After a two-week trial, a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet service provider Cox Communications must pay $25 million to music publisher BMG Rights Management for its customers' downloading of pirated content.
The issue started back in 2014 when the music company sued the ISP for not taking action on its subscribers' illegal downloading despite knowing about it.
During the hearing, BMG presented the findings of the tracking firm Rightscorp, revealing that the company acquired over 150,000 copies of the music company's copyrighted work from Cox customers.
Moreover, Rightscorp disclosed that it has sent multiple copyright infringement warnings to Cox, where the ISP deliberately did not act on them.
The case at hand was limited to 1,397 works, where the six-person jury granted the $25 million payment in damages. On that note, it is a little over 10 percent of the $200 million statutory maximum.
TorrentFreak uploaded a copy of the verdict (PDF).
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady declared that Cox is not eligible to be under DMCA safe-harbor protections for not cancelling the accounts of repeat offenders.
Also, the music company said that the ISP profited from its customers' pirating activities. However, the jury ruled that the evidence to back this claim was insufficient.
Depending on the outcome, the entire matter could have a significant impact on how other Internet service providers in the United States run their business. Currently, it's uncommon for users to get disconnected for pirating content.
Bruce Boyden, a Marquette University Law School professor, says that service providers will begin to forward copyright infringement warnings after the case, noting that the entire lawsuit is "trailblazing."
Cox is looking to appeal the verdict, reviewing the company's legal options.
"We are unhappy with the decision, will review the ruling in detail and are considering our options, including appeal," Todd Smith, a Cox representative, says.
Both Cox and BMG are yet to give out their official statements.
Photo: Sam Howzit | Flickr