Will Internet service providers have to crack down on their users for copyright infringement? This is one of the big questions being raised in the light of an obscure ruling by Court that finds Cox Communications liable for illegal downloads by subscribers.
Recently, a Federal judge asked Cox Communications to pay a sum of twenty five million dollars as penalty to BMG, the music rights company. BMG made use of a third party company named Rightscorp to monitor internet file sharing activities and notify ISPs when found evidence of illegal file sharing and downloads. They found that Cox subscribers were making illegal music and movie downloads and notified Cox about the same.
The expectation was that Cox Communications would pass the same to their consumers. However, BMG said that Cox used many technical means to keep the notices from reaching their subscribers. The Court ruled in favor of BMG and said that Cox knew their customers were downloading copyright content illegally, and also said that the ISP took steps that contributed to it.
According to legal analysts, this ruling should worry other ISPs. The ruling raises questions on what else ISPs may be liable for other than copyrights, and what the risk of litigation means for the ISPs. This can also lead to increased monitoring and control of internet usage by individual subscribers.
Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon refused to respond on the ruling. However, Cox said in a statement that, “We are disappointed in the ruling and plan to appeal.”
Rightscorp said that they welcomed the decision in their statement. “For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned U.S. internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights,” they said.