This week was one to forget for United States service provider Cox Communications after a federal court in Virginia found it liable for copyright infringements carried out by its customers.
The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.
The case was filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on cash settlement demands to customers that were sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp on behalf of BMG. The ISP also failed to take firm action against repeat infringers.
Now, with a BMG victory on the record, Rightscorp has come out swinging. Welcoming the decision of Judge Liam O’Grady, the anti-piracy outfit says that its long-held position, that ISPs must comply with its wishes, has been proven accurate.
“For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights,” the company said in a statement.
“Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers’ actions — even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence. There had never been a judicial decision holding an ISP liable.”
Of course, that changed this week with Judge O’Grady’s decision, and Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec couldn’t be happier.
“Although Rightscorp was not a party in this case, we are delighted with the outcome. The Federal District Court declared the liability of ISPs to be precisely what Rightscorp has been saying it is for years,” Sabec says.
“With this final Federal Court ruling, not only has our position on ISP liability been confirmed, but our Company’s technology and processes for collecting and documenting evidence of peer-to-peer copyright infringement on ISP networks has been validated as well.”
While Rightscorp was expected to make the most of BMG’s victory in its future dealings with ISPs, the level of aggression in its announcement still comes as a surprise. Essentially putting every provider in the country on notice, Rightscorp warns that ISPs will now have to cooperate or face the wrath of litigious rightsholders.
“As we have consistently told ISPs, we stand ready to assist those ISPs that desire to work in a constructive way with the copyright community in order to reduce the massive infringements that occur every day on their networks,” Sabec says.
“But our company has also amassed a vast amount of data documenting infringements that have occurred over the past five years on the network of essentially every ISP in the country. That data will be made available to copyright holders that wish to enforce their rights against ISPs that are not inclined toward a cooperative solution.”
Whether this week’s developments will help to pull Rightscorp out of the financial doldrums will remain to be seen. The company has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now, and its shares on Wednesday were worth just $0.038 each. Following the BMG news, they peaked at $0.044.