ISP hopes to defeat record labels’ piracy liability claims in trial *TorrentFreak

Three years ago, several of the biggest music companies in the world, including Warner Bros. and Sony Music, sued internet provider Grande Communications.

Record labels have accused the ISP, which is owned by Astound, of not doing enough to stop the hacking of subscribers. Specifically, they alleged that the company failed to terminate repeat offenders.

Since the lawsuit was filed, both sides have been back and forth in court with various arguments and accusations. The legal battle will soon go to trial and both sides filed preparatory documents in court this week.

As part of the jury selection process, the record labels and ISP submitted their statement, which provides a clear and concise overview of the issues at stake.

Grande denies any responsibility

Grande Communications believes that it should not be held liable for alleged copyright infringements committed by its subscribers. The company presents itself as a neutral service provider that has never encouraged any kind of hacking.

“Grande disputes the plaintiffs’ assertion that Grande is liable for acts of copyright infringement allegedly committed by its subscribers. Grande claims that it is simply an internet service provider and has never instigated or encouraged anyone to infringe the plaintiffs’ copyrights. »

big claim

The ISP calls the record company’s piracy monitoring service Rightscorp, which Grande says cannot accurately or reliably identify copyright violations. Additionally, the hack tracking company allegedly destroyed or failed to preserve key evidence.

As a result, copyright infringement notices sent by Rightcorp via email were insufficient to warrant drastic action, Grande suggests. Therefore, the company firmly believes that it should not be held liable.

“The emails from Rightscorp to Grande were flawed and unreliable, due to flaws in Rightscorp’s system and because the emails lacked supporting or verifiable evidence,” the ISP notes.

Record labels are looking for millions

The record companies’ statement supports the polar opposite. According to the music companies, it is clear that the ISP is responsible, alleging that Grande willfully profited from the hacking of subscribers.

With 1,422 sound recordings at stake, the amount of potential damages the jury can award exceeds $213 million.

At trial, the labels plan to show the jury that Grande had known about this piracy problem since the early 2000s. Initially, he responded by shutting down subscribers’ accounts, but over time the ISP changed his cap.

“[B]Beginning in 2010, in an effort to increase profits, Grande eliminated its termination policy and instead opted to allow its subscribers to freely infringe copyright without any consequences,” the labels write.

After that decision, the music companies sent out over a million piracy notices and they allege Grande didn’t terminate even a single account in response.

“Yet, despite knowing or deliberately avoiding knowledge of repeat violations specifically identified by its customers, Grande continued to provide these customers with the internet service essential to the prosecution of their unlawful conduct,” write -they.

The absence of termination would have allowed the Internet service provider to increase its profits while causing significant damage to the labels and their artists.

Do you read TorrentFreak?

In addition to statements, both sides will also ask potential jury members to answer a series of questions. These can help detect biases and other issues that might make a person unfit to sit on the bench.

Label questions are similar to those we’ve reported in the past. They want to know how familiar the candidates are with file sharing and whether they have ever downloaded anything from The Pirate Bay or other torrent sites.

There are also questions about using stream extraction services and EFF support. Additionally, TorrentFreak also gets a mention, along with Ars Technica, another news site.

“Have you ever read or visited Ars Technica or TorrentFreak? If so, for what type of material? the labels consider soliciting potential jury members.


These questions could theoretically point potential jurors in a certain direction. Even those who have never heard of TorrentFreak may be intrigued by the question and start reading it in the future. But that’s probably not the point here.

Record companies aren’t the only ones asking questions of course. Grande Communications has also prepared a list, hoping to point out bias or other disqualifying factors.

The ISP asks, for example, if the applicants are musicians or if they have ever worked in a record company, and if they think it is the responsibility of an ISP to monitor and control online piracy .

To advance

Once the members of the jury have been selected, the case will go to trial in a few weeks. Both parties expect to need a total of 10 days to present evidence and argue their case.

This is not the first case between record labels and an ISP to be tried this year. Charter Communications and Bright House were in the same position, but the two companies signed a settlement agreement instead.

Meanwhile, a group of independent filmmakers recently filed new piracy liability lawsuits against Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast so the US federal courts aren’t done with those repeat infringer lawsuits yet.

Copies of the record companies statement and voir dire questions are available here (1.2) and Grande’s versions can be found here (1.2)

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