Cox Communications Officially Appeals Its $1 Billion Copyright Infringement Verdict

Cox Communications Agrees to Hand Over the Personal Information of 2,795 Business Subscribers to the RIAA
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Cox Communications has officially appealed the $1 billion copyright infringement verdict that a jury levied against it in December of 2019.

This appeal arrives about six weeks after a federal court upheld the $1 billion ruling and approximately three weeks following the mega-ISP’s moving to delay making the substantial payment. To recap, the underlying courtroom confrontation kicked off in 2018, when the major labels alleged in part that the 59-year-old Cox Enterprises subsidiary had profited from “massive copyright infringement” committed by its subscribers.

Cox promptly pushed back against the allegations, but as mentioned, a jury in late 2019 found the Atlanta-based company liable for both vicarious and contributory infringement on 10,017 works. More pressingly, said jury attached a $99,830.29 fee to each of the alleged infringements, for total (rounded-down) damages of $1 billion.

The defendants in February of 2020 characterized the verdict as “shockingly excessive,” but June saw the presiding judge dismiss the majority of Cox Communications’ challenges. Notably, though, the court also specified that the total number of allegedly infringed works may have been “premature,” specifically due to possible overlap between sound recordings and underlying compositions as well as the presence of songs that didn’t belong to the plaintiffs.

Cox Communications, which the overarching Cox Enterprises took private in 2004, was given 60 days to produce an updated list of allegedly infringed works. This new list, for its part, featured 7,579 works – 2,438 fewer than the initial figure, coming out to a roughly $243.39 million reduction to the $1 billion verdict.

However, as previously noted, the court upheld the entirety of the penalty, chiefly because Cox’s counsel “did not present evidence of the supposed relationship between the sound recordings and musical compositions at trial.” Finally, Cox asked the court last month to put the $1 billion payment on hold while it pursued an appeal, once again, and a new filing has revealed that the appeals process is in motion.

In the brief document, the internet-service provider states that it is appealing to the Fourth Circuit (the major labels submitted the original complaint to a Virginia federal court), including the January 12th decision to uphold the $1 billion verdict and “all underlying orders, rulings, and findings merged therein, including but not limited to the order.”

Separately, the RIAA’s years-running suit against Charter Communications is showing few signs of slowing down, and YouTube seized the domain of stream-ripper about one week ago. And in terms of lawsuits against the major labels, Dwight Yoakam recently named Warner Music in a complaint for allegedly failing to return his master recordings.