A Virginia jury has ruled against cable giant Cox Communications in a copyright infringement case, awarding the plaintiffs $1 billion. EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, and Universal Music had sued Cox over illegal piracy by the company’s subscribers. The labels had alleged that over 10,000 songs were pirated while the company failed to do anything about it. The damages amounted to about $100,000 per song.

The music labels claimed that they sent numerous warnings to Cox about the infringements before taking the matter to court. When the company ignored the labels, the issue ended up in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The jury, in awarding the damages, determined that the infringement was willful.

Cox allegedly failed to enforce its own policies concerning repeat copyright infringements. For this reason, the labels argued, the company should not receive safe harbor protection. Safe harbors, part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, limit service providers’ liability when infringements are attributed to their users. But these protections are not absolute, as was made clear by the Virginia jury’s verdict.

The verdict was celebrated by the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group representing major music labels. The RIAA said that Cox had a legal duty to reasonably address piracy on its networks. By failing to protect the copyrights owned by music labels, the company exposed itself to liability.

Cox, in a statement, contended that the $1 billion in damages was excessive. The company further argued that it should not be held liable for the wrongful actions of its customers. “We shouldn’t be held responsible for the bad actions of others,” the cable giant said.

Not all copyright cases result in billion-dollar verdicts. But the Virginia case illustrates that even powerful companies can be held liable for their wrongful actions. Cox was allegedly warned multiple times about its users’ copyright infringements. No company can totally prevent all misuse by its customers. However, the failure to take reasonable steps to address the problem has now cost Cox $1 billion. What will happen on appeal, including a possible reduction of the dollar amount awarded, remains unclear.

Intellectual property cases can generate significant damages, even if they’re not in the billion dollar range. These lawsuits help send the message that the creative works of artists should be safeguarded. If you or your company have created original or innovative content, it needs to be protected. The same is true where patented designs, trademarks, and trade secrets are at issue.

The music labels in the Virginia case allegedly sent “hundreds of thousands” of warnings to Cox about the infringements. When Cox took no meaningful action, the labels sued. It is debatable whether it was the right move to wait that long to take legal action. It is smart to sometimes allow a party to make so many mistakes that it can no longer deny liability. Cox, for its part, could not simply turn a blind eye to so many violations by its customers.

At the same time, however, allowing a company to infringe your copyrights costs you money. It depletes the value of your work and encourages the violator to continue. If your intellectual property is being stolen, you should at least consult an experienced attorney right away. The law firm of Eddington & Worley understands copyright infringement and we take aggressive steps to protect our clients.


If you have concerns about your intellectual property rights, give us a call. We know the stress of feeling like your work is being stolen. And we’re here to help. Reach out to Eddington & Worley today and put our intellectual property lawyers extensive copyright litigation experience to the test.

Source article: httpss://deadline.com/2019/12/cox-communications-music-copyright-lawsuit-billion-dollar-judgment-music-labels-1202814269/

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