Cox Communications Sues BMG Over ‘Abusive’ Infringement Notices

Cox Communications has fired again in opposition to BMG and Rightscorp for allegedly participating in an “abusive and unfair marketing campaign” of intentionally sending hundreds of copyright infringement notices to an “improper e mail deal with,” as a part of “a thinly veiled try to use the procedures set forth by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

Atlanta-headquartered Cox Communications – which beforehand engaged in a multi-year courtroom confrontation with BMG, culminating in a “substantial settlement” in August of 2018 – not too long ago submitted the firmly worded grievance to a California federal courtroom.

Naming each BMG and copyright-enforcement company Rightscorp as defendants, the 22-page-long lawsuit states on the outset that the defendants have levied “tens of hundreds of invalid notices of alleged copyright infringement with the aim of fabricating huge claims for secondary infringement in opposition to Cox.”

Specifically, the mega-ISP, previous to December eleventh, 2017, had used the e-mail deal with “[email protected]” to obtain DMCA takedown requests in addition to “communications concerning some thirty different potential abuses of its community, together with notifications regarding such crucial points as hacking, spamming, phishing, id theft,” and extra.

After that date, Cox Communications “launched a brand new state-of-the-art system fully devoted to dealing with notices of alleged copyright infringement,” full with a brand new e mail deal with, “[email protected]” The plaintiff says that it’s spent “tens of millions of {dollars} in constructing and sustaining this extremely automated, devoted system,” and the previous e mail deal with stays in use for non-copyright points.

Cox then knowledgeable each rightsholders and their brokers (along with the Copyright Office, as required by the DMCA) of the change, partly by updating its web site accordingly, the authorized doc signifies. After the very fact, “nearly each rightsholder and agent started to make use of the brand new e mail deal with—apart from Defendants,” per the plaintiff.

Early October of 2018 noticed “Cox’s Senior IP Counsel” ship Rightscorp an e mail (at “[email protected],” which “is a sound e mail deal with of Rightscorp to this present day”), reiterating the copyright-notice email-address pivot and requesting “affirmation of receipt of the notification.”

But no such receipt arrived, the lawsuit maintains, and a second, comparable e mail in January of 2019 (purportedly despatched to the identical Rightscorp e mail deal with and, moreover, “[email protected]”) additionally didn’t elicit a receipt or an error message indicating a failed supply try.

However, this second e mail prompted Rightscorp to stop sending copyright infringement notices altogether – in order that Cox in mid-February of 2019 reached out and “requested that Rightscorp affirm that it was sending notices to the right deal with.” Said notices resumed in June of 2019 (albeit whereas making their option to Cox’s pre-update e mail deal with), setting the stage for one more e mail from Cox IP counsel (and no response from Rightscorp) in early August, in line with the authorized textual content.

“During the following months, Rightscorp wrongfully continued to barrage Cox with tens of hundreds of notices, ignoring Cox’s repeated requests to ship the notices to the right deal with,” the doc proceeds.

Cox Communications, “though underneath no obligation to take action,” configured its older e mail server to ahead Rightscorp’s notices to the right e mail deal with, in addition to processing these requests “in accordance with Cox’s insurance policies, as if they’d been correctly despatched. … The sheer quantity of notices Defendants despatched to this deal with, and the best way wherein Cox processed them, consumed Cox’s laptop and human sources.”

With these efforts having failed to supply a response or a change to the brand new e mail deal with, Cox says that it enlisted exterior counsel in June of 2020 to ship Rightscorp a licensed letter at its California enterprise deal with, “brokers for service of course of registered with the Delaware Department of State” (the place the corporate is included), and “the California Secretary of State (Rightscorp’s principal administrative center).”

The message – which Cox was in a position to affirm that people signed for – relayed that the 59-year-old ISP would stop accepting infringement notices on the previous e mail deal with “efficient instantly.” Rightscorp didn’t reply however, like earlier than, “stopped sending Cox notices for a number of months, from July 2020 by December 18, 2020.”

During this five-month stretch, the plaintiff rolled again the aforementioned characteristic that forwarded copyright-infringement notices from the previous deal with to the brand new one and likewise started dispatching “a ‘bounce-back’ e mail to any sender of a discover of alleged copyright infringement to the [email protected] deal with, which knowledgeable the sender that Cox wouldn’t course of the discover and of the right deal with to which to direct such discover.”

Nevertheless, Rightscorp resumed sending notices to the wrong deal with, together with greater than 50,000 notices “over just some weeks between December 2020 and January 2021.” Cox Communications, in late March of 2021, then fired off yet one more licensed letter, however “this time the letter was marked ‘Return to Sender’ and returned as undeliverable, regardless that the mailing deal with was (and stays) the” identical.

Moreover, so too was one other licensed message despatched “to the road deal with Rightscorp offered on its notices of claimed infringement” in addition to to BMG (to make the corporate “conscious that Rightscorp was sending improper notices on its behalf”) – although neither entity responded, per the swimsuit.

“In the month of April 2021 alone, Rightscorp despatched Cox greater than 75,000 invalid notices,” the textual content continues. “Cox has been pressured to expend vital sources to be able to determine and take away these notices from its [email protected] inbox and shut out and archive the inner tickets generated by these faulty emails.”

Finally, the multifaceted swimsuit states: “Rightscorp’s marketing strategy is straightforward, and corrupt: it floods an ISP with an unlimited variety of notices, every of which purports to accuse an web subscriber of copyright infringement. It calls for that the ISP ahead the notices to the accused subscribers. And with every discover that’s forwarded, Rightscorp makes an attempt to extort the receiving subscriber into making a financial settlement with Rightscorp.

“Rightscorp has refused to adjust to Cox’s request to ship notices to the right [email protected] e mail deal with in a thinly veiled effort to manufacture probably huge secondary infringement claims in opposition to Cox for Rightscorp’s shopper BMG and different potential purchasers.

“Defendants hope to manufacture an argument that Cox shouldn’t be entitled to DMCA protected harbor safety as a result of it didn’t appropriately terminate putative ‘repeat infringers,’” the lawsuit reads.

As a outcome, Cox is looking for a declaratory judgement that the notices at hand are invalid, notably as a result of it “anticipates that at any second BMG might file huge secondary infringement claims in opposition to it, primarily based on Rightscorp’s faulty notices.”

Plus, the ISP is looking for injunctive reduction for alleged violations of Section 17,200 of the California Business & Professions Code in addition to “compensatory and punitive damages.”

At the time of this piece’s publishing, BMG and Rightscorp didn’t seem to have responded publicly to Cox’s lawsuit. Separately, the latter entity is officially appealing the $1 billion copyright infringement verdict {that a} jury levied in opposition to it in December of 2019.


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