ISP RCN and BMG Agree to Settle Internet Piracy Lawsuit

Last year, US-based Internet provider RCN sued music publisher BMG, asking the court to declare that it's not liable for copyright infringements committed by its customers. After dozens of filings the case, which involved anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, has suddenly come to an end, with the parties agreeing to settle their differences - in private.

In common with many other Internet service providers in the United States, RCN receives its fair share of copyright infringement notices, including sizeable numbers from anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp.

These notices, sent on behalf of music rights group BMG, are paired with settlement demands which Rightscorp expects RCN customers to pay at around $30 per shot. On top, the anti-piracy outfit and its client previously warned the ISP that if it did not take appropriate action against its allegedly infringing subscribers, it could be held liable.

That claim lit a fire under RCN who responded with a lawsuit filed against BMG at a New York federal court last summer.

“The central question for this Court’s determination is whether an Internet service provider should be held liable for copyright infringement simply because it provides Internet connectivity to its customers,” RCN wrote.

“BMG’s repeated assertions that RCN is liable for copyright infringement lack merit. RCN therefore seeks a judgment from this Court declaring that it is not liable to BMG for copyright infringement.”

Last September, RCN submitted an amended complaint which revealed how BMG put it under pressure take action against subscribers while demanding compensation. The rights group said that RCN had failed to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers, despite receiving millions of notices.

“We are hopeful that a resolution of this ongoing and damaging infringement can be reached. To that end, we suggest the parties meet to discuss a settlement that would include a means of preventing or limiting future infringement and appropriate compensation to BMG,” the letter from BMG read.

Since then the case has continued with filings back and forth. However, two weeks ago it was revealed that progress had been made, with lawyers for both RCN and BMG informing the court that an agreement had been reached in principle to settle the matter peacefully.

“We write to inform Your Honor that the parties have reached an agreement in principle to settle this matter without Court intervention and are in the process of executing the same. We expect a dismissal with prejudice of this matter to be filed shortly,” the letter dated March 16 reads.

Then, on Wednesday this week, the previously warring factions informed the court it was all over.

Neither party has indicated what the settlement entails but since the case has been dismissed with prejudice, it cannot be revived again in the future.

With the parties paying their own legal bills there’s a suggestion that things might stop there financially, but it remains unclear whether RCN has agreed to deal with its pirating subscribers in a more aggressive manner, as originally requested by BMG.

In any event, it seems likely that the BMG v Cox Communications case has hung heavy on this dispute, at least from RCN’s perspective. That case is currently going to appeal but with a $25m ruling in BMG’s favor (not to mention $8m bill in legal costs for Cox), taking big risks along similar lines was probably not high on the agenda for RCN.

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