Cox Communications Gets $1 Billion Verdict Over Music Piracy Tossed





Cox Communications scored a legal win on Tuesday after a federal appeals court overturned a 2019 decision that would’ve forced the cable and internet provider to pay $1 billion to the music labels for its customers’ piracy activities.

In 2019, a jury in a Virginia court decided that Cox was liable for its customers’ violations of music copyrights — more than 10,000 instances — by illegally downloading pirated songs. The activity prompted more than 50 music labels, including major players like Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group, to band together a file a lawsuit against Cox.

But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the damages weren’t justified, and tossed out the penalty. Instead, it said that the federal district court should hold another trial to figure out the appropriate damages. Reuters first reported on the ruling.

“We are pleased that the court rightly rejected the verdict and set aside the damages award that was wildly out of step with established copyright law and awards in other copyright cases,” said a company spokesman Todd Smith. “At the same time, we disagree with the Court’s ruling on contributory infringement. Providing homes and businesses with the broadband service that so many depend on in their daily lives should not be a violation of copyright law. We are evaluating our further legal options for establishing that principle.”

It’s one of multiple suits that the music industry has filed against internet service providers it argues were complicit in letting its customers illegally download music. The group argued it had sent a myriad of notices to let Cox know that its service was used to download, copy, and share copyrighted music through BitTorrent and other file-sharing services.

While piracy still happens, it’s far less mainstream than it used to be, when BitTorrent or Napster before it, were more commonly used. Nowadays, a lot of music consumption happens through legitimate streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, with the music industry having transformed itself to better turn a profit off of digital media.

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