Sony Music v. Marriott: Copyright Infringement and Social Media Marketing

Sony Music

On May 17, 2024, Sony Music sued Marriott hotels for copyright infringement. Sony claimed it identified 931 infringements of its sound recordings in social media posts managed or franchised by Marriott and from influencers paid by Marriott. The large number of infringements could expose Marriott to statutory damages of up to $140 million. 

What is a copyright and what is copyright infringement? 

A copyright is a form of protection for original works created by human authors. This can include music, books, photos, and software, among other works. Creators should register their copyrights with the copyright office to enhance protections over their work. Registering copyrights helps to facilitate the licensing process, in which copyright owners sell the right to others to use the work. Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses a copyrighted work without permission or a license. The owner of a copyright can sue infringers for damages for use of the unauthorized use of its copyright. In order to succeed on a claim for copyright infringement, the owner must prove that they own the copyright, that the defendant willfully infringed on the copyright, and that they sought private or financial gain by using the copyrighted work.

What are Sony’s accusations? 

Sony accused Marriott in its complaint of using some of Sony’s most popular songs to increase engagement on social media posts. For example, Marriott used Beyonce’s song, “Texas Hold ‘Em” just days after the song hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Popular songs help to increase views on social media posts and increase engagement. Sony is seeking damages from Marriott for the use of their copyrights, costs at trial, and attorneys fees for the suit. 

How does this suit affect the industry? 

Copyright infringement is becoming a larger issue as more brands and companies are using  social media and influencer marketing. Social media platforms such as tiktok and instagram provide sound libraries in which creators have the ability to use certain sounds and songs without risking infringement. However, these rules are stricter when creators are using songs for profit or in commerce, such as promotional posts for brands. Companies using songs in their social media marketing campaigns must acquire licenses and permissions from the owners of the works. 

Sony’s suit against Marriott is just one of many lawsuits it has filed against companies infringing on its works. In 2021, Sony sued fitness brand Gymshark for copyright infringement in its marketing campaigns. More recently, Sony sent demand letters to over 700 Artificial Intelligence firms requesting to opt out of AI use of Sony’s copyrighted music. 

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Founding partner Eric Gros-Dubois established EPGD Business Law in 2013. With over a decade of experience expanding the firm and leading it to its current success, Eric now primarily manages the corporate division of EPGD. Given Eric’s educational background, holding both a JD and MBA, combined with his own unique experience of starting a business from scratch and growing it to a multi-million dollar firm, he brings a specialized and invaluable perspective to those seeking legal assistance for themselves and their businesses. Having now instilled his same values in our team of skilled corporate associates, Eric leads a firm that is always ready, willing, and equipped to handle any and every legal matter that a business owner may have.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.



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