Sony Wins More Than $800K After Suing Rapper Trefuego Over Viral TikTok Hit

A Texas judge ordered Trefuego to pay six figures in damages for an unauthorized sample on Wednesday (March 27). Judge Mark Pittman awarded $802,997 to Sony Music, which sued the 20-year-old rapper over his TikTok hit “90mh.”

Sony filed its lawsuit against Trefuego for sampling Japanese composer Toshifumi Hinata’s 1986 song “Reflections” without permission. The company informed Trefuego of his copyright infringement in 2021 but struggled to get him to respond to requests to take down the song, resulting in a court case.

Trefuego, whose real name is Dantreal Daevon Clark-Rainbolt, remained elusive once Sony sued him. Judge Pittman sided with Sony partly due to Trefuego making things difficult throughout the litigation process.

“In this case, Sony pursued a reasonable, non-frivolous claim to vindicate infringement of its copyrighted work,” Judge Pittman wrote. “Some may query the wisdom of pursuing a claim against a relatively small fish like Trefuego, but that fact does not render Sony’s motivation improper or their lawsuit unreasonable … In fact, the only unreasonable behavior in this case was Defendant’s, as his consistent attempts to evade service and eschew meaningful communications stymied case progress and drove up Sony’s costs.”

The judge added, “The Court hopes this serves as a lesson for Defendant and similarly situated litigants: the Court is sympathetic to Defendant’s willfulness arguments and could have appointed mediators and/or legal counsel to assist Defendant in raising this argument or otherwise pursuing an efficient resolution of Sony’s claim.”

Judge Pittman determined Sony was entitled to $700,497 in revenue generated from “90mh,” which went viral on TikTok. Trefuego was also on the hook for $102,500 in lost licensing fees owed to Sony.

“90mh” was removed from streaming services such as Spotify, but the song can be found on YouTube. One upload of the track has more than 5 million views on the platform.

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