Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

Missing data shouldn’t stop labels presenting its evidence in Cox copyright case, judge reckons

By | Published on Monday 30 September 2019

Cox Communications

A US judge said on Friday that if there are issues with evidence being presented by the record companies in their ongoing legal battle with American internet service provider Cox Communications, said issues should probably be presented to the jury. The ISP had hoped that the issues might be enough to have the evidence excluded from any formal court proceedings entirely.

The major record companies, of course, are trying to hold Cox liable of its users’ copyright infringement. Internet firms usually claim safe harbour protection from such liability, but the music industry argues that ISPs like Cox should not enjoy any such protection because they operated deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on their networks. The majors are suing various American ISPs on this issue, citing the rulings in BMG’s earlier legal battle with Cox.

There has been plenty of back and forth between the labels and the ISP as both sides proceed to a full-on court hearing where this dispute will go before a jury. In among all that, last month Cox called on the judge to block the labels from presenting some of their key evidence to that jury.

To hold the ISP liable for so called contributory infringement in relation to its users’ conduct, the labels first need to show that said users directly infringed their copyrights. The labels have worked with an anti-piracy outfit called MarkMonitor and audio-ID firm Audible Magic to produce evidence of that direct infringement. But, Cox said in its filing last month, the plaintiffs had not kept all of the data related to that work and, as such, the evidence was not sufficiently credible to be used in court.

However, according to Law360, at the conclusion of a discovery hearing last week, the judge overseeing the case concluded that the labels weren’t under any obligation to keep all the data they and their partners had gathered for the lawsuit. And while Cox might want to highlight the missing data as part of its defence before the jury, he said that he didn’t feel that the issues raised by the ISP were grounds for blocking the evidence from being presented at all.

And so the case rumbles on, with the labels’ data files likely to still be part of the proceedings.