Video game company Activision is suing music critic Anthony Fantano, accusing him of “misusing” intellectual property laws on TikTok. In 2021, Fantano created a viral audio clip (“that’s enough slices“), and Activision claims he is demanding certain social media users pay him “extortionate” settlements after they re-use the clip.
In a filing (and as reported by Billboard), Activision says it received a threat from Fantano after they used the clip to promote its Crash Bandicoot franchise. Activision also claims Fantano intentionally made the clip available in TikTok’s audio library, which means he can’t sue users who also use it.
“This dispute is a textbook example of how intellectual property law can be misused by individuals to leverage unfair cash payments,” Activision’s lawyers write. “Fantano was very happy to receive the benefit of the public use of the Slices Video. It was only after he identified a financial opportunity — namely, receiving unjustified settlement payments — that he suddenly decided that his consent was limited.” They add: “The law does not permit, and the court should not countenance, such overt gamesmanship.”
Activision also say in their lawsuit that Fantano “deliberately and knowingly” added the audio to TikTok’s library and opted into the “Commercial Sounds” library, which means he’d be aware that his clip could be used in brand videos. Meanwhile, Activision says they agreed to pull the clip, but that Fantano asked that the company “either immediately pay him substantial monetary damages or be prepared to defend a lawsuit.” The amount Fantano asked for is reportedly in the six figures.
“With Fantano’s approval and encouragement, hundreds of thousands of TikTok users have incorporated the Slices Audio into their own videos over the past two years,” the company’s lawyers write. “But now … Fantano has embarked on a scheme whereby he selectively threatens to sue certain users of the Slices Audio unless they pay him extortionate amounts of money for their alleged use.”