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

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By Andy Malt | Published on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Warner Music

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

The lawsuit, filed in California federal courts, says the beauty brand’s posts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok used songs by Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and others without a license, according to Law360. The tracks in particular are soundtrack videos created in collaboration with influencers.

“Although Iconic’s social media commercials were instrumental in Iconic’s success, neither the defendants nor their influencer partners asked permission or paid for the privilege to use the audio recordings and musical compositions contained therein,” the statement said Warner’s lawsuit.

Supporting its decision to sue a British company in a US court, it adds that Iconic uses social media “to target its hurtful videos…to consumers in the United States.” In addition, the brand should know or “have reason to know that California is a world center for commercially recorded and licensed music,” so have no excuse for not licensing the music in their videos.

Describing the offending videos, the label says they generally “show people presenting or demonstrating one or more of Iconic’s cosmetics and skincare products” and that the music “usually plays.”[s] the full length of the … video”.

Iconic isn’t the first brand to be sued for unlicensed music in social media posts. Some brands have mistakenly assumed in the past that music in videos posted to Instagram or TikTok could be covered by those platforms’ own music licenses. However, the Instagram and TikTok licenses only ever cover user-generated content, not branded 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 won summary judgments in their favor regarding the unlicensed music in Bang’s own videos, although judgments on influencer-created content were less clear.

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