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Sony says Triller has admitted it owes the major $4,574,250

By | Published on Friday 28 April 2023


Sony Music has told a US court that video-sharing app Triller has conceded that outstanding payments are due under its former licensing agreement with the major and that – as of 4 Apr – $4,574,250 is owed. To that end, Sony’s lawyers are requesting that the court issue a final judgement on the breach of contract element of the music firm’s legal battle with Triller, while a separate copyright infringement claim continues to go through the motions.

Triller was accused of both breach of contract and copyright infringement in the lawsuit Sony filed last August. The major said that Triller hadn’t made any payments due under its licensing deal since March 2022. As a result the deal had been terminated, but Sony controlled recordings continued to be available in Triller’s audio library and within videos streaming on its app. Which is where the copyright infringement claim came into play.

In a new filing with the court this week, Sony says: “Following Triller’s recent statement to Sony Music and the court that Triller ‘has conceded liability under the contract’, the parties entered a stipulation establishing Triller’s liability for breach of the agreement. Pursuant to the stipulation, Triller agreed that as of 4 Apr 2023, Triller is liable to Sony Music on Sony Music’s breach of contract claim for $4,574,250.00”.

While the copyright infringement element of Sony’s lawsuit is still ongoing, the music company argues that with Triller having admitted liability on the breach of contract point, the judge should now make a final partial judgement covering that claim.

It presents various arguments as to why such a final partial judgement on the breach of contract claim is justified, adding: “Delaying the inevitable execution of judgment on the contract claim would serve no valid purpose; on the contrary, it would undermine the principle of judicial efficiency. Triller’s liability on the contract claim is final with nothing left to resolve”.

It then adds that delaying judgement on the unpaid monies while the copyright dispute proceeds could impact on Sony’s ability to collect the amount owed.

“As the court is aware”, it says, “Triller has claimed an ‘inability to pay’. Prompt entry of judgment is needed to protect against any further dissipation of Triller’s assets or, worse still, a bankruptcy filing. Courts routinely recognise that if ‘a delay in entry of judgment’ would impair that party’s ‘ability to collect on the judgment, that would weigh in favour of certification'”.

“That risk here is palpable”, it reckons, before noting: “Though Triller concedes liability, it has not yet agreed to pay, so Sony Music needs the a final judgment to enforce”.

A number of Triller’s partnerships with the music industry started to untangle last year, resulting in music being removed from its in-app audio library as well as various statements to the effect that Triller no longer believed music was key to its user experience. The digital firm’s deal with indie label repping Merlin expired and, at the start of this year, Universal followed Sony’s lead in suing over unpaid royalties.