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Cox hits out at BMG’s proposed anti-piracy injunction

By | Published on Tuesday 16 February 2016

Cox Communications

US internet service provider Cox Communications has hit out at proposals put forward by BMG for an injunction that would force the net firm to proactively police piracy on its networks and take action against infringers.

As previously reported, BMG scored a big win against Cox last year in a legal battle over the way the ISP has responded in the past when the music rights firm has alerted it to copyright infringement on its networks.

Unlike most other big internet providers in the US, Cox is not part of the Copyright Alert System initiative, instead having its own processes for dealing with copyright infringement complaints. But BMG argued that that was a deliberately shoddy system, designed to ensure that Cox didn’t have to cut off or penalise too many infringing customers.

BMG prevailed it is legal action against Cox, with a judge concluding that the firm could not rely on safe harbour protection – designed to protect net firms from liability for their customers’ infringement – because it didn’t do enough to aid copyright owners seeking to enforce their rights.

In response to that ruling, BMG is now seeking a permanent injunction that would force Cox to be extra proactive in cracking down on piracy. The music firm’s proposals would oblige Cox to monitor traffic on its network looking for copyright infringing activities, and to then terminate the accounts of infringers, as well as handing over their information to the relevant copyright owners or their agents, who could then sue the user.

But, says Cox, these proposals are too wide-ranging, too vague, and possibly illegal. Said the net firm in its response last week: “To the extent the injunction requires either termination or surveillance, it imposes undue hardships on Cox, both because the order is vague and because it imposes disproportionate, intrusive, and punitive measures against households and businesses with no due process”.

On the monitoring processes proposed by BMG, it adds: “The evidence at trial showed that Cox cannot use deep packet inspection or other tools to police its users’ activities because surveillance to detect the contents of user transmissions is likely illegal. The evidence showed that Cox does not track where users go on the internet; that Cox does not know what content passes over its system, and that Cox cannot identify, much less block, which files a subscriber accesses or shares using BitTorrent”.

Concluding, with another dig at BMG’s anti-piracy agent Rightscorp – whose tactics have been criticised by some, and especially Cox – the ISP says: “BMG’s proposed injunction threatens the public interest. It blindly punishes consumers by terminating their internet access based on mere accusations, invading their privacy, and forcing them into a relationship with known abuser Rightscorp”.