Cinq Sues Create Music Group for ‘Falsely Claiming’ Copyright Infringement
Label and distributor alleges that Create Music Group is preventing it from monetizing Swell's "I'm Sorry."
Record label and distributor Cinq Music Group sued Create Music Group on Monday, accusing the company of preventing it from monetizing Swell’s 2016 song “I’m Sorry” on YouTube. Cinq’s complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, asks for “no less than $200,000” in damages, claiming intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, and negligent interference with prospective economic relations.
Billboard previously reported that more than 10 sources — including artist managers, lawyers and executives at other royalty collection companies — said they know of times when Create has claimed YouTube publishing royalties it has no right to receive. Create vehemently denied the allegations.
Cinq’s lawsuit, in contrast, involves copyright infringement claims related to one of the more elusive figures in modern music: Shiloh Dynasty, whose clips are widely sampled — most famously on several prominent XXXTentacion songs (including “Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares” and “Jocelyn Flores,” both of which have been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify). Swell samples Shiloh Dynasty on “I’m Sorry,” which was originally released back in 2016, looping a brief snippet of guitar and voice over a head-nod hip-hop beat.
Acknowledging that Shiloh “works with” Create,” Cinq’s filing alleges “there is an agreement in place between the artists [Swell and Shiloh Dynasty] for the clearance of the sample used in Swell’s song” that dates back to January 2017. Cinq’s complaint alleges that, even though the company notified Create of that alleged agreement, Create is acting as if Swell did not clear the Shiloh sample and issuing copyright infringement notices against “I’m Sorry.”
Cinq’s complaint alleges that Create “has been put on notice multiple times that the track in question does not infringe its artist’s copyright.” “Despite this,” the lawsuit claims, Create “has failed and refused to remove these copyright strikes, which have been improperly placed, and is thus impeding and interfering with Plaintiff’s ability to monetize the music of its artist Swell.”
Create is “falsely claiming that there is an ownership conflict with regards to the sound recording, when there is no such conflict,” Cinq’s filing reads. “Such notices have prevented Plaintiff from generating and collecting revenues from this particular track since June 2020.” As a result, Cinq accuses Create of “usurp[ing] business opportunities” and “caus[ing] damages into the six figures.”
In a statement, Jonathan Atzen, Create’s chief legal officer, said, “we are protecting the rights of our client by blocking Cinq’s improper monetization and synchronization efforts of audio-visual content which they don’t have the rights to.” David Jacobs, the attorney who represents Shiloh Dynasty, added in a separate statement that “Cinq does not have the contractual rights to monetize this asset in audio-visual usage including but not limited to YouTube.”
An attorney for Cinq did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this year, Create issued a takedown against another track that sampled Shiloh Dynasty, according to emails previously shared with Billboard. The producer who worked on that song also said he had a preexisting agreement in place with Shiloh, and when Create was notified of the existence of that agreement, it removed its copyright claim.