Dealing with intellectual property matters is an important part of doing business. In a competitive marketplace, businesses need to ensure that they establish and protect their rights to intellectual property through appropriate legal action.
On the one hand, this means copyrighting and patenting, as well as obtaining trademark and industrial design protection. On the other hand, it also means enforcing intellectual property rights and avoiding infringing on the intellectual property rights of others. Failure to avoid infringement of intellectual property can be costly for businesses, as a recent case involving the Cox Communications shows.
The company was ordered by a Virginia jury in a copyright infringement dispute last month to pay $25 million for infringing on the rights of music publisher BMG Rights Management. The case involved allegations that Cox customers illegally uploaded and downloaded nearly 1,400 of BMG's songs between 2012 and 2014 using the file-sharing system known as BitTorrent.
The case is unique among copyright infringement disputes in that the music publisher chose to take an Internet service provider to court for copyright infringement rather than the Internet users who illegally traded the music. BMG based the litigation against Cox on the argument that the Internet provider knew about the infringement and profited from it, but did nothing to address it.
Under federal copyright law, Internet providers are able to claim immunity from copyright infringement claims, but they are required to take action against customers known to be violating the law. In this case, Cox was accused of failing to terminate service for repeat infringers, though the company denied the claim.
In our next post, we'll continue looking at this case as well as copyright infringement in general, particularly why it is important to work with experienced legal counsel in this area.