Stein Mitchell wins $46.8 million willful copyright infringement jury verdict for Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group against ISP Grande Communications


Washington, D.C., Nov. 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Stein Mitchell is very pleased to announce that a federal jury in Austin, Texas, has handed down a $46.8 million willful copyright infringement verdict against internet service provider Grande Communications on behalf of Stein Mitchell clients Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.

Stein Mitchell filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, who comprise the three major record labels, in April 2017. The verdict was reached on November 3, 2022, and the case was tried along with co-counsel Jenner & Block and Scott Douglass McConnico.

The record labels asserted that Grande was liable for contributory copyright infringement by providing internet service to known repeat infringing subscribers, ignoring for seven years over one million notices of copyright infringement, and never terminating or otherwise taking action against any repeat infringers, even where Grande had received hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of notices about specific customers.

Over more than five hard-fought years, Stein Mitchell defeated Grande’s motion to dismiss the contributory infringement claim; conducted extensive document discovery involving over one million documents produced; took and defended 40 depositions; defeated Grande’s motion for summary judgment and Daubert motions; and secured summary judgment against Grande’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) alleged “safe harbor” defense. Several of the Court’s pretrial rulings have been cited as precedent in subsequent cases.

After a nearly month-long trial, the jury found that Grande was contributorily liable for infringing 1,403 of the record labels’ copyrighted sound recordings. The jury further found that Grande had acted willfully and therefore was liable for heightened statutory damages under the Copyright Act, awarding the plaintiffs $33,333.33 per each of the infringed recordings, for a total of $46,766,200.

In announcing the victory, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) CEO Mitch Glazier stated: This is the latest validation by U.S. courts and juries that unchecked online infringement will not stand. The jury’s strong action here sends an important message to Internet Service Providers. Artists, songwriters, rightsholders, fans and legitimate services all depend upon a healthy digital music ecosystem that effectively protects creative works online.

The case is UMG Recordings, Inc., et al. v. Grande Communications Networks, LLC, No. 17-cv-365-DAE, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Stein Mitchell’s trial team was led by Robert Gilmore, Philip O’Beirne, and Kevin Attridge. Stein Mitchell Managing Partner Jonathan Missner played a significant role throughout the case, as did Michael Petrino. Jacqueline Lau, Andrew Lee, Jonathan Zischkau, and Cesar Gonzales contributed to the effort as well.

Additional information about the case will be made available on Stein Mitchell’s website.


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