Major Labels Face Legal Action for Issuing ‘False, Deceptive, and Misleading’ Copyright Claims

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Photo Credit: Bill Oxford

Charter Communications-owned internet service provider (ISP) Bright House has fired back against leading record labels’ far-reaching copyright infringement lawsuit, alleging in a counterclaim that the plaintiffs issued “false, deceptive, and misleading” DMCA takedown notices.

Bright House recently submitted its firmly worded counterclaims – and steadfast denial of the allegations the major labels introduced in their initial complaint – to a Florida federal court, and Digital Music News secured an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing. For additional background, we first reported on the comprehensive lawsuit against Charter (as well as a separate, albeit nearly identical case against Bright House) last June. Charter provides its internet services as Spectrum.

Essentially, the plaintiffs (including the Big Three record labels and many of their subsidiaries) allege that Bright House “reaped substantial profits” as it refused to take adequate action to address instances of copyright infringement allegedly committed by its subscribers. As mentioned, Bright House’s legal team refuted the claims in this newest filing, while also introducing several particularly noteworthy counterclaims.

In laying the foundation for its counterclaims, Bright House emphasized a commitment to users’ privacy and an inability to “control the internet” (and specifically which files its customers downloaded), stressing that it hadn’t personally stored and/or offered protected media. Similarly, the Charter-owned entity stated that the copyright infringement notices it received “always referred to acts of alleged infringement that occurred in the past,” thereby making it difficult for their team members to verify the requests’ authenticity.

Lastly, Bright House introduced and explored the idea that takedown requests “can be unreliable and are prone to error” and suggested that the counter defendants “sent notices of alleged copyright infringement…for works they do not own or otherwise have the right to enforce.”

Accordingly, the first of the actual counterclaims alleges that the plaintiffs violated the DMCA by “knowingly sending materially inaccurate notices of alleged infringement.” And in the same vein, the second and final counterclaim maintains that the major labels sent “false, deceptive, and misleading copyright infringement notices concerning works for which they did not own the rights.”

At the time of this writing, the counter defendants hadn’t publicly responded to Bright House’s newly introduced allegations. Early last month, we reported that Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered ISP Cox Communications was facing the possibility of paying a staggering $1 billion copyright infringement penalty, which a jury levied against it in December.

More as this develops.