Ruthless Music Pirates Could Cost Cox $200 Million In BMG Lawsuit

Internet service providers (ISPs) and music labels alike are keeping a close eye on the outcome of a lawsuit BMG filed against Cox Communications. Following a week of trial hearings, BMG has asked the court to confirm that Cox failed to disprove that it's responsible for illegal sharing of copyrighted music that occurs on its network.

If Cox is held responsible, it could face a fine of more than $200 million. That proposed amount takes into consideration 1,397 copyrighted songs that are part of the suit, each of which carries a maximum $150,000 in damages. All tallied, it comes to precisely $209,550,000, assuming a max penalty in each instance.

Cox Truck

BMG's lawsuit claims that tracking company Rightscorp detected more than 1.8 million instances of infringement. The firm was able to download over 150,000 copies of BMG's copyrighted songs directly from Cox subscribers, and because Rightscorp doesn't capture everything, those figures could be conservative.

Why hold Cox responsible for what its subscribers do? BMG contends that Cox essentially ignored the illegal activity occurring on its network. It further accuses of Cox of standing idly by even after it was sent numerous copyright infringement notices. Beyond that, BMG says Cox even encourages illegal activity.

“Cox not only knowingly provides the means by which the infringement of BMG’s copyrights occurs, the evidence is undisputed that Cox promotes its high-speed internet services for the purpose of downloading and sharing music," BMG writes in its lawsuit. "Because Cox’s network constitutes the sites and facilities by which the infringement of BMG’s occurs through BitTorrent and P2P, Cox has materially contributed to the infringement of BMG’s copyrights as a matter of law. No reasonable jury could find otherwise."

Things aren't looking great for Cox. Prior to the trial, Judge O'Grady declared that Cox was not entitled to DMCA safe-harbor protections because it didn't close accounts of subscribers who repeatedly shared copyrighted songs.