TV & Film Piracy

Distributor Sues RCN for Copyright Infringement Liability

Leading internet provider RCN faces another copyright infringement legal challenge as Screen Media Ventures, a major independent distributor of movies and TV series, alleges the ISP’s liability for subscribers’ widespread piracy, as they download and share hundreds of films. Despite Screen Media Ventures’ initial attempt to join a related lawsuit, a federal court’s denial prompted the distributor to file a separate case, escalating the legal battle.

Under U.S. copyright regulations, ISPs must take action against repeat copyright infringers. Recent federal court rulings have clarified this requirement. Past cases involving Cox and Grande Communications, slapped with hefty multimillion-dollar damages, set legal precedents even as they undergo appeal, spurring a surge of similar filings across the U.S. legal landscape.

RCN Faces Copyright Infringement Lawsuits from a Myriad of Plaintiffs

RCN, known for its Astound brand, has frequently found itself in the crosshairs of such legal tussles. Initially suing music rights group BMG in 2016 (culminating in a settlement), the ISP subsequently faced lawsuits from record labels and, later, film companies.

The ongoing lawsuit from movie companies, including creators of films like London Has Fallen, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, and Hellboy, sought expansion. An amended complaint proposed incorporating 14 new plaintiffs and 343 additional works. However, RCN contested this move, arguing against the undue burden of managing such a massive influx of new claims.

In a recent development, New Jersey Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni ruled to permit some new parties but rejected the inclusion of Screen Media Ventures, citing potential prejudice against RCN due to the significant expansion the inclusion would entail.

Screen Media Ventures Files New Copyright Lawsuit

Disagreeing with this decision, Screen Media Ventures voiced objection, emphasizing that consolidating all issues within one case could streamline proceedings and ultimately save resources compared to multiple lawsuits. Consequently, the distributor proceeded to file a new case mirroring its previous attempt to join, listing all 324 works in contention.

Screen Media Ventures’ new complaint underscores the substantial financial investment, time, and effort put into marketing its movies, disrupted by rampant online piracy facilitated by ISPs’ alleged inaction despite prior notices.

IPs Responsible for Users’ Copyright Infringement and Piracy

The lawsuit seeks significant statutory damages for copyright infringement, potentially soaring into millions of dollars. Additionally, it requests an injunction compelling RCN to terminate accounts of subscribers receiving more than three copyright infringement notices in 72 hours and block access to identified pirate sites, such as The Pirate Bay and 1337x, as designated by the US Trade Representative.

While the outcome of this parallel case remains uncertain, its filing sends a clear message that denying Screen Media Ventures’ inclusion won’t necessarily curtail the legal complexities faced by RCN in addressing alleged copyright infringement by its subscribers.

TorrentFreak – Ernesto Van der Sar – January 2, 2024

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