The copyright case that should worry all Internet providers

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Will Internet providers have to start cracking down harder on their own customers for suspected copyright infringement? That's one of the big questions being raised in the wake of an obscure court ruling that finds that Cox Communications is liable for the illegal music and movie downloads of its subscribers.

A federal judge said Cox Communications will have to pay a $25 million penalty that a jury had awarded in December to BMG, the music rights company. BMG had been using a third-party company called Rightscorp to monitor the Internet for filesharing activity and notify Internet providers when it found evidence of it. The expectation was that Cox would pass along Rightscorp's notices to consumers. BMG claimed that Cox was dragging its feet and using a variety of technical means to keep the notices from reaching its affected customers. The court ruled in favor of BMG's argument that Cox should be held liable because it not only knew that its users were illegally downloading copyrighted content, it also took actions that contributed to it.

The finding that Cox is liable for its customers' piracy should absolutely worry other Internet providers, according to legal analysts at the consumer group Public Knowledge.


The copyright case that should worry all Internet providers