CTA, CTIA Back Cox in Court Fight

Groups come to defense of ISP facing $25 million court hit over contributory copyright liability

Associations representing telecoms and tech product manufacturers have told a court that Cox was wrongly held liable for not policing its Internet content and that Cox should have been immune from that liability.

That came in a friend of the court brief filed Monday (Nov. 14) in a Virginia U.S. District Court.

The jury in that court found last December that Cox was "willfully" liable for contributing to copyright infringement by users of its Internet service and has awarded music company BMG $25 million in statutory damages.

The complaint against Cox was that it was not sufficiently responsive to BMG's requests that it terminate the accounts of subscribers who repeatedly infringed copyrights.

ISPs have to respond to such requests to retain Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protection from copyright infringement claims themselves. BMG said Cox had not done that and its subs dido not face a realistic threat of losing their accounts, even for repeat infringements.

Cox has said Rightscorp., which, acting for BMG and Round Hill ([the other plaintiff in the suit], monitored and identified the infringement, was a shady operation that, with BMG and Round Hill's complicity, was exacting retribution through the suit for Cox's refusal to participate in a scheme to "shake down ISP customers for money without regard to actual liability," and trying to get ISPs to participate in that scheme.

CCIA and CTA said they thought that the court erred in not giving Cox DMCA immunity, but focused on what they said was the court's "erroneous interpretation...[of] when contributory copyright liability may be imposed on providers of staple services and devices."

They argue that the district court should not have told the jury that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was not at issue in the case, saying there were fundamental omissions and errors "in rulings and instructions regarding the law of contributory infringement."