Sony awarded more than $800k over TikTok copyright infringement

Music

A popular TikToker was sued by Sony Music and now has to pay over $800,000 in damages for using a copyrighted sample without permission.

Back in 2022, Arizona-based artist Trefuego – real name Dantreal Daevon Clark-Rainbolt –was issued a strict copyright takedown notice for his track ‘90mh’ by the music industry giant. Sony then filed a lawsuit against Trefurego, citing the “flagrant and deliberate infringement” of Japanese composer Toshifumi Hinata’s (Hinata) 1986 song ‘Reflections’.

According to the suit, “Trefuego… simply stole Hinata’s musical composition and sound recording, using them without asking and without permission, all in flagrant violation of the United States Copyright Laws.

“Trefuego’s infringing conduct has and continues to severely damage and diminish the market for Hinata’s works by falsely inferring that he endorses and/or supports Trefuego’s use of ‘Reflections’ in ‘90mh’.”

Sony claimed that the track had been featured in 155,000 TikTok videos and streamed 100 million times on Spotify (per Billboard).

A federal judge ruled that the 20-year-old TikToker did infringe Sony’s copyrights. In a Follow-up ruling last month, Trefuego was ordered to pay $802,997 (£636,000) – equivalent to around $700,000 (£554,000) in profits from streaming platforms, and $100,000 (£79,000) in Sony’s licensing fees.

District Judge Mark T. Pittman wrote: “The court hopes this case will serve as a $802,997.23 lesson for defendant in carefully selecting the materials included in his raps,” in his decision.

Pittman also ordered Trefuego to pay ongoing royalties, including a 50% cut of publishing revenue and a 20% cut of recording revenue, and to repay $2,230 in legal costs incurred by Sony.

Neither Trefuego or Sony have responded to requests for comments.

In other news, City Girls’ JT has urged fans to use unofficial versions of her upcoming solo single on TikTok despite Universal Music Group (UMG)‘s banning their music from the platform.



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