The Big Three Sue an ISP for Enabling Copyright Infringement

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The so-called Big Three record companies—Universal, Sony, and Warner—have sued to hold an internet service provider liable for facilitating its customers’ copyright infringement.

In their complaint, the major labels allege RCN Telecom has been aware for years of rampant copyright infringement by its subscribers, thousands of whom they assert include repeat offenders. See UMG Recordings, Inc., et al. v. RCN Telecom Servs., LLC et al., 19-cv-17272 (D.N.J.). The federal suit contends RCN has received more than 5 million infringement notices, but turned a blind eye to music piracy by continuing to provide high speed internet to these users. The major labels claim RCN’s inaction facilitated copyright infringement and caused RCN to become a “haven for infringement.” While the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act typically shield ISPs from liability for their users’ infringement, the Big Three allege RCN forfeited the statutory protection by ignoring the DMCA’s requirement that it adopt and reasonably implement a policy to terminate repeat infringers.

Through their claims for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, the Big Three seek their actual damages or statutory damages under the Copyright Act for up to $150,000 per work infringed, a permanent injunction from infringing and facilitating others to infringe their copyrights, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

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