Court Orders Cox to Expose “Most Egregious” BitTorrent Pirates

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Cox Communications, one of the largest telecoms companies in the U.S., has been ordered to expose the identities of 250 of its subscribers whose accounts were frequently used to pirate music. The names, addresses and other personal details were requested in an ongoing lawsuit where the ISP is accused of failing to disconnect repeat copyright infringers.

cox-logo Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case revolves around the “repeat infringer” clause of the DMCA, which prescribes that Internet providers must terminate the accounts of persistent pirates.

As part of the discovery process the music outfits requested details on the accounts which they caught downloading their content. In total there are 150,000 alleged pirates, but as a compromise BMG and Round Hill limited their initial request to 500 IP-addresses.

Cox refused to hand over the requested information arguing that the Cable Privacy Act prevents the company from disclosing this information.

The matter was discussed during a court hearing late last week. After a brief deliberation Judge John Anderson ruled that the ISP must hand over the personal details of 250 subscribers.

“Defendants shall produce customer information associated with the Top 250 IP Addresses recorded to have infringed in the six months prior to filing the Complaint,” Judge Anderson writes.

“This production shall include the information as requested in Interrogatory No.13, specifically: name, address, account number, the bandwidth speed associated with each account, and associated IP address of each customer.”

The order

coxorder

The music companies also asked for the account information of the top 250 IP-addresses connected to the piracy of their files after the complaint was filed, but this request was denied. Similarly, if the copyright holders want information on any of the 149,500 other Cox customers they need a separate order.

The music companies previously informed the court that the personal details are crucial to proof their direct infringement claims, but it’s unclear how they plan to use the data.

While none of the Cox customers are facing any direct claims as of yet, it’s not unthinkable that some may be named in the suit to increase pressure on the ISP.

The full list of IP-addresses is available for download here (PDF).

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