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Cox settles dispute with BMG, Rightscorp over copyright notices

3 minute read

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Illustration

  • Cox Communications argued defendants misfiled notices to inflate infringement claims
  • ISP confirms parties resolved dispute

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(Reuters) - Cox Communications has settled its dispute with BMG Rights Management and Rightscorp in Los Angeles federal court over thousands of copyright notices they allegedly misfiled to inflate their potential infringement claims against the internet service provider, according to the company and a Tuesday court filing.

Cox spokesperson Matt Freeman said in a Tuesday email that the matter had been resolved and that Rightscorp had changed its infringement reporting process and withdrawn the notices at issue. Cox agreed to dismiss its claims with prejudice on Tuesday, meaning they can't be refiled.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer is presiding over the case.

In a lawsuit filed in May, Cox had accused BMG and Rightscorp, which files copyright notices in BMG's behalf, of exploiting the process set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — which requires ISPs to take down infringing material after receiving notices — to build false claims that Cox hasn't complied with the law and is liable for "massive" infringement by its users.

BMG and Rightscorp didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did its attorneys Michael Allan and Bill Toth of Steptoe & Johnson. Jennifer Golinveaux of Winston & Strawn represents Cox.

Cox said in its lawsuit that it had changed the email address for its registered agent for DMCA claims in 2017. According to the complaint, Cox told Rightscorp to send notices to the new address several times between 2018 and 2021, and that notices sent to the old address wouldn't be processed, to no avail, and that Rightscorp sent more than 75,000 notices to the wrong address in April of this year alone.

"Plainly, Defendants intend to claim that Cox's decision not to process these invalid notices renders it ineligible for the DMCA's safe harbor protections and, therefore, subject to potentially astronomical monetary damages," the complaint said.

BMG had won a $25 million jury verdict in Virginia federal court against Cox in 2015 over subscriber infringement, which the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded earlier in 2018 based on faulty jury instructions. The parties then settled later that year.

The case is Cox Communications Inc v. BMG Rights Management (US) LLC, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:21-cv-03756.

For Cox: Jennifer Golinveaux of Winston & Strawn

For BMG and Rightscorp: Michael Allan and Bill Toth of Steptoe & Johnson

Read more:

Cox accuses BMG, Rightscorp of misfiling copyright notices to inflate claims

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

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