Triller Formally Responds to Sony Music Copyright Lawsuit, Admits ‘It Has Been Unable to Make Payments’

Triller SoundCloud
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Triller SoundCloud
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Photo Credit: Triller

In August, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) sued Triller for allegedly failing to pay millions in owed licensing fees. Now, the short-form video-sharing app has officially responded to the complaint.

Triller just recently submitted its answer to the multimillion-dollar suit from Sony Music, which has alleged a “failure and refusal to pay millions of dollars in contractual licensing fees” on the part of the TikTok rival.

The major label specifically claimed that “Triller had historically failed to make payments in a timely manner” over the course of their six-year professional relationship, before these purported failures to pay “escalated” in the leadup to the action this year.

“During the exact same months that Triller was failing to make licensing payments to Sony Music, it went on a purchasing spree,” reads one section of SME’s Triller suit, which proceeds to highlight a number of the acquisitions that the company finalized during the period in question.

Worth mentioning is that the catalogs of the other major labels (Warner Music and Universal Music) as well as Merlin were earlier this month removed from Triller. In a multifaceted explanation of the takedowns, Triller (which encountered a separate licensing impasse with UMG in 2021) communicated that it was “assessing a ‘Spotify like model’, which would include a revenue share versus large cash payments,” as it prepared to try and negotiate more viable licensing deals.

Back to its legal showdown with Sony Music, however, Triller refuted several of the Big Three label’s arguments in the aforesaid answer.

Notwithstanding these denials, the defendant entity did confirm “that it has been unable to make payments…under the 2022 Amendment for a variety of reasons.” Specifically, the service “has not made payments to” Sony Music “since March of 2022,” the document shows.

Bearing in mind these missing fees, Triller also expressly acknowledged that it owes SME “for outstanding payments under the” licensing deal. But Triller denied the plaintiff’s requested relief, which includes “compensatory, actual, special, and liquidated damages for breach of the Agreement in an amount to be proven at trial.”

September saw Triller settle a $28 million missing-payment lawsuit filed by Verzuz creators Timbaland and Swizz Beatz – besides being named in a different missing-payment complaint yet, this time from an app-services partner, and announcing an over $300 million equity raise ahead of a long-planned IPO.

Meanwhile, the platform’s foremost competitor, TikTok, is likewise grappling with operational difficulties, albeit in the form of state-government bans attributable to user-data concerns as well as lawsuits involving alleged violations of consumer-protection laws.