Major Labels Accuse Charter Communications of “Earning Millions” from Pirate Subscribers

WMG subsidiary Warner Records, just one of several RIAA constituents.
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WMG subsidiary Warner Records, just one of several RIAA constituents.
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WMG subsidiary Warner Records, one of several named litigants against Charter Communications.

Over the past year and a half, the music industry – mostly led by the notorious RIAA – has launched lawsuits against multiple ISPs in the U.S.

Decades into this war, the RIAA is finally winning some battles.

Thanks to the major label trade group, for example, a federal judge in Texas stripped away Grande Communications’ safe harbor defense guaranteed under law.

Cox Communication has also suffered against the industry in federal court.  At the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge stripped the ISP of copyright immunities last 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.

In its ongoing legal case against Cox Communications, the RIAA and its major label constituents recently reached a deal with the ISP.  Both Cox and the RIAA – representing Sony, Warner, and Universal Music – agreed that the ISP would promptly hand over the names, payment information, and addresses of business subscribers who allegedly downloaded illegal content.

Promptly signed by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, the ISP agreed to identify 2,793 business subscribers who received infringement warnings between February 1st, 2013 and November 26th, 2014.

Fresh off these recent victories, the RIAA took aim at another major internet service provider – Charter Communications.  The ISP now does business as Spectrum.

Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corp., Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Corp., among many other music companies, 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.

Now, the music industry has filed a new complaint against Charter.

Earning millions from piracy lovers.

At a federal court in Colorado, the major labels – led by Warner Bros. – accused the ISP of earning millions from enabling copyright infringement.

Charter had recently filed a motion to dismiss the label’s lawsuit.  The ISP said it was only sued for “merely providing internet access.”

Rejecting Charter’s argument, the record companies explained,

The reason for Charter’s refusal to act is simple: by tolerating users’ infringement, Charter reaps millions of dollars in subscription fees that it would have to forgo if it terminated infringing users’ accounts.

They also said they want to hold the ISP responsible for “textbook secondary liability under the Copyright Act.”

The label added that Charter has the right to ban infringing users.  Yet, it fails to do so as it “prioritize[s] its own profits over its legal obligations.”  For years, this behavior has gone unchecked.  Users, they claim, don’t have to worry about losing their internet service.

Aiming to toss the labels’ vicarious infringement claim, Charter fired back.  The record companies clearly “stretch the doctrine of vicarious liability far beyond the narrow construction applied by courts.”

The recent filing echoes an argument made by the record labels several months ago.  The ISP’s “willful ignorance” also clearly goes against “well-established [copyright] law.”

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.


Featured image by Warner Records.

One Response

  1. Hmmm

    Hey did you guys know they have this guy named r Kelly who the music industry is not liable for damages or liabilities for with said person even though he has been accused of numerous heinous crimes against children and others as well but they still allow him access for the sake of profit?

    Maybe somebody should make them liable for CONTRIBUTIONS.