Altice USA Faces Yet Another $1 Billion+ Copyright Lawsuit — ‘An Attractive Tool and Safe Haven for Infringement’

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

New York City-headquartered internet service provider (ISP) Altice USA is officially facing yet another $1 billion+ copyright lawsuit stemming from its alleged failure to stop subscribers’ repeat infringement.

Plaintiffs including Warner Music, Sony Music, their publishing units, and a number of their subsidiaries only recently submitted the firmly worded complaint against Altice USA (NYSE: ATUS), with Concord, Universal Music, and BMG having levied a separate action against the same business about one year back.

While the suits have much in common, the newer of the cases centers specifically on alleged infringement committed by Altice subscribers between December of 2020 and December of 2023. For the period, the plaintiffs identified a total of almost 170 pages (each featuring about 70 works) of allegedly infringed recordings and compositions, releases from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, and Fleetwood Mac among them.

And as the filing parties see it, Altice “knowingly contributed to, and reaped substantial profits from” the alleged infringement by failing “to take reasonable measures to prevent customers from” downloading protected media sans permission.

These “reasonable measures” should have included cutting the internet services of allegedly infringing subscribers, who were drawn to Altice because they could “infringe copyright-protected music efficiently, extensively, and repeatedly, without consequence,” according to the legal text.

On the other side of the equation, the ISP allegedly “condoned the illegal activity because this activity was popular with subscribers and acted as a draw.”

Besides the aforementioned sizable lists of allegedly infringed works, the plaintiffs claim to have forwarded north of 70,000 notices of alleged file-sharing infringement (pinpointed by OpSec, formerly MarkMonitor, and complete with the relevant IP addresses) to Altice between February of 2020 and November of 2023.

“Altice’s motivation for refusing to terminate or suspend the accounts of blatant infringing subscribers is simple: Altice valued corporate profits over its legal responsibilities,” Warner Music and Sony Music wrote towards the relatively straightforward action’s end.

The plaintiffs are pushing to receive the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each allegedly infringed work, hence the initially highlighted sum of over $1 billion in total and a high-end range well above that.

Bigger picture, this suit represents one of several music industry infringement actions against ISPs. Last week, the major labels urged a Texas federal court to uphold the $46.8 million jury verdict handed down against Grande Communications in 2022, which also delivered a settlement with Charter Communications.

Though nothing to scoff at, the nearly $47 million penalty pales in comparison to the staggering $1 billion that a different jury awarded the majors four years ago in a legal battle with Cox Communications. Predictably, Cox has in the interim been appealing and firing back against the verdict, including with far-reaching accusations about the evidence at hand.