WMG

Cox Communications wins order overturning $1 bln US copyright verdict

By Blake Brittain

Feb 20 (Reuters) - Cox Communications [RIC:RIC:COXC.UL], the cable television and internet service provider, convinced a U.S. appeals court to throw out a $1 billion jury verdict in favor of several major record labels that had accused it of failing to curb user piracy, setting the stage for a new trial on the matter.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruled on Tuesday that the amount of damages was not justified and that a federal district court should hold a new trial to determine the appropriate amount.

A Virginia jury in 2019 found Cox, the largest unit of privately owned Cox Enterprises, liable for its customers' violations of over 10,000 copyrights belonging to labels including Sony Music Entertainment 6758.T, Warner Music Group WMG.O and Universal Music Group UMG.AS.

Representatives for Cox and the labels did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.

More than 50 labels teamed up to sue Cox in 2018, in what was seen as a test of the obligations of internet service providers (ISPs) to thwart piracy.

The labels accused Cox of failing to address thousands of infringement notices, cut off access for repeat infringers, or take reasonable measures to deter pirates.

Atlanta-based Cox had told the 4th Circuit that upholding the verdict would force ISPs to boot households or businesses based on "isolated and potentially inaccurate allegations," or require intrusive oversight of customers' internet usage.

Other ISPs, including Charter Communications CHTR.O, Frontier Communications and Astound Broadband, formerly RCN, have also been sued by the record labels.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain; Editing by David Bario and Andrea Ricci)

((Blake.Brittain@thomsonreuters.com))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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