Cox Tries to Shave $243 Million Off Its $1 Billion Copyright Infringement Ruling

Cox Communications Agrees to Hand Over the Personal Information of 2,795 Business Subscribers to the RIAA

Cox Communications has moved to trim $243 million off the $1 billion copyright infringement ruling levied against it late last year.

The Atlanta-headquartered internet service giant and television provider recently submitted the request to a Virginia federal court, and Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing. For additional background, the long-running legal battle initiated in August 2018, when the Big Three record labels and several other plaintiffs, corralled by the RIAA, targeted Cox Communications in a $1.5 billion copyright infringement complaint.

Essentially, the plaintiff entities alleged that Cox failed to adequately respond to and address its users copyright infringements – and, in turn, “obtained a direct financial benefit” at their expense.

We covered the courtroom confrontation as it raged on through the remainder of 2018 and the vast majority of 2019, until a jury determined on December 19th that the record labels’ qualms carried weight. Besides finding the ISP guilty of both vicarious and contributory copyright infringement, the jury opted to award the plaintiffs $99,830.29 for each of the 10,017 infringed works, bringing the grand damages total to an even $1 billion.

Cox Communications promptly fought back against the “shockingly excessive” ruling, though U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady dismissed the majority of the 58-year-old company’s challenges in June. However, the federal judge also indicated that the 10,017-work infringement list may have been “premature,” before granting the defendants 60 days to provide an updated tally (accounting for overlapping sound recordings and underlying compositions, as well as songs that the plaintiffs don’t in fact own).

In the aforementioned newest filing, submitted in response to Judge O’Grady’s June order, Cox and its legal team pinpointed a total of just 7,579 infringed works – 2,438 fewer than the initial figure, for a potential damages reduction (at $99,830.29 per work) of about $243.39 million. “There can be no real dispute that Plaintiffs can claim an award of statutory damages for only 7,579 works,” the document states at its beginning.

First, Cox suggested that the collections of infringed recordings and compositions encompass “2,272 overlapping titles” and that 2,220 of the works appeared once on each list. For instance, Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven” is featured on the lists, for the recording and the composition, and Cox maintains that it should pay just $99,830.29 for the infringement – not roughly $200,000 for the recording and the composition.

In building upon its derivative-works assertion, Cox Communications cited the arguments used by the plaintiffs during the proceedings: “The relationship between the titles of sound recordings and musical compositions was central to several aspects of this case, including…the number of works for which Plaintiffs could claim a separate damage award.”

Plus, “another 150 titles” appear more than once on either one or both lists, bringing the number of works that Cox wishes to dash from the damages calculation to 2,370. And lastly, the plaintiffs dropped 400 works from their case due to possible “ownership, registration, or chain-of-title problems,” according to the legal text, but were still granted statutory damages for 88 of them. And of these 88 works, 67 are non-derivative and should be struck from the ruling, as should one composition, “Shine” that Cox states the plaintiffs listed twice in a row.