Record Label’s Suit Against Charter Survives Motion to Dismiss

An order denying a motion for dismissal was filed April 15 in an ongoing copyright infringement case between Warner Records, Inc. and Charter Communications, Inc. The plaintiffs allege that Charter ignored rampant peer-to-peer file-sharing of copyrighted music through its service. Written by Judge R. Brooke Jackson, the order adopts Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty’s recommendation to continue the case.

Warner’s initial complaint against Charter was filed on March 22, 2019, claiming that the internet service provider “knowingly contributed to, and reaped substantial profits from, massive copyright infringement committed by thousands of its subscribers.” The suit was filed on behalf of Warner and similarly situated record labels, including Universal Music Corp., Sony Music Entertainment, and Atlantic Records.

The newly published order denies Charter’s May 2019 motion for dismissal. Judge Jackson concludes that although copyright infringement is against Charter’s terms of service, the company “has failed to address the repeated infringement that occurs over its network because it derives significant income from subscription fees…” Jackson also believes that Charter would rather not spend its resources responding to infringement notices, because doing so would deter potential customers.

Judge Jackson ultimately agrees with Magistrate Judge Hegarty’s recommendation to proceed with the case, saying, “Because plaintiffs have stated a claim for vicarious copyright infringement, [the] defendant’s motion to dismiss must be denied.”

The case is similar to one between Sony and Cox Communications, which deals with another internet service provider’s negligent allowance of copyright infringement at a large scale.