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Sony Slams Marriott Hotels With $140M Suit Over Beyoncé, Bad Bunny TikTok, IG Copyright Claims

Sony Music Entertainment has filed a lawsuit against Marriott International, one of the world’s largest hotel companies, accusing it of willful copyright infringement through the unauthorized use of music in social media posts. The complaint, filed on May 17 in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, alleges that Marriott infringed on 931 of Sony’s sound recordings across multiple artist catalogs.

As Music Business Worldwide reports, the alleged infringements include social media posts made by Marriott-owned, managed, or franchised hotels and posts from influencers paid by Marriott. The infringing content includes works by Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, and Doja Cat, among others. Rimas Entertainment, the label home of Bad Bunny, is also listed as a plaintiff.

According to the complaint, the identified videos are likely “only the tip of the iceberg,” suggesting more infringements could surface during the discovery process. Under U.S. copyright law, the 931 alleged infringements could potentially expose Marriott to statutory damages of up to nearly $140 million.

Sony Music alleges that Marriott strategically used popular songs to boost the visibility of its promotional social media posts on algorithm-driven platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The complaint reads that Marriott was “well aware” of the impact music has on post visibility and engagement.

The lawsuit claims Marriott “exploits recordings repeatedly when they are at the top of the charts or trending online,” citing a video using Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” shortly after its chart-topping debut.

Sony Music first notified Marriott of alleged infringements in January 2020 and has sent multiple notices since, including as recently as March 2024. The complaint asserts that Marriott initially entered into tolling agreements but later refused to extend or renew them.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial, as well as costs and attorneys’ fees. It is part of Sony Music Entertainment’s broader effort to combat unauthorized use of its intellectual property, including recent lawsuits against apparel brand Gymshark and cosmetics company OFRA over similar allegations.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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