Sony Music sues cosmetics brand OFRA for using recordings by Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and other artists in social media ads without permission

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Amongst the tracks named by Sony Music to have allegedly been infringed are megahits like Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You, Britney Spears' Oops!…I Did It Again, and Beyonce feat. Jay-Z's Crazy In Love.

Sony Music Entertainment has filed a lawsuit against US cosmetics brand OFRA for allegedly using its music in Instagram and TikTok ads without permission.

According to the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday (October 31), and obtained by MBW, “OFRA Cosmetics’ popularity has been driven by its use of social media” and the company has become one of the most “successful and influential beauty brands on social media, amassing over 1.7 million followers on Instagram alone”.

The lawsuit claims, however, that “OFRA Cosmetics has achieved its success through blatant, willful, and repeated copyright infringement of the sound recordings and musical compositions of various content owners”, including “hundreds” of Sony Music’s sound recordings.

At the heart of the lawsuit, filed in a Florida court on Tuesday, and which you can read in full here, is that OFRA Cosmetics’ social media pages are “populated with videos showcasing the company’s products”, with those videos allegedly containing unlicensed music.

Sony Music claims in its lawsuit that the “problem with OFRA Cosmetics’ approach” is that it “regularly exploits (or materially contributes to the exploitation of) videos that contain unlicensed sound recordings and musical compositions owned by record and music publishing companies”.

Also named as plaintiffs are Sony Music Entertainment US Latin, Ultra Records, Laface Records, Arista Music; Arista Records, Records Label, and  Zomba.

The complaint states that “at least 329 videos” feature Sony Music’s sound recordings.

Amongst those recordings listed in the Exhibit A attachment filed along with the lawsuit on Tuesday are megahits like Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, Britney Spears’ Oops!…I Did It Again, Beyonce feat. Jay-Z’s Crazy In Love and Harry Styles’ As It Was.

Sony says that “upon information and belief, there are many additional infringing videos for which OFRA Cosmetics is responsible that Sony Music has yet to identify”.

The suit explains that “upon information and belief” OFRA Cosmetics created some of the videos itself, and then posted them to its own social media pages as advertisements.

Other videos that contain allegedly infringing music were created by “so-called influencers”, occasionally via formal partnerships with OFRA. According to the suit, those influencers then promote the company’s products to their own social media followers in return for either “free product[s], a cash payment, or a share in OFRA Cosmetics’ sales”.

The suit alleges that OFRA then copies many of these influencer-created videos to its own websites and social media pages to advertise its products.

“OFRA Cosmetics has achieved its success through blatant, willful, and repeated copyright infringement of the sound recordings and musical compositions of various content owners”

Sony Music Entertainment lawsuit

Sony Music claims in its lawsuit that the cosmetics firm’s marketing strategy has focused on using such videos to promote its products for a number of years and that it has “exploited a huge number of sound recordings owned and/or controlled by Sony Music as well as sound recordings and/or musical compositions owned by other record labels and music publishers”.

Sony Music claims that it informed OFRA of the company’s alleged infringing use of SME’s copyrighted material in a letter sent to OFRA Cosmetics on September 12, 2022.

OFRA, according to Sony Music, has “refused to meaningfully engage in any discussions with Sony Music regarding the infringing conduct”.

The complaint adds: “Defendants’ conduct has caused and continues to cause substantial and irreparable harm to Sony Music, while enriching OFRA Cosmetics at Sony Music’s (and its artists’) expense.

“This action seeks to hold the Defendants responsible for their substantial willful (a) direct copyright infringement of the Sony Recordings, including the Defendants’ unauthorized copying, public performance, digital transmission, distribution, and creation of derivative works, and (b) contributory and/or vicarious copyright infringement owing to the unauthorized use of the Sony Recordings by various third parties discovered to date.

“OFRA Cosmetics’ infringement was and is willful. Not only has OFRA Cosmetics failed to take down infringing content after Sony Music’s demand, it has also re-posted new infringing content, long after learning of Sony’s claims.”

This is not the first time in recent years that Sony Music has launched legal proceedings against a consumer brand for copyright infringement of its music in social media posts.

In July 2021, SME filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against UK-born fitness apparel brand Gymshark.

The fitness firm, founded by Ben Francis in 2012, was valued at approximately $1.3 billioin in August 2020 after selling a 21% stake to US-based General Atlantic. Gymshark is currently expanding into the US.

Sony’s copyright fight with Gymshark ended in January 2022.Music Business Worldwide

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