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Cox Communications files appeal in $25 million safe harbours case

By | Published on Friday 11 November 2016

Cox Communications

US internet service provider Cox Communications has filed its appeal in the safe harbours case pursued against it by BMG. As previously reported, Cox was last year found liable for the infringement of its customers and ordered to pay the music firm $25 million in damages.

Although Cox chose not to participate in the voluntary Copyright Alert System that was put in place by a number of its competitors and the American entertainment industry – via which ISPs forward copyright warning letters sent by rights owners to suspected infringers – it does have its own anti-piracy systems in place. That means the net firm claims protection from liability for any infringement conducted over its network by its customers under the often controversial safe harbour provisions of American copyright law.

BMG basically argued that Cox operated a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers amongst its consumer base, mainly because it didn’t want to lose the business of infringing customers. In part based on internal correspondence between Cox employees, the jury hearing the case found in BMG’s favour, awarding the mega-damages.

Having failed to persuade the judge in the original case to overturn the jury’s decision or declare a retrial, Cox announced its intent to appeal in August, and this week filed its latest legal papers with the Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals.

In them, the net provider makes similar arguments to those presented when it was seeking a retrial, in particular questioning its obligations to act against alleged repeat infringers based on merely the say so of a rights owner or its agent, while insisting that the ruling in the case sets a dangerous precedent for both American ISPs and their customers.

The appeal concludes: “If allowed to stand, that judgment would force ISPs to terminate subscribers’ internet access – and with it access to critical information, e-commerce, and entertainment – based on the say-so of third parties. This court should reverse”.