Short video sharing platform Triller was sued earlier this week by music publisher Wixen Music Publishing in the Central District of California for allegedly providing the plaintiff’s copyrighted musical works in its music library on its app for users to use in their videos.
Wixen Music Publishing averred that Triller, which has been downloaded more than 120 million times, willfully infringed the copyrighted musical compositions of the plaintiff, which “administers more than 50,000 songs written and/or owned by its more than 2,000 clients.” Wixen noted that it licenses its clients’ copyrighted compositions in order to maintain their integrity, such as by issuing synchronization licenses to other entities and collecting royalties. Triller allows users to add music to the short videos they create and share. According to the plaintiff, however, “Triller has, without authorization or compensation, reproduced and made the Works available the App to its App users, resulting in thousands of audiovisual works incorporating, without authorization or compensation, the Works.”
The complaint explained that a user can select background music from the library, edit background music to select the portion of a song to use in the video, and record and edit their video and share it with others. The plaintiff said Triller also allows for collaborative editing and allows users to find trending videos and search for and listen to different songs.
Wixen contended that many Triller videos incorporate its works and other musical compositions for which Triller has not obtained a license to include in its music library, as such, the owners of these copyrighted musical works are not compensated. Furthermore, Wixen proffered that “Specifically, Triller is making the Works available to users, including by cataloging them; promoting them, including via Triller-curate playlists; and reproducing and making the Works available through its music library.”
Wixen noted that for Triller to legally reproduce and distribute the works, it was required to obtain a license and that it was aware of this. Wixen pointed out that the “CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), a trade group to which Wixen belongs, criticized Triller for not fully licensing NMPA members’ songs, stating that ‘Triller’s popularity is largely based on music. It boasts ‘millions of songs at your fingertips,’ however many of those songs have not been properly licensed.’” Wixen claimed that Triller’s CEO acknowledged the NMPA’s comments and expressed his intent to work with the publishers, however, Wixen averred that this has yet to happen months later.
Additionally, the plaintiff stated that it reached out to Triller to inform the defendant that it had not obtained a proper license for its Works, but no agreement of license has come to fruition after that notification. Instead, according to Wixen, “Triller told Wixen that it could locate fewer than five Videos containing the Works. In addition, Triller repeatedly advised Wixen that it would remove Works from the app, but repeatedly failed to do so.” Therefore, Wixen proffered that Triller has continued to infringe these copyrighted musical works. Moreover, according to the complaint, with the at least $100 million in funding that Triller secured based on a $1.25 billion valuation, Triller has allegedly chosen to pay social influencers, instead of Wixen and the artists it represents for their Works. Consequently, Wixen claimed it had been harmed by Triller’s conduct.
The claims for relief include direct copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement. Wixen has sought an award for damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, an award for costs and fees, and pre- and post-judgment interest.
Wixen Music Publishing is represented by Donahue Fitzgerald LLP.