On December 19, 2019, a jury from the U.S. District Court in Virginia found that Cox Communications, an internet service provider (ISP), was fined $1 billion in a piracy lawsuit. It was alleged that Cox Communications “deliberately refused to take reasonable measures” in regards to copyright infringers after Cox Communications became aware of infringement by its customers. Because there was no action taken, Cox Communications was found to be contributorily infringing, and vicariously liable for the infringing acts.
Contributory infringement can be found when one (1) has knowledge of another’s infringement and (2) either (a) materially contributes to or (b) induces that infringement. The Court also noted that contributory liability can be based on willful blindness. The plaintiffs had hired MarkMonitor to gather data on the infringing activity, and the data gathered by MarkMonitor included information such as the timestamp of the infringement detection, the date the notice was sent, the user (identified by IP Address and Port), and more. Based on the level of detail of the reports, the fact that reports were sent to Cox Communications, and they did not do anything to stop the infringing acts, the jury was able to fine Cox Communications for their willful blindness.
10,017 works were infringed. Each work infringed was a fine for $99,830.29 for a total of $1 billion.