The so-called ‘Six-Strikes’ Copyright Alert System was once praised as an excellent tool to address online piracy.
Under the agreement, which involved the MPAA and RIAA, several large Internet providers in the US sent copyright infringement warnings to pirating customers.
After repeated alerts, these subscribers would face a variety of ‘mitigation’ measures but their accounts would not be terminated. Although rightsholders and ISPs appeared happy with the deal, it was shut down two years ago.
Instead of cooperating with ISPs, several RIAA labels then took another approach. They filed lawsuits against Internet providers for not doing enough to curb piracy. Specifically, companies such as Charter and Cox were sued for failing to disconnect repeat infringers.
The lawsuit between several music companies and Cox is ongoing and currently scheduled to go to trial later this year. Both parties are conducting discovery and the ISP has shown a keen interest in the aforementioned Copyright Alert System (CAS).
Cox itself didn’t take part in the voluntary anti-piracy scheme, but it believes that its existence can help the company’s defense. As such, it obtained a subpoena and repeatedly requested the RIAA to hand over relevant documents that show how effective it was.
However, the RIAA is not eager to cooperate. Thus far it has denied all of the requests, which prompted Cox to take the matter to court this week. The ISP asks the District of Columbia federal court to order the music industry group to comply with the subpoena and hand over the requested data.
“This motion to compel concerns the production of the reports and data generated by ISPs and sent to the RIAA regarding the number of copyright infringement notices forwarded to unique subscribers on a monthly basis that were intended to allow the RIAA to assess the effectiveness of CAS over time,” Cox writes.
Thus far the RIAA has refused to produce any documents concerning the Copyright Alert System, stating that these are irrelevant. However, Cox clearly disagrees and, in its motion, the company suggests that the data are crucial.
The ISP believes that its own measures could have been more effective than the CAS. Cox had, at least on paper, a twelve-strike policy which it said could lead to actual account terminations.
“Cox has taken the position that its graduated response was a more effective method for combating alleged copyright infringement than the CAS because, among other things, it provided for the termination of certain
‘repeat infringers’,” the ISP writes.
This would be at odds with the music labels claims in the lawsuit which state that Cox’s policy was insufficient, especially since the RIAA and other music industry insiders praised the CAS as ‘a model for success.’
With the requested documents, Cox likely wants to compare the effectiveness of the CAS with its own measures. If the company can show that its own policy was more effective than the music industry-backed scheme, it has an interesting point to make.
“The effectiveness of the measures detailed in the CAS and that the ISPs implemented for responding to the copyright infringement notices endorsed by the RIAA and the Sony plaintiffs—is therefore highly relevant to the Sony litigation,” Cox writes.
The ISP stresses that it’s crucial to get all the relevant information, not least because there’s $1.5 billion in possible copyright infringement damages hanging over its head. As such, it urges the Court to grant the motion.
Cox Communications’s motion to compel the RIAA to comply with the subpoena is available here (pdf).