Triller Confirms Sony Music Copyright Infringement Suit Settlement — Universal Music Litigation Continues

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Back in April, a court ordered Triller to pay Sony Music Entertainment (SME) about $4.6 million over the allegedly unauthorized use of the major label’s music. Now, as it continues to push for a long-planned arrival on the public market, the TikTok competitor has revealed that the infringement battle concluded with a “confidential settlement agreement” late last month.

These newest details about the Sony Music-Triller showdown came to light in the latter company’s just-filed prospectus. The Verzuz owner Triller has for years been plotting to list its shares publicly, and as DMN was first to report yesterday, the company is now plowing ahead with a direct listing.

For background, SME in August of 2022 filed a straightforward copyright infringement complaint against Triller, alleging a “failure and refusal to pay millions of dollars in contractual licensing fees.” December then saw the short-form app remove music from the major labels as well as Merlin, before Universal Music Group in early 2023 sued Triller for allegedly missing payments.

While the Universal Music litigation is ongoing – “we are currently involved in litigation regarding payment of fees with Universal Music Publishing Group,” Triller wrote – the Julius parent put the SME courtroom confrontation in the rearview towards July’s conclusion, the prospectus shows.

Specifically, SME and Triller “entered into a Confidential Settlement Agreement dated July 21, 2023 to resolve Plaintiffs’ remaining claims and provide for an agreed plan for payment of the judgment,” per the document. Though the judgement refers to the $4.57 million mentioned above, Triller also “agreed to pay an additional sum of money” to the major label, the text indicates.

Moreover, Triller “will be obligated to pay” SME as part of the settlement within 15 days of its direct listing, the document shows. Bigger picture, the infringement-cautious Triller emphasized in the prospectus that it, despite expending “significant resources to seek to comply with applicable” frameworks, “cannot guarantee that we currently hold, or will always hold, every necessary right to use all of the music that is used on our service.”

Taking things a step further for good measure, Triller – which disclosed $9.15 million in Q1 revenue and a $28.77 million net loss – further relayed that it “cannot be certain that our use of third-party images, names, content and studies included in this prospectus will not result in claims for infringement or misappropriation of third-party intellectual property.”

“While we believe we have amicable relationships with the persons named in this prospectus, we have not sought the consent or permission of certain of these third parties to use or reference their name, image or likeness nor sought consent to cite the third party studies referenced in this prospectus,” Triller wrote of the document, which features a section about Charli D’Amelio’s purported use of the Cliqz text-messaging service.

Elsewhere in the voluminous prospectus, Triller highlighted the massive sum put up to settle the suit brought by Verzuz co-founders Timbaland and Swizz Beatz last year ($37 million in “unsecured Convertible Promissory notes”) and identified a “total purchase consideration” of $86.69 million for the overarching buyout.