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Charter Communications settles copyright lawsuits pursued by the majors

By | Published on Friday 5 August 2022

Charter Communications

US internet service provider Charter Communications has settled with the major record companies which sued the net firm in 2019 in relation to copyright infringement undertaken by its customers. Actually, the labels sued Charter twice on this. And both lawsuits have been settled.

These were two of a number of lawsuits pursued by the record industry against US ISPs who were accused of not doing enough to stop infringement on their networks. They followed the successful litigation against Cox Communications, which was sued first by BMG and then the majors.

In both those cases, Cox was accused of only paying lip service to its own repeat infringer policies. However, enforcing such policies is a requirement if internet companies want to benefit from the copyright safe harbour, which means they can’t be held liable for their customers’ copyright infringement.

Without an effective system for dealing with repeat infringers, Cox lost its safe harbour protection and was therefore found liable for the infringement of all its infringing users. And, with the major labels’ lawsuit, that liability resulted in it having to pay a billion dollars in damages.

Which means the likes of Charter have been very keen indeed to avoid going to court on this, and various arguments have been employed to try and get the cases dismissed.

In particular, the ISPs have argued that the labels are prone to issue dodgy copyright notices to internet companies, meaning said notices cannot be trusted as being solid proof that any one user is in fact regularly infringing copyright. But those arguments have generally failed, meaning the record industry’s lawsuits could proceed.

And that has seemingly made negotiating out of court settlements attractive for at least some of the targeted internet companies, even if securing such settlements is quite expensive. Another of those targeted ISPs – Bright House – confirmed it had reached such a settlement earlier this week, just as its case was due to be heard in court.

Bright House is actually a former ISP, it having been bought in 2016 by, oh, look, Charter Communications. Which meant that as soon as it was confirmed Bright House had settled, it seemed likely a Charter settlement was also imminent. And, indeed, that was then pretty quickly confirmed.

And that’s both of the lawsuits Charter was fighting settled. The two actions were basically the same, they just related to alleged infringement that took place during different time periods.

We don’t know any real details about the deals that have been done with either Bright House or Charter, with court filings simply stating that the three lawsuits have now been resolved. It remains to be seen if any details about those settlements become public.