How many more ISPs will the music industry sue?
Multiple ISPs in the United States are currently embroiled in lawsuits brought on by the music industry.
Cox Communications, for example, is bracing for a difficult court battle against major labels in Virginia.
The ISP hasn’t had a great time there. At the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge stripped the ISP of copyright immunities earlier this year. Cox later received the order to pay BMG $25 million. The same judge recently denied the ISP’s request to change the courtroom venue to its home district of Georgia.
Grande Communications hasn’t fared much better. Represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), major labels – including Sony Music, Warner, and Universal – have recently scored a huge victory. A magistrate judge stripped the Texas-based ISP of its safe harbor defense, guaranteeing the RIAA a win.
Now, fresh off the heels of that victory, the music industry has taken Charter Communications to court.
Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corp., Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Corp., among many other music companies, have filed a 27-page complaint in a Colorado federal court. They accuse the ISP of contributing to and profiting from the “massive copyright infringement” of its subscribers.
Thousands of Charter’s subscribers have willfully downloaded, copied, and distributed copyrighted music through BitTorrent as well as other services. This has caused “great harm” to labels, artists, and songwriters, say the record companies.
Charter, which does business as Spectrum, has outright refused to work with labels to solve this problem. Instead, the labels claim the ISP has chosen “to prioritize its own profits over its legal obligations.” This includes ignoring hundreds of thousands of statutory infringement notices from the music industry.
Thus, say the labels, Charter has willingly operated its internet service as “an attractive tool and safe haven for infringement.”
“Indeed, for years, Charter deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to curb consumers from using its internet services to infringe on other copyrights, including plaintiffs’ copyrights — even after Charter became aware of particular customers engaging in specific, repeated acts of infringement.”
The labels added it’s “well-established law” that Charter’s willful ignorance remains illegal.
“Despite its professed commitment to taking action against repeat offenders, Charter routinely thumbed its nose at [the labels] by continuing to provide service to subscribers it knew to be serially infringing copyrighted sound recordings and musical compositions.”
Because of this, Charter has attracted, retained, and charged infringing users higher fees.
The record companies have asked for unspecified damages for infringement between March 2013 and May 2016.
You can view the lawsuit below.
Featured image by Manuel Strehl (CC by 3.0).