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Cox owes $1 billion to record labels for harboring music pirates, jury decides

Cox owes $1 billion to record labels for harboring music pirates, jury decides


Cox says it will appeal

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Over the past few years, record labels have been suing ISPs for not removing music pirates from their services, and today, the record labels may have won a tremendous victory. A US District Court jury has found Cox Communications liable for piracy infringement of more than 10,000 musical works, and as a result, has awarded $1 billion in damages to Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI, as reported by Billboard and Variety.

Essentially, the recording industry just showed that a jury will buy its argument that an ISP should be held liable for failing to kick a music pirate off its network. And similar lawsuits like the one Cox lost today have been filed against Charter, Charter subsidiary Bright House Networks, RCN, and Grande Communications, so there’s a chance that rulings against those companies could go similarly.

In statements given to Billboard and Variety, Cox said it plans to appeal the case.

This suit follows another against Cox from BMG, which was awarded $25 million in damages in 2015 after Cox was found guilty of ignoring copyright infringement warnings from copyright enforcement company Rightscorp. That decision was reversed on appeal in 2018, but before a retrial could happen, Cox paid out a settlement to BMG.

In the 2000s, the companies filed mass lawsuits against individuals, but ended that approach in 2008 because it didn’t do much to stop piracy. In 2013, the RIAA and MPAA partnered with ISPs on a “six strikes” program intended to scare pirates, but nothing substantial actually happened when someone received six strikes, so the program ended in 2017 after failing to scare off repeat pirates.