A Texas federal jury ruled Thursday (November 3) that an Internet service provider should pay the three major record labels and others more than $46 million in damages for music downloaded illegally by Internet subscribers. society.
After a month-long trial, jurors concluded Grande Communications was legally liable for its users’ copyright infringement – and owed separate damages for each of the more than 1,400 pirated songs. on the corporate network.
The case is one of many such cases filed by music companies against ISPs, aimed at forcing them to take more proactive measures to eliminate piracy on their networks. In 2019, the labels won a shocking billion dollar verdict against Cox Communications in a similar case.
Grande’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on the verdict. Mitch Vitrierthe head of the Recording Industry Association of America, called it “the final validation by American courts and juries that unchecked online infringement will not hold.”
“The forceful jury action here sends an important message to Internet service providers,” Glazier said. “Artists, songwriters, rights holders, fans and legitimate services all depend on a healthy digital music ecosystem that effectively protects creative works online.”
Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment teamed up to sue Grande in 2017, claiming the company hooked itself by failing to take action against users who repeatedly pirated music.
“Defendants have been notified that their Internet customers have engaged in over a million infringements,” the labels’ attorneys wrote at the time, but “allowed repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence”.
Internet service providers are generally not liable for individual infringements committed by their millions of users, thanks to the “safe harbour” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But beginning in the mid-2010s, music companies began to argue that ISPs had lost that immunity by ignoring the DMCA’s requirement to terminate “repeat offenders” from their network.
Beginning with a landmark case filed by BMG Rights Management against Cox, these arguments have repeatedly proven successful. Major labels have filed similar lawsuits against Cox, Charter, RCN and other ISPs in courts nationwide, winning huge verdicts like the $1 billion award against Cox (which is currently pending appeal ).
Faced with such a lawsuit, Grande fired back by saying the music industry was wrongly trying to turn ISPs into “copyright police.” Grande said such allegations should really be aimed at real people who steal music, but record companies have stopped pursuing them “due to bad publicity.” It was a reference to a series of controversial lawsuits filed in the 2000s, including one that ordered a Boston student to pay $675,000 for pirating just 30 songs.
But the federal judge hearing the case denied Grande’s motions and sent the case to trial, which began last month. After Thursday’s verdict, the company can appeal the decision, first asking the judge to overturn it, then taking the case to a federal appeals court.
Read the verdict form here: