The US Internet provider Cox has been ordered to pay a billion-dollar fine because users of the service illegally copied 10,000 pieces of music without the provider intervening.
Penalty for failure to intervene
The Internet provider itself was not directly involved in the unlawful file sharing. Rather, the offense for which he was convicted consisted of failing to prevent file sharing by others on web space deposited with him. In 2013 and 2014, users of the provider copied a total of 10,017 pieces of music. The rights holders brought this to Cox’s attention and asked it to put a stop to the practice. However, Cox did not comply with the request, whereupon a lawsuit was filed.
The Federal District Court for Eastern Virginia has now sentenced the provider for this contribution to illegal file sharing. He is to pay a fine of just under 100,000 US dollars per piece of music – resulting in a total of one billion dollars. With this, the court still remained below the maximum amount set by law: a maximum penalty of 150,000 dollars per infringement is provided for.
Reduction request rejected
Following the ruling, Cox asked for a reduction in the amount to be paid, pointing out that not all of the music was standalone – for example, the 10,017 tracks included remixes derived from other tracks that were also among the 10,017 illegally copied. In this, Cox saw a double punishment of an infringement. However, the court denied the motion, citing that such arguments should have been made during the jury trial. Cox now still has the option of appealing. The case would then go to the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.