piracy by failing to terminate accounts of repeat offenders, and ordered the company to pay $1 billion in damages.

Cox appealed the ruling to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in March.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge, which sided with Cox in a friend-of-the-court brief, says upholding the jury's verdict will “set a dangerous precedent, causing broadband providers to cut off users more frequently, with less cause, in an effort to avoid the possibility of having to pay such hefty damages.”

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