The War Between the RIAA and Cox Communications Continues — Both Sides Seek Summary Judgments

The RIAA’s long-running war against Cox — and broadband ISPs in general — is entering a new chapter.

The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA), which principally represents Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment, and ISP Cox Communications are preparing to battle each other in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia over claims that Cox is liable for the mass copyright infringements of its users.

Actually, the RIAA is fronting dozens of different music companies in its complaint, the latest in a long, expensive battle over copyright infringement.  Last year, Cox settled its long-running litigation against BMG for $25 million, though that was merely a prelude of things to come.  Since that settlement, the RIAA and Cox have been sparring ahead of an expected trial.

In preparation for the main event, of course, both parties have filed motions with the court in an attempt to receive a summary judgment on their behalf.

The RIAA insists that Cox Communications has not enforced its own policies that deal with those who repeatedly infringe copyrights. Because of this, the organization believes that Cox should not receive safe harbor protection and hence should be liable themselves for the infringements.

In their motion to the court, though, Cox has asked the judge to rule in its favor without a hearing because of what they call a “distinct paucity of proof.”

Cox Communications asserts that the RIAA has failed to prove that its users infringed on the copyrights.  Cox has outlined flaws in the way the organization has tracked content distributed over their networks, and they also say that the RIAA did not properly file infringement notices for the music it says Cox’s users shared.

“In short, Plaintiffs seek damages for works they cannot prove were infringed, based on notices that did not identify fully 80% of those works. Moreover, they have no evidence that Cox knew about the infringement, obtained any direct financial benefit from it, or had the practical ability to prevent it, such that it could be secondarily liable,” the motion declares.

Finally, Cox insists that there is no evidence that they knew about the infringement, that they benefited from it in any way, or that they were capable of preventing it.

In the RIAA’s motion to the court, they have also asked the judge to rule in its favor without a hearing. They insist that Cox was aware that thousands of its users had repeatedly been accused of copyright infringement and yet did nothing about it because they stood to profit from it.  They further insist that a precedent set in a previous case that BMG eventually settled against Cox backs up their claims.

The judge in the case is now reviewing both motions.