Cable company hit with $25 million penalty, $8 million legal bill for not cracking down on music piracy

Known fact: people pirate music online. It’s hard to track down each offender, and even taking individuals to task, it’s like the little boy sticking his finger in the dam only to have another leak pop up. Music publishers have tried to put the burden on internet service providers (ISP’s) to crack down on pirates.

In this copyright action, the putative owners of more than 1,400 musical composition copyrights seek to hold Cox Communications, Inc. and Cox Com, LLC (collectively, “Cox”) contributorily and vicariously liable for alleged copyright infringement taking place over its high-speed internet service,” began the case against Cox Communications (more commonly known as Cox Cable) by music publisher BMG.

Representing artists like Bruno Mars and David Bowie, BMG was awarded $25 million dollars in the suit. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that Cox didn’t take enough action against piracy to get protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protections. BMG claimed Cox has ignored millions of infringement notices (more than 2.5 million) it had filed from illegal use by its customers.

Now Cox has been hit again. This time, it’s an $8 million dollar bill for legal fees. The federal judge on the case said Cox needed to pay attorney fees for BMG in order to not discourage any other potential litigants from suing big companies. In other words, if the price tag to sue is $8 million, how many people or companies can afford to sue? The hefty bill would like “deter other potential plaintiffs from seeking to enforce their rights,” according to US District Judge Liam O’Grady.

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