Music labels win $46.7 million from internet service provider in piracy lawsuit

Music labels win $46.7 million from internet service provider in piracy lawsuit

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  • Grande Communications d’Astound held responsible for the violation by the user
  • Label plaintiffs once won Cox $1 billion in similar case

(Reuters) – Astound Broadband’s internet service provider Grande Communications Networks LLC is to pay a group of music labels $46.7 million after its user pirated more than 1,400 copyrighted works , a federal jury in Austin, Texas decided Thursday.

Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Records and other labels convinced the jury that San Marcos, Texas-based Grande committed willful copyright infringement by failing to act against subscribers who were repeat offenders.

A lawyer for Grande did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Labels attorney Andy Bart of Jenner & Block said in an email that they were “grateful that the jury recognized the critical role that ISPs play in the fight against piracy.”

Labels like Universal, Sony and Warner won a $1 billion verdict in a similar lawsuit against Cox Communications in Virginia in 2019. Cox’s appeal against that verdict is still pending.

The labels also sued several other ISPs for allegedly turning a blind eye to user hacking, including Frontier Communications, Charter Communications and RCN Corp.

Grande, now part of Princeton, New Jersey-based Astound of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, was sued by the labels in 2017. The lawsuit said the labels own the rights to “the vast majority” of the recordings sold in the United States from some of the most popular musicians of all time, ranging from Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd to Tony Bennett.

According to the complaint, the labels sent Grande notifications of “more than a million violations” by thousands of subscriber accounts that pirated music through BitTorrent software. They accused Grande of failing to act in order to avoid losing revenue from infringing subscribers.

Grande told the court it was “simply an internet service provider and never instigated or encouraged anyone to infringe.” He also argued that the label reviews were wrong and that the alleged damages were excessive.

The case is UMG Recordings Inc v. Grande Communications Networks LLC, US District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 1:17-cv-00365.

For Grande: Armstrong Teasdale’s Richard Brophy

For labels: Andrew Bart of Jenner & Block

Read more:

Cox to pay $1 billion to music labels and publishers for piracy violation

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Contact him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

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