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Judge recommends that record industry lawsuit against ISP Grande proceed

By | Published on Wednesday 7 March 2018

Grande Communications

A judge has recommended that the record industry’s legal battle with American internet service provider Grande Communications should be allowed to proceed, though with some elements of the litigation stripped out.

The Recording Industry Association Of America says that Grande has failed to deal with repeat copyright infringers among its customer base. This failure, the record companies argue, means the internet company should no longer qualify for safe harbour protection under US copyright law. Which means it could be held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers.

The case closely parallels that pursued by BMG against Cox Communications. BMG successfully sued Cox for failing to deal with repeat infringers among its customer base. And although that legal win was recently overturned on appeal, that decision was based on a technicality. The appeals court basically agreed with the arguments the music company had made regarding the net firm’s liabilities.

Grande has been trying to get the RIAA case dismissed. However – according to Torrentfreak – US magistrate judge Andrew Austin has recommended that the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed. Although, he says the ISP’s parent company should be removed as a co-defendant and that the RIAA’s claim of so called ‘vicarious infringement’ should be dismissed. Claims of contributory or secondary infringement should remain though.

Citing BMG v Cox, the judge also said that Grande’s claim that legal precedent meant it was protected from copyright claims of this kind was debatable. The judge’s recommendation states: “The court acknowledges that this is not yet a well-defined area of the law, and that there are good arguments on both sides of this issue”.

“However, at this point in the case, the court is persuaded that [record industry] has pled a plausible claim of secondary infringement based on Grande’s alleged failure to act when presented with evidence of ongoing, pervasive infringement by its subscribers”, he added.

Austin’s recommendation now goes to a US district court judge who will make the final decision on whether the RIAA v Grande case should proceed.