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Warner sues make up brand Iconic over unlicensed music in social media videos

By | Published on Tuesday 29 November 2022

Warner Music

British make up company Iconic is the latest brand to be sued over its use of unlicensed music in its social media marketing. In a new lawsuit, Warner Music says that the company has used over 165 of its “most popular and valuable works” without permission.

Filed through the the Californian federal courts, the legal claim says that the beauty brand’s posts on platforms including Instagram and TikTok used songs by Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and more without licence, according to Law360. In particular, the tracks soundtracked videos created in partnership with influencers.

“While Iconic’s social media ‘commercials’ have been instrumental to Iconic’s success, neither defendants nor their influencer partners have sought permission or paid for the privilege to use the sound recordings and musical compositions that are featured in them”, says Warner’s lawsuit.

Justifying its decision to sue a British company in an America court, it adds that Iconic uses social media “to direct its infringing videos … to consumers located in the United States”. What’s more, the brand should know or have “reason to know that California is a worldwide centre of commercially recorded and licensed music”, so has no excuse for not licensing the music in its videos.

Describing the offending videos, the label says that they generally feature “individuals showcasing or demonstrating one or more of Iconic’s cosmetics and skincare products” and that the music “typically run[s] the full length of the … video”.

Iconic is not the first brand to be sued over unlicensed music in social media posts. Some brands have, in the past, incorrectly assumed that music in videos posted to Instagram or TikTok might be covered by those platforms’ own music licences. However, the Instagram and TikTok licences only ever cover user-generated content, not brand-made videos.

Energy drink company Bang has now been sued by all three major labels over its online videos, including its collaborations with influencers. Both Universal and Sony have won summary judgements in their favour regarding the unlicensed music in Bang’s own videos, although the rulings on influencer-made content were less clear cut.