Wixen Music Publishing has filed a $50 million copyright infringement lawsuit against short-form video-sharing app – and quick-rising TikTok competitor – Triller.
Wixen Music Publishing, which named Spotify in a $1.6 billion infringement suit just before the deadline outlined in the Music Modernization Act (MMA), recently submitted the Triller complaint to a California federal court. Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing, which calls for Wixen to receive the maximum damages of $150,000 per infringed work – or a minimum of $50.4 million, not including legal fees.
Significantly, Wixen notes towards the beginning of the complaint that it “believes the actual number of infringed” works is “well over one thousand.” The list of allegedly infringed songs – and, in turn, the total damages sought – will be updated moving forward.
Plus, the firmly worded legal text emphasizes that Wixen will also add to the complaint the names of Triller execs who “have the right and ability to supervise or control the infringing activity” and received “a direct financial benefit from that activity.”
42-year-old Wixen’s copyright infringement claims appear relatively straightforward. Triller allows its users to equip their videos with tracks that “have not been licensed and for which copyright owners are not compensated,” according to the 15-page-long document. Upon informing Triller of the alleged copyright infringement in August, Wixen says that execs pinpointed “fewer than five Videos containing the Works,” promised to remove them, and then “repeatedly failed to do so.”
“Triller could have reached out and negotiated with Wixen to obtain the necessary licenses, as its CEO promised. Instead, it chose to brazenly disregard copyright law and commit willful and ongoing copyright infringement,” the document relays.
“Rather than pay Wixen and the songwriters Wixen represents…Triller pays ‘social influencers’ substantial sums of money and provides them with Rolls Royces, mansions (with housekeeping), weekly sushi dinners at Nobu, and, in at least one instance, a helicopter,” proceeds the Calabasas, California-headquartered music publisher’s complaint.
Triller CEO Mike Lu – who issued a prompt response to TikTok’s lawsuit against his company last month – characterized Wixen’s suit as a collection of “extortionist demands” in a statement and said that he’s looking forward to Triller’s day in court.
Following the Indian government’s ban of TikTok, as well as the U.S. government’s move to compel a sale, Triller has experienced a material popularity and usage uptick. Moreover, the five-year-old app has inked licensing deals with a bevy of collecting societies and indie publishers, solidified its content-delivery infrastructure, and, filling the gap left by TikTok in India, finalized a massive agreement with JioSaavn.
As a final aside, Triller reportedly paid $50 million (ironically enough, the same amount of damages sought by Wixen) for the exclusive streaming rights to Mike Tyson’s upcoming exhibition bout against Roy Jones Jr. In a notable contrast to most other high-profile boxing matches, DaBaby, Lil Wayne, French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, and YG are set to deliver “multi-song performances” at the November 28th pay-per-view event.