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Nearly a year after two music publishers and online copyright cop Rightscorp initiated a high-stakes lawsuit against Cox Communications, a judge has made a ruling that’s potentially devastating to Cox’s case.
US District Judge Liam O’Grady has ruled that Cox isn’t protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions. That’s the part of the DMCA that protects “online service providers” from copyright lawsuits if they comply with various parts of the DMCA, including the obligation to terminate “repeat infringers.” Now one of the music publishers, BMG Rights Management, will move toward a trial slated to start December 2.
BMG is using data from Rightscorp to make its case that Cox blew off its legal obligations to help copyright owners. In the original lawsuit (PDF), plaintiffs BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music argued that the Rightscorp data allows them to identify “repeat infringers” that use BitTorrent to download large quantities of music. Rightscorp insists that ISPs like Cox must respond when it identifies those users and forward its notices demanding $20 per song or else face a copyright lawsuit. After a few years of such data collection, two of Rightscorp’s biggest clients finally acted on that threat, filing suit against Cox in 2014.