UMG, BMG, and Concord Name Altice USA In $1 Billion+ Copyright Suit, Claim the ISP ‘Deliberately Turned a Blind Eye to Its Subscribers’ Infringement’

altice usa copyright lawsuit
  • Save

altice usa copyright lawsuit
  • Save
An Altice USA call center. Photo Credit: Hudconja

BMG, Concord, and Universal Music Group (UMG) have officially filed a more than $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against New York City-headquartered internet-service provider (ISP) Altice USA.

The noted music-company plaintiffs (as well as UMG’s Capitol Records) just recently submitted the over billion-dollar complaint to a federal court in Texas, where Altice is said to operate “approximately two-dozen physical locations.”

Additionally, the publicly traded ISP (NYSE: ATUS) “plans to open up 15 more locations and invest $500 million in the state” moving forward, per the music companies, which have accused the defendant business of deliberately turning “a blind eye to its subscribers’ infringement” in order to profit “from those subscribers in the form of ongoing subscription fees.”

After reiterating the basics of copyright infringement and providing an overview of the platforms utilized to access protected media without permission (“BitTorrent has been widely used as a vehicle to distribute without authorization”), the 22-page-long suit dives into the specifics of Altice’s alleged decision “to permit infringement to run rampant” among its subscribers. According to the plaintiffs, the ISP has customers in a minimum of 21 states at present.

“Altice knew that its subscribers routinely used its internet services in order to illegally distribute or reproduce copyrighted works, including music, without authorization,” reads the action, proceeding to claim that the company “continued to provide internet services to even the most prolific infringers” because it “valued corporate profits over its responsibilities.”

“Altice did not want to lose subscriber revenue by terminating accounts of infringing subscribers,” the suit drives home. “Retaining infringing subscribers directly and financially benefitted Altice. Nor did Altice want to risk the possibility that account terminations would deter other existing or prospective subscribers.”

Regarding the details of the alleged IP theft, the plaintiffs maintain that “Altice has received over a million notices of infringement” involving their works during “the past several years.” These notices are said to have “concerned close to 20,000 Altice subscribers,” with “many” alleged offenders described in the legal text as “chronic and repeat infringers.”

“Many of Altice’s subscribers continued to infringe 30 days or more after Altice first received notice of that user’s infringement with regard to a Plaintiff’s work,” Universal Music, Concord, and BMG wrote. “Indeed, many continued to infringe for 100 or more days, or even for six months to several years, with apparent impunity from Altice.”

Estimating based upon the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each of the allegedly infringed compositions and recordings as well as a staggering 176 pages’ worth of purportedly infringed works, UMG, Concord, and BMG are seeking over $1 billion from the Optimum owner.

At the time of this writing, Altice didn’t appear to have publicly responded to the suit, which closely resembles other music industry copyright complaints filed against ISPs including Charter/Bright House, Frontier, and Cox.