Appeals Court Partially Overturns $1 Billion Verdict Against Cox Communications in Copyright Infringement Case

U.S. Appeals Court Overturns $1 Billion Cox Communications Infringement Verdict, Orders ‘A New Trial on Damages’

Years after a jury issued a landmark verdict ordering Cox Communications to pay major labels $1 billion for alleged vicarious and contributory copyright infringement, a significant development has emerged on appeal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has partially overturned the verdict, triggering a new trial focused on damages. This latest development in the protracted legal battle was revealed today in the court’s decision.

The legal saga, which has been closely followed since its inception, saw Cox held liable for $1 billion just before Christmas in 2019. The substantial penalty stemmed from accusations that the internet service provider failed to adequately address alleged piracy among its subscribers.

The initial lawsuit, one of several filed by major labels against internet companies, alleged that Cox’s subscribers engaged in piracy dating back to 2013 and 2014, involving over 10,000 works.

Appeals Court Partially Overturns $1 Billion Verdict Against Cox Communications in Copyright Infringement Case
Appeals Court Partially Overturns $1 Billion Verdict Against Cox Communications in Copyright Infringement Case (Credits: BNN Breaking)

Throughout the appeals process, contentious issues such as the exact number of infringed works and the accuracy of infringement notices have been hotly debated, adding twists and turns to the dispute.

In its recent decision, the appellate court overturned the vicarious liability verdict, stating that Cox did not directly profit from its subscribers’ infringement. Judge Allison Rushing clarified that, according to the correct legal standard, no reasonable jury could find that Cox received a direct financial benefit from the infringement.

Due to this “legally erroneous finding” and its potential impact on the substantial statutory damages awarded by the jury, the appellate court ordered a new trial specifically focused on damages.

However, the court upheld the jury’s verdict of contributory infringement against Cox, disregarding the ISP’s argument regarding past infringement notices. According to Judge Rushing, Cox forfeited this argument for appeal by not raising it in the district court. The court found sufficient evidence to support the verdict that Cox materially contributed to copyright infringement and that its conduct was blameworthy.

Additionally, the appellate court addressed Cox’s argument concerning the inclusion of certain overlapping works when calculating damages. The district court had previously ruled that Cox failed to provide pertinent information to the jury, preventing the consolidation of allegedly infringed works after the trial. A

s a result, the appellate court affirmed the district court’s denial of judgment as a matter of law, noting that Cox did not present evidence to the jury regarding whether infringed works were part of albums.

In summary, while the appellate court overturned part of the verdict, a new trial focusing on damages is imminent, maintaining the legal battle’s complexity and significance.

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