Triller Sued By Universal Music Group for Alleged Unpaid Licensing – Rolling Stone
Triller, the short-video social media app, is facing another lawsuit from a major music publisher claiming it fails to pay licensing fees outlined in its contracts.
Universal Music Publishing sued Triller in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, alleging Triller “repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises” to meet the terms of its agreements.
The new complaint comes after Sony Music Entertainment sued Triller with similar claims in August, saying the company allowed its users to create content with music from Sony artists while failing to pay millions of dollars in contractual licensing fees.
According to the new lawsuit, Triller, which claims to have 65 million active users, signed a framework agreement with Universal in December 2020 in which it agreed to pay “sync license fees” for the placement of Universal songs in Triller videos. Triller agreed to pay a non-refundable minimum guarantee of $1 million in quarterly installments but failed to meet payment deadlines in April, July and September of last year, the lawsuit states.
Triller also signed a Music App agreement in which it agreed to pay a licensing fee of $2.2 million and “past use fee” of $724,000 for prior use of Universal music, the lawsuit states. Under the deal, Triller was required to provide quarterly usage reports detailing user activity on the Triller app so Universal could pay royalties to its musicians, the paperwork says.
“Despite its contractual obligations, Triller has failed to pay plaintiff the fifth, sixth, and sevenths quarterly installments of the licensing fees,” the filing alleges, adding that Triller also failed to provide the quarterly usage reports.
“Although Triller has made several written and oral promises to deliver the outstanding payments and provide the required usage reports, it has repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises,” the new lawsuit says.
“During the same period that Triller was defaulting on its payment and reporting obligations, it was reported that Triller was spending substantial amounts of money acquiring companies, including Julius and Fangage, and throwing lavish events catering to members of the media and entertainment industry,” the paperwork states.
Universal says it informed Triller on Jan. 3 that it was terminating its contracts with the platform and that “any continued use of plaintiff’s compositions would constitute willful and intentional infringement of plaintiff’s copyrights.”
Triller downplayed the lawsuit in a statement. “This is nothing more than a minor contractual dispute with a publisher, not the label, and has no impact whatsoever on triller or its business,” the company said in a statement first shared with Variety.
“This is a dispute about publishing for a very small percentage of the catalogue, and is the ordinary course of business for the music industry and over a small amount of money,” it continued. “This will be decided upon in a proper venue in a few years, and we clearly believe we are in the right and that a court will find in our favor. It’s a plain vanilla case that virtually every social network has faced in one form or another. It’s not the first and won’t be the last, but similar to the past disputes of these nature, they tend to settle quietly and end up being a lot to do about nothing .”