Sony Music and Triller settle copyright dispute as TikTok rival prepares to go public

Credit: Solen Feyissa

Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and short-form video platform Triller have reached an agreement to conclude their legal battle concerning the unauthorized use of Sony‘s music on the platform.

In a joint statement submitted on Friday (August 11), Sony Music and Triller announced the termination of the copyright case with prejudice, effectively preventing any future re-filing of the case. The terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed.

The lawsuit, initiated by Sony Music against Triller last year, accused the Los Angeles-based company of both neglecting to fulfill payment obligations under a licensing contract and engaging in extensive copyright infringement by streaming Sony’s music without proper authorization following the contract’s breach.

Sony Music’s suit cited over 50 songs, including tracks by artists like Britney Spears, Harry Styles, and Janis Joplin, which were allegedly misused by Triller.

The litigation revolved around a content distribution agreement established in September 2016, in which SME granted Triller and its users the rights to reproduce, distribute, and create derivative works based on Sony’s sound recordings, artwork, and metadata.

The dispute escalated when Triller’s scheduled monthly payments, spanning from March to August 2022, were not honored. According to SME, Triller also owed payments for September, October, and November 2022.

Triller responded to the lawsuit in December, confirming that it had been unable to issue payments to SME due to a range of reasons.

In April, Triller settled a portion of the lawsuit by agreeing to pay Sony Music $4.57 million for alleged contract breaches. 

The conclusion of this legal battle marks an important development for Triller as it prepares to go public.

The company has recently revived its initial public offering plan, filing an S-1 on August 2 for its planned listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

In its IPO filing, Triller acknowledged that the company is “involved in lawsuits and other litigation matters that are expensive and time-consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our business, financial condition, or results of operations.”

In the same filing, Triller revealed that it entered into a confidential settlement agreement with SME and its affiliates, under which “the parties agreed that [Triller] would satisfy a judgment the plaintiffs had obtained against the company’s subsidiary Triller Platform Co.”

While the financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed in a court filing in Manhattan on Friday (August 11), Triller said in its IPO filing a week prior that: “Upon receipt of a specified amount of payment under the agreement, Sony and its affiliates will release [Triller] and its affiliates from all claims arising out of the action and the underlying Content Distribution Agreement, effective September 1, 2016.”

Triller is still facing another lawsuit filed by Universal Music Group (UMG) over unpaid licensing fees under their licensing agreement.

UMG sued Triller in January for allegedly failing to pay licensing fees for three straight quarters and for its failure to provide quarterly usage reports outlining the use of the major’s music on the Triller app.

Music Business Worldwide

Related Posts