Tag Archives: Cox Communications

Cox Is Liable for Pirating Subscribers, Hit With $1 Billion Damages Verdict

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-is-liable-for-pirating-subscribers-hit-with-1-billion-damages-verdict-191220/

Last year Cox settled its piracy liability lawsuit with music rights company BMG.

The ink on this agreement was barely dry when the ISP faced a similar and additional complaint. This time it was up against 53 music companies, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music.

The rightsholders complained that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

Early this month the case went to trial where the parties vigorously defended their positions. The music companies argued that Cox willingly turned a blind eye to pirates, while Cox countered that it’s not to blame for the alleged infringements of subscribers.

A few hours ago the jury reached its final conclusion at the Virginia federal court, clearly siding with the music companies.

Cox was found to be both contributorily and vicariously liable for the alleged pirating activity of its subscribers. This applies to all the 10,017 copyrighted works the music companies claim were infringed.

In addition, the jury concluded that Cox’s action was “willful.” This allows for a maximum damages amount of $150,000 per work but the jury agreed on $99,830, which puts the total damages amount at $1 billion.

The RIAA, which helped many of its members with this case, is pleased with the outcome. The music industry group hopes that it will motivate other ISPs to change their anti-piracy policies.

“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message – Cox and other ISPs that fail to meet their legal obligations to address piracy on their networks will be held accountable,” RIAA’s Kenneth Doroshow notes.

“The jury recognized these companies’ legal obligation to take meaningful steps to protect music online and made a strong statement about the value of a healthy music ecosystem for everyone – ranging from creators to fans to the available outlets for legitimate music consumption.”

Cox Communications is disappointed with the verdict. The company calls the damages amount “unjust and excessive” and is set to appeal.

“We plan to appeal the case and vigorously defend ourselves. We provide customers with a powerful tool that connects to a world full of content and information,” Cox said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, some customers have chosen to use that connection for wrongful activity. We don’t condone it, we educate on it and we do our best to help curb it, but we shouldn’t be held responsible for the bad actions of others,” Cox adds.

This means that the legal battle is likely to continue. And as noted by Variety, the present verdict isn’t final yet until all post-trial motions have been dealt with.

The $1 billion in damages the jury awarded is substantially higher than that of the earlier case against BMG. At the time, the jury awarded $25 million, based on 1,397 copyrighted works. This figure was later reduced in a settlement.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Cox Wants Judge, Not Jury, to Rule on Crucial Piracy Liability Questions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-wants-judge-not-jury-to-rule-on-crucial-piracy-liability-questions-191218/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox Communications.

The ISP eventually agreed to pay millions of dollars in damages, but that didn’t end the troubles. Last year a group of RIAA labels filed a similar piracy liability suit which is currently under trial.

For more than two weeks, Cox and the music companies have presented their case to the jury in a Virginia federal court. However, now that both parties have been heard, the ISP would prefer the court to rule on the matter.

Yesterday Cox submitted a motion for a judgment of federal law. If granted, this will leave the judgment of several crucial issues up to the court instead of the jury.

Such a request is allowed when the evidence can only lead the jury to reach one conclusion, or if the verdict would be based on speculation and conjecture. Both of these issues can play a role in this case, according to Cox.

In its motion, the ISP asks the court to rule that there is no evidence of direct infringement by Cox subscribers. This is a crucial matter, as it’s a requirement to prove contributory and vicarious infringement, which are at the basis of the liability claims.

According to Cox, the music companies presented no evidence which proves that all affected subscribers reproduced pirated content. While it’s clear that subscribers made music available through BitTorrent, these files could have been purchased legally, the company argues.

“The MarkMonitor system cannot determine whether the purported copies of Plaintiffs’ works on devices associated with Cox subscribers’ IP addresses were initially purchased from iTunes, legally uploaded from a purchased CD, or obtained from another legal source,” Cox notes.

MarkMonitor’s tracking system revealed that subscribers made files available for others to download. However, it didn’t always show that these files were illegally obtained. According to a witness, most subscribers already had a full copy and ‘only’ 15% were still downloading files.

The 15% figure would leave the jury with guess-work, Cox argues, which can be a critical shortcoming.

Furthermore, it’s argues that the music companies have no proof that any subscribers distributed infringing copies. while there was an easy option to actually prove the matter if the tracking systems were configured properly.

“The easy and obvious way to prove that a Cox subscriber ‘actually disseminated’ a particular recording would have been to use a file-sharing protocol to actually download that recording directly from the subscriber’s computer,” Cox writes.

The music companies also failed to show that piracy acted as a “draw” to potential customers, the ISP notes.

“There is no evidence showing that any subscribers were drawn to Cox’s service by the availability of unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ works, or for that matter the availability of any infringing works.”

In addition, the ISP argues that it can’t be held liable for alleged infringements of business subscribers. While Cox was made aware of these, businesses can have hundreds or thousands of users, and Cox can’t identify these based on a single IP-address.

Based on these and various other arguments Cox argues that it’s clearly not liable for contributory or vicarious infringement. As such, it asks the court to rule on these issues, instead of leaving it up to the jury.

Finally, the ISP requests a similar judgment when it comes to potential damages. The music companies request statutory damages for sound recordings, compositions, compilations, and other derivatives that point to the same tracks. As such, it requests to limit the damage claims to one award per work.

The above is obviously all based on Cox’s viewpoint and the music companies are likely to argue the opposite. Many of these issues were previously argued earlier in the legal proceedings when Cox asked for summary judgment.

At the time, the court opted to leave the issues open for the jury to decide. Whether it will rule differently now that both parties have presented their arguments in court will become apparent in the near future.

A copy of Cox Communication’s motion for a judgment of federal law is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Cox Knew About Pirating Subscribers, Court Concludes

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-knew-about-pirating-subscribers-court-concludes-191120/

Last year Cox settled its piracy liability lawsuit with music rights company BMG.

While the company hoped that this would be the end of its copyright woes, the next legal battle was already being prepared.

This time, the ISP was up against 53 music companies, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music.

The rightsholders complained that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the music companies and other rightsholders.

A year later the case is heading to trial where Cox will have to defend itself once again. However, not before some final issues are resolved.

In August, both Cox and the music companies requested summary judgments on several crucial issues. Among other things, the ISP requested a ruling that it’s not vicariously liable for copyright infringement.

This week US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady ruled on the requests. He decided to deny most, stating that these issues will be resolved at trial. The Judge did, however, issue a ruling on whether Cox had “knowledge” of the allegedly pirating customers.

The music companies asked to have this issue resolved before trial. It is a crucial question, as it determines whether the ISP can be held contributorily liable for pirating subscribers or not.

Cox first argued that the notices failed to identify many copyrighted works. For example, in some cases, the music companies only identified one song from a torrent that contained more works. In addition, the notices only highlighted infringements of sound recordings, not the compositions.

The court, however, waved away this defense and concluded that the notices are certainly specific enough when it comes to specific sound recordings. They include a title, timestamp, date, notice id, IP-address, and hash, among other things.

“Based on the level of detail included in the notices directed at Cox and its subscribers, there is no doubt that Defendants had more than just ‘generalized knowledge’ of infringement,” Judge O’Grady writes.

“Thus, the Court finds as a matter of law that there is no genuine issue of fact regarding the sufficiency of the RIAA notices in this case, and that they can support the knowledge element of a contributory infringement claim,” he adds.

The second question is whether these notices, which the RIAA sent, can lead to the conclusion that Cox had knowledge of the infringements in a legal sense. The ISP denied this, but according to the court, it’s clear that the notices are sufficient.

“It would be farcical to argue that Cox had no knowledge of the hundreds of thousands of notices it received indicating infringement for the works in suit,” Judge O’Grady writes.

“The notices were sent to an email address Cox created for the very purpose of receiving this information, and were processed by a corporate department dedicated to abuse and security for Cox.”

Finally, Cox also argued that it can’t be liable for alleged infringements that occurred through business subscribers, as it can’t identify individual users of these businesses. However, the court ruled that there is no ground to exclude business subscribers at this point.

All in all, it is clear that Cox had specific enough knowledge of pirating subscribers to hold it contributorily liable. However, to do so, a jury must also conclude that the ISP contributed to or induced the infringements. That will be decided at trial.

In addition to the “knowledge” question, Judge O’Grady also ruled that the music companies own or control the exclusive rights to all works that are part of the case, something Cox contested.

With these issues ‘resolved’ the case is yet another step close to trial, which is currently scheduled to take place next month.

A copy of US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady’s memorandum opinion and order is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Cox and Music Companies Battle Over Piracy Evidence Ahead of Trial

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-and-music-companies-battle-over-piracy-evidence-ahead-of-trial-191109/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox Communications.

The ISP was ordered to pay $25 million in damages and another $8 million in legal fees. Hoping to escape this judgment, the company filed an appeal, but the case was eventually settled with Cox agreeing to pay an undisclosed but substantial settlement amount.

The landmark case signaled the start of many similar lawsuits against a variety of ISPs, several of which are still ongoing. In fact, just days after the settlement was announced, Cox was sued again, this time by a group of RIAA-affiliated music companies.

In simple terms, the crux of the case is whether Cox did enough stop pirating subscribers. While the ISP did have the policy to disconnect repeat infringers, the music companies argue that this wasn’t sufficient.

Over the past several months, both parties have conducted discovery and they are currently gearing up for a jury trial which is scheduled for December.

Most recently, both parties have presented their motions in limine, requesting the court to exclude certain testimony from being presented to the jury. This is typically material they see as irrelevant, misleading, or confusing.

One of the music companies’ motions focuses on a document (DX 74) Cox wants to present which indicates that the ISP’s own graduated response system worked pretty well.

Apparently, internal Cox research showed that 96% of subscribers stop receiving notices after the 5th warning. This was concluded in 2010 and resulted in the ISP’s belief that its “graduated response” system was effective.

The number was also brought up to the plaintiffs, as it was mentioned during the Copyright Alert System negotiations. Cox says that it chose not to join this voluntary piracy notice agreement because it already had a functional anti-piracy system in place.

The music companies don’t want this evidence to be shown to the jury. In a reply to Cox’s objections, they argue that the facts and figures in the document are a confusing mess of misleading calculations that lack data to support them.

The reply, which also rebuts other issues, is aggressively worded and redacts the 96% figure at the center of the dispute.

“The mere utterance of the so-called ‘study’ and its misleading and unsupported conclusion will lend it an air of credibility in the jury’s mind. The proverbial bell cannot be un-rung. The only adequate solution is exclusion,” the music companies write.

Cox has also submitted a variety of motions in limine. Among other things, the ISP doesn’t want the plaintiffs to present the millions of infringement notices tracking company MarkMonitor sent to Cox on behalf of other rightsholders.

The music companies disagree, however, arguing that the jury is allowed to know that potential copyright infringements are not limited to their own complaints. The other notices are also relevant to determine crucial issues such as liability, willfulness, and statutory damages, they add.

According to Cox, however, these third-party infringements notices are irrelevant to the present case and don’t prove anything.

“Plaintiffs’ attempt to litigate this case with evidence from an unrelated case concerning acts of infringement that are not at issue is inappropriate, improper, and prejudicial. Plaintiffs’ evidence of third-party infringement allegations should be excluded from trial.”

The docket is littered with back and forths on issues one party wants to exclude while being considered vital evidence by the other. This process is generally the last major clash before the trial starts.

The court has yet to rule on the various motions. When that is done the case will move forward. If all goes according to the current schedule, the verdict will be announced in a few weeks.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

RIAA Refuses to Share Results of ‘Six Strikes’ Anti-Piracy Scheme

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-refuses-to-share-results-of-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-190827/

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).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Cox Asks Court to Sanction Labels Over Destroyed Tracking Evidence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-asks-court-to-sanction-labels-over-destroyed-tracking-evidence-190820/

Last year, Cox ended its piracy liability lawsuit with music company BMG, agreeing to a “substantial settlement.”

The ISP is now in the clear, however, Cox is still caught up in another lawsuit filed by a group of major music companies, all members of the RIAA.

The music outfits, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that the ISP substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

Over the past several months, both parties have conducted discovery and the case is currently scheduled to go to trial in December. While there were talks of a potential settlement a few weeks ago, things look rather different now.

Last week we reported that the ISP canceled a scheduled settlement discussion. As a result, the music outfits called for sanctions, accusing the ISP of gamesmanship. Now, it’s Cox’s turn to ask for sanctions, this time with a formal request.

Cox submitted a motion for discovery sanctions at the Virginia federal court, where it accuses the plaintiffs of relying on unsubstantiated evidence.

The concerns relate to the piracy evidence which the music companies are relying on. This is the data that was used to send copyright infringement notices to Cox, pointing out how its subscribers allegedly shared infringing material. As such, it is the basis of the “repeat infringer” claims that are central to the lawsuit.

The data in question was collected by the anti-piracy firm MarkMonitor, which keeps a close eye on global BitTorrent activity. For the lawsuit, these infringement allegations were summarized in two spreadsheets. However, Cox notes that underlying evidence has since been deleted.

“MarkMonitor failed to retain critical portions of this evidence, and the document that Plaintiffs intend to rely on is, at best, a partial and inaccurate summary of these analyses,” Cox informs the Court.

As such, Cox requests sanctions. Specifically, it asks the court for a ruling that the piracy evidence in question can’t be used to back up any claims.

“Because Plaintiffs’ agent destroyed the underlying data, leaving no way to assess the accuracy of this summary, Cox respectfully requests that the Court enter discovery sanctions against Plaintiffs in the form of a preclusion order prohibiting Plaintiffs from relying on the incomplete and unreliable MarkMonitor evidence.”

According to Cox, MarkMonitor deleted data which showed that claimed copyright infringements were indeed linked to copyrighted files. These data concern the “matching” logs it received from the fingerprinting service Audible Magic.

During discovery, Cox learned that MarkMonitor used data from Audible Magic to reach its infringement conclusions. A subsequent subpoena explained how this worked, and a deposition of Audible Magic later revealed that MarkMonitor deleted the transaction logs.

“Ultimately, Cox learned in a deposition on the last day of discovery that MarkMonitor did not produce the transaction logs at issue or the relevant database because it had destroyed them,” Cox informs the Court.

The deleted data was crucial according to the ISP, as it’s the only way to prove that the alleged infringements detailed in the spreadsheet are correct. In addition, the routinely deleted data “strongly suggests” that MarkMonitor’s spreadsheet is inaccurate.

“The destroyed Audible Magic data was undeniably material and foundational to the MarkMonitor Spreadsheet,” Cox notes.

The ISP backs up its ‘inaccuracy’ claims in redacted parts of its memorandum, mentioning that it was a “coin flip” whether or not a claimed infringement actually took place.

Coin flip

Cox argues that the record labels withheld unfavorable information so sees no other option than to scrap the spreadsheets as evidence. In their current form, they can’t be backed up.

“Because Plaintiffs failed to preserve and produce the best and most complete—indeed, the only—evidence of the alleged direct infringements, the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on the ‘236 and ‘431 Spreadsheets, and any derivative documents, which are merely incomplete and inaccurate summaries of what the data would have shown,” Cox concludes.

It the Court agrees with Cox and excludes the piracy data as evidence, the case could be severely impacted.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Cox has complained about spoilt evidence. The company did the same a few years ago in the BMG case, after it found out that anti-piracy company Rightscorp destroyed older versions of its piracy tracking code.

At the time the Court ruled that sanctions were indeed appropriate. However, the copyright infringement claims were not disregarded and Cox’s request to dismiss the case in its entirety was denied.

A copy of Cox’s memorandum in support of the motion for discovery sanctions and to preclude the MarkMonitor evidence is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Cox Business Subscriber Doesn’t Want Identity Revealed in Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-business-subscriber-doesnt-want-identity-revealed-in-piracy-lawsuit/

Last year a group of prominent record labels, all members of the RIAA, filed a lawsuit against ISP Cox Communications. 

The labels argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

As part of the discovery phase, both parties requested relevant information from each other. The labels, for example, were interested in finding out the names and addresses of Cox business subscribers that received copyright infringement warnings. 

In addition to regular households, Cox also offers Internet connections to business clients and many of these – 2,793 to be precise – were flagged as pirates.

After some back and forth Cox and the record labels agreed on a stipulated court order, requiring the ISP to disclose this information. While the court signed off on this, not all affected subscribers are happy with this decision. One of them objected in court this week. 

The company in question appeared as “John Doe” and explained that it’s a  non-profit corporation that provides hospital and medical care facilities outside of Virginia. 

As is quite common today, the non-profit operates a secured network that’s only accessible to its employees. In addition, it offers public WiFi access to patients and visitors. The latter was provided by Cox in the relevant time period.

“Like other medical care providers, John Doe provides an unsecured, public
wireless network that can be accessed by patients and other visitors who agree to abide by John Doe’s terms of use for the Public WiFi network. Cox is the internet service provider for this Public WiFi network,” the company notes

It was this unsecured network that triggered the referenced copyright infringement notifications. This, despite the fact that all users had to agree to the terms of service, which specifically prohibited illegal downloading.

From the ToS

The health care provider doesn’t refute that visitors or patients may have used the network to share copyright-infringing content. However, it notes that there’s not much it can do to identify these infringers. Not then and not now.

The health care provider doesn’t track MAC addresses of people who connected to the network, and even if it did, that would only identify a device, not a person. 

Given this background, the “John Doe” company doesn’t see any reason why its details should be shared with the record labels. That won’t help to identify any copyright infringers. However, it does breach the health care provider’s privacy rights. 

“Thus, disclosure of John Doe’s subscriber information will not lead to the discovery of the individual(s) who are alleged by Plaintiffs to have engaged in copyright infringement through the misuse of John Doe’s network in violation of the access agreement,” the company informs the court.

“All disclosure will accomplish is a breach of John Doe’s privacy rights under the Cable Communications Privacy Act, 47 USC § 551, and the imposition of time and expense burdens on John Doe, all without furthering any claim or defense in this case.”

It is now up to the court to decide whether the details of the company can be handed over by Cox. Meanwhile, it remains unclear why the record labels are interested in this information at all, and how this will help their case.

A copy of John Doe’s objection to the disclosure is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.