Back in October of 2020, Princeton-headquartered RCN Corporation filed a countersuit against the major labels for allegedly issuing fraudulent piracy claims. Now, a New Jersey federal court has dismissed the internet service provider’s counterclaim.
The underlying courtroom confrontation – one of several that the Big Three labels have initiated against ISPs in recent years – kicked off in late August of 2019. According to the plaintiffs, the Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners subsidiary RCN hadn’t done enough to curb its subscribers’ unauthorized downloads of protected media, thereby becoming something of a “haven” for piracy. RCN, the RIAA-spearheaded action proceeded, “could easily have stopped” many of these illegal activities.
As initially mentioned, RCN denied the allegations and, some 14 months thereafter, fired back with a firmly worded countersuit, taking aim at the plaintiffs’ alleged “unfair and fraudulent business practices” under California’s Unfair Competition Law, singling out instances of purported BitTorrent infringement detected by Rightscorp.
In responding to said instances of alleged infringement, the major labels developed a habit of “generating and sending millions of unsupported emails” to RCN, according to the countersuit, “not because they are true, but because the nature and volume of the accusations allow” the companies to gain leverage over ISPs.
And regarding the alleged infringing actions themselves, the counter-plaintiffs characterized Rightscorp’s detection process as “a sham built on shoddy business practices, the willful destruction of evidence, and a cavalier approach to—if not outright disregard for—the truth.” On the “destruction of evidence front,” RCN called into question the infringement claims because Rightscorp allegedly deleted “the actual evidence of copyright infringement,” among other things.
These deletions purportedly made it impossible to “test the accuracy of” the cited downloads, per the 28-year-old RCN. Nevertheless, Judge Michael A. Shipp just recently dismissed the counteraction – albeit with leave to amend.
In explaining his decision, Judge Shipp indicated that RCN had failed “to adequately allege standing as to either Rightscorp” or the major labels in the countersuit because the entity didn’t plead “a cognizable economic injury under the UCL.” To be sure, the ISP didn’t “allege that it created its DMCA System specifically because of Rightscorp’s infringement notifications or that Rightscorp’s infringement notifications imposed any additional costs.”
Furthermore, while “there are substantial ongoing costs associated with operating and maintaining the” DMCA takedown system, according to RCN, the court emphasized that the company didn’t “specifically allege, however, that any of these costs are due to Rightscorp’s infringement notifications. Such non-specific allegations are insufficient to confer statutory standing on RCN.”
Last month, the major labels filed a separate complaint against ISP Frontier Communications, while Cox Communications in late May appealed the $1 billion verdict that it’s facing as part of a long-running legal battle with UMG, WMG, SME, and others.