Grande Communications was found guilty of willful infringement of over 1,400 copyrighted sound recordings. This is not the first time that an American internet service provider has been sued for copyright infringement.
The US record industry closed the year with a great victory in the fight against the misuse of copyright-protected content, after an American internet service provider (ISP) was found guilty of failing to do enough to mitigate copyright infringement.
On November 3, the ISP Grande Communications was convicted of infringement by its customers of more than 1400 tracks, according to a federal jury located in Austin, Texas. Specifically, the court found that the company failed to meet its legal obligations and was liable for “willful infringement of 1,403 copyrighted sound recordings”, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) noted in a statement.
As long as ISPs have systems in place to prevent piracy, they are usually not responsible for copyright infringement by their customers. Nevertheless, due to its failure to follow federal law regarding online piracy on its network, the Texas-based internet provider was held liable for willful infringement, according to the jury.
In its statement, RIAA was clear regarding this topic, as they affirmed that ISPs are not allowed to be “willfully blind to online piracy on their networks”.
Under federal law, the fine for copyright infringement ranges from $750 to $150,000 per piece. In the case of Grande Communications, the jury estimated that the amount to be paid would be $33,333 per piece.
Thus, the court established that the telecommunications and internet provider should pay $46.7 million in damages to a group of record labels represented by the RIAA, such as Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, Digital Music News stated.
“This is the latest validation by US courts and juries that unchecked online infringement will not stand”. RIAA’s Chairman and CEO, Mitch Glazier, said in a statement. “Artists, songwriters, rightsholders, fans, and legitimate services all depend upon a healthy digital music ecosystem that effectively protects creative works online”.
Other Similar Cases
In recent years, many internet businesses have been sued by copyright owners in the music industry. One example is the well-known case of ISP Cox Communications. In December 2019, the company was found guilty of violating over 10,000 music copyrights by its users. The company was obligated to pay a total of $1 billion to the labels.
Additionally, in August this year, Bright House Networks, a US ISP, faced a lawsuit for copyright infringement by several record labels, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music.
However, on this occasion, Universal Music – on behalf of the RIAA – declared that they “have resolved” the case against Bright House, without revealing the agreement’s details, according to Music Business Worldwide.
To date, Cox Communications is still appealing its judgement. As for Grande, it remains to be seen whether the ISP will follow suit.