Sony Music sues Triller over copyright infringement after missing payments

Sony Music filed a lawsuit against TikTok-competitor Triller for copyright infringement, Variety reports. This lawsuit is the latest event following a troubling pattern of alleged missing payments for the app, which plans to go public even though its $5 billion SPAC deal fell through.

Last year, the company announced a $14 million program that would give 300 Black creators $4,000 per month in cash and equity for posting on Triller. But according to The Washington Post, many creators did not receive these payments, or received very delayed, erratic payments. Soon after the report, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz sued Triller for $28 million, alleging that Triller missed payments related to the app's acquisition of Verzuz, the livestreamed music series the two artists created.

Now, Sony Music says that it faced similar problems with the social media platform. According to the company, Triller "historically failed to make payments in a timely manner," but the situation became worse when Triller stopped making any payments in March. When Sony Music requested this outstanding payment, Triller offered "near-total radio silence in response," per Variety. In response, Sony Music terminated its agreement with Triller earlier this month, but the copyrighted music remained on the platform, leading to the music giant's infringement claim against the app.

"Triller has broad relationships with music labels and publishers around the world," Triller told TechCrunch in a statement. "We were surprised with this filing and believe it might be related to the Verzuz dispute. We are confident that these issues can be resolved quickly. The case is about less than 100 songs which were user uploaded and we honor takedown requests as required by the DMCA within 24 hours."

Triller also faced issues last year with Universal Music Group, which removed its music from the app after alleging that Triller withheld payments. Triller CEO Mike Lu denied these claims at the time, describing the incident as "a bad 'Punk'd' episode."

Just yesterday, Triller announced that it had raised "substantial" debt and equity financing to prepare to go public in early Q4. Triller declined to share the amount raised and the debt and equity percentages of the funding round.

Update, 8/30/22, 1:00 PM ET with comment from Triller.