25 April 2017
Reporter: Mark Dugdale

RIAA lashes out at internet service provider

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has taken aim at ISP Grande Communications after BMG Rights Management’s successful litigation against Cox Communications.

The RIAA has accused the ISP of copyright infringement. It lodged the complaint on behalf of its members in district court in Texas on 21 April, alleging that Grande Communications refused to take meaningful against subscribers who repeatedly and illegally download music via BitTorrent networks.

“Repeat infringers” must have their accounts terminated under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbour provisions, otherwise ISPs could be held liable for their infringement.

This was a test that Cox Communications failed in December 2015, when a district court sided with BMG and held the ISP liable after failing to terminate subscriber accounts.

BMG was awarded $25 million in damages in 2015, as well as $8.3 million in legal fees and costs earlier this year.

The RIAA claimed in its complaint against Grande Communications that the ISP failed to terminate accounts, despite being passed proof that almost 2,000 of its subscribers had engaged in 100 instances of infringement, a clear violation of the DMCA.

This data came from copyright enforcement agency Rightscorp, which also played a role in the result against Cox Communications.

Upon the award of $8.3 million in legal fees and costs to BMG earlier this year, Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec issued a warning to ISPs: “Our company has also amassed a vast amount of data documenting infringements that have occurred over the past five years on the networks of essentially every ISP in the country. That data is available to copyright holders that choose to enforce their rights against ISPs that are not taking action against repeat infringers.”

The RIAA is a valuable customer to Rightscorp, according to its latest financial results. The music trade group accounted for nearly 44 percent of its sales in 2016. BMG accounted for 22 percent of sales.

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