Court Reverses $25 Million Copyright Ruling against Cox®

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Copyright Ruling Reversed

Reports from several reliable sources claim that the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has finally thrown out the $25 million piracy liability ruling against one of the best internet providers in the country, Cox Communications®. The Court made this decision due to an erroneous jury instruction. So, it is evident that there will be a fresh trial for this case. However, it is significant to note that the Court has stated that the telecom giant has lost their safe harbor protection because they were unable to implement a meaningful and accurate repeat infringer policy.

A Virginia federal jury had ruled that the fastest internet provider, Cox® was responsible for the copyright infringements of their subscribers back in the year 2015. In addition to that, the leading internet service provider was also held guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement. As a result, the court asked Cox Communications® to pay $25 million in damages to the pay music publisher BMG Rights Management.

Cox® immediately responded to this court verdict and they went on to a file an appeal against the ruling of the District Court by pointing out multiple errors in jury instructions. In addition to that, the officials from the telecom company added that they wanted a clarification of the term “repeat infringer”. However, in the recent ruling, the Fourth Circuit did admit that the District Court has made mistakes in their jury instruction.

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Furthermore, the Fourth Circuit added that Cox Communications® could be held responsible for contributory infringement if they “knew or should have known of such infringing activity.” The Court of Appeals also stated that according to the law, the “should have known” standard is very low.

The Court added, “Cox formally adopted a repeat infringer ‘policy,’ but made every effort to avoid reasonably implementing that policy. Indeed, in carrying out its thirteen-strike process, Cox very clearly determined not to terminate subscribers who in fact repeatedly violated the policy.”

The judge wrote, “Cox failed to qualify for the safe harbor because it failed to implement its policy in any consistent or meaningful way leaving it essentially with no policy. The formulation ‘should have known’ reflects negligence and is therefore too low a standard. Because there is a reasonable probability that this erroneous instruction affected the jury’s verdict, we remand for a new trial.”

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