Sony Defends $1b Verdict Against Cox

On February 28, Sony Music Entertainment filed an opposition in response to Cox Communications, Inc.’s motion for either a remittitur or retrial in their ongoing piracy case. The jury found Cox guilty of copyright infringement on a massive scale and reached a $1 billion verdict, which is among the largest statutory copyright damages in history.

The verdict accounts for the 10,017 copyrighted works in the suit and awards them each $99,830.29. While Cox believes that the $1 billion award “is shockingly excessive and unlawfully punitive,” Sony argues, “the jury returned a verdict well within permissible statutory damages range set by Congress – roughly $500 million below the maximum permitted.” 

Sony accuses Cox of mass negligence in regard to infringement. “Cox’s conduct was not that of a single, rogue employee,” says the opposition. “It was endemic to the culture of a company that systematically helped infringers, openly mocked the copyright laws, and lied to copyright owners about its allegedly ‘gold standard’ policies.”

The verdict was justified, according to Sony, because, “the evidence overwhelmingly supports the jury’s award.” Several points of evidence are listed: P2P infringement was widespread on Cox’s network but they neglected to take it seriously; Cox claimed to enforce copyrights but did not follow through, and Cox cared more about profits than limiting infringement.

Cox is expected to file a response to Sony’s opposition by March 13. A motion hearing is also set for March 26 before Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District Court of Virginia.  Cox is represented by Winston & Strawn, while Sony and its co-plaintiffs are represented by Oppenheim & Zebrak.