Triller Sued by Sony Music for Copyright Infringement and Breach of Contract

Sony Music Entertainment sued Triller, Inc. in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, on Monday, August 29, 2022, alleging that Triller failed to pay licensing fees and permitted the unauthorized use of Sony’s copyrighted music in the Triller app.

Triller develops, distributes, and operates a “social media and music discovery experience” website and app. Users can search for and select a sound recording from Triller’s audio library to use in videos. Users then post videos to the app, where other users can stream or download the videos. The Triller app has more than 350 million downloads worldwide.

Triller and Sony Music entered into a content distribution agreement on September 1, 2016. Sony Music permitted Triller to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, create derivative works, display, and otherwise exploit “Sony Music sound recordings, artwork, sound recording clips, user-created clips, and metadata” in exchange for a licensing fee and other consideration. The complaint alleges that Triller “historically failed to make payments in a timely manner under the Agreement.” However, in March 2022, “Triller failed to make any monthly payments required under the Agreement, totaling millions of dollars,” which constitutes a breach of the content distribution agreement. Sony Music informed Triller on July 22, 2022 that Triller was in material breach of the agreement after months of silence in response to Sony’s request for payment. Sony Music then terminated the agreement on August 8, 2022, and informed Triller that continued use of Sony Music’s copyrighted work “would constitute willful copyright infringement.”

The complaint alleges that “Triller has continued to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, create derivative works, and otherwise exploit the valuable Sony Music Content in connection with the Triller App,” and that “these actions constitute willful copyright infringement.” The complaint claims causes of action for breach of contract and copyright infringement in violation of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501. The complaint requests relief in the form of declaratory judgments, compensatory, actual, special, and liquidated damages, an order enjoining Triller from further infringement of Sony Music’s copyrights, an order requiring Triller to “immediately destroy, delete or return all Sony Music Content,” statutory damages, and costs and disbursements.

Additional Reading

Sony Music Sues Triller, Alleging Copyright Infringement and Breach of Contract, Variety (August 30, 2022)

Sony Music Entertainment et al v. Triller, Inc. (Case No. 1:2022cv07380)

Complaint in Sony Music Entertainment et al v. Triller, Inc.

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