Cox stiffed for $25m after letting subscribers pirate music online

ISP didn't do enough to curb illegal downloads, appeal court rules

US cable provider Cox has to pay $25m to music publisher BMG for failing to crack down on its subscribers' music piracy.

This week, the Eastern Virginia District Court has tossed out [PDF] Cox's appeal of a jury verdict awarding the damages to BMG after deciding that Cox had failed to properly act on warnings that its users were sharing copyrighted music illegally.

Cox had appealed the earlier verdict and asked Judge Liam O'Grady to overturn the jury's decision as a matter of law – an appeal that Judge O'Grady declined this week along with BMG's own attempts to claim further damages and a permanent injunction against Cox.

The judge said that the jury had more than enough evidence to conclude that Cox did not do enough to warrant Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protections, when it ignored repeated attempts by BMG to track and crack down on users downloading pirated music while on Cox's network.

The case stems from complaints by BMG that Cox had been ignoring millions of infringement notices it had filed, and had blacklisted some of the services BMG used to track and report music piracy by Cox customers. The music publisher alleged that Cox should be held liable for the infringement, as it had not properly complied with the DMCA rules that otherwise shield ISPs from infringement.

Cox had filed objection to the verdict, arguing that BMG's evidence and instructions to the jury had been improperly admitted. Judge O'Grady, however, disagreed and ruled this week that the verdict should stand.

"In sum, the court finds Cox has not identified any ground that would warrant a new trial," the judge declared.

The decision was not a total loss for Cox, however. Judge O'Grady also denied BMG's request that the court hit Cox with another injunction that would provide further penalties against the ISP when users were found to be illegally downloading content.

With the decision, Cox remains on the hook for the $25m jury decision but will not need to pay further penalties or face additional restrictions. As far as the Eastern Virginia court is concerned, the case is now closed. ®

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