Fourth Circuit to Weigh ISP Copyright Liability for Peer-to-Peer File Sharing by Subscribers

The Intellectual Property Strategist

June 2017

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is gearing up to hear argument in BMG Rights Management v. Cox Communications, one of the first attempts by the music industry to hold an Internet Service Provider (ISP) liable for unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing by its subscribers. The Fourth Circuit will be asked to decide two crucial questions of copyright law: 1) what kind of repeat infringer policy must a service provider implement to qualify for the safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA;; and 2) can an ISP be held contributorily liable for its subscribers’ actions, notwithstanding that its service — providing access to the Internet — is capable of substantial non-infringing uses.

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