Every fitness pro and instructor knows that music can make or break a workout. With the right playlist, clients are often motivated to run a little faster, cycle a little harder or Zumba a little feistier.
While designing classes centered around great tunes is an increasingly important part of a fitness instructor’s job, a recent lawsuit filed against the popular digital fitness company, Peloton, is a reminder that music used during commercial classes or at gyms must be licensed or risk getting slapped with an expensive copyright suit. In the case of Peloton, the company was hit with a $150 million-dollar lawsuit filed by nine music publishers and all current members of the National Music Publishers Association, who claim that the company knowingly used their music during classes without obtaining the proper licensing. The suit further alleges that Peloton used more than 1,000 unauthorized songs during their live stream classes from popular artists like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Drake, and Rhianna, just to name a few.
As a result of the lawsuit, Peloton was forced to remove hundreds of classes from it’s On Demand platform, which ultimately angered subscription customers who saw up to 60-70% of their saved classes disappear from their paid digital library.
Tips for Avoiding a Licensing Nightmare
If you think you can get away with using unlicensed music just because you are not running a huge company like Peloton, you may want to read this article about small yoga studios that were sued over unpaid licensing fees by the ASCAP.
The bottom line is that anytime you are playing music as part of a commercial class or during a fitness service, you need to get a Public Performance License to ensure that the owners of the copyrighted music that you are playing are being compensated. You can do that by getting in contact with these top three performance rights organizations in the United States:
As a side note, if you own more than one gym location or you have a national franchise, you may want to work with a lawyer who can help negotiate a license that will cover your multiple locations under one agreement.
But I Actually PAY for My Streaming ServiceW
We’ve talked to a number of fitness pros lately who think that just because they pay for a subscription to a streaming service like Spotify or Pandora, that they are free to use this music during classes. However, the Terms of Service agreements for these streaming platforms are very clear that even paid subscriptions are still only for personal use.
When in Doubt, Talk to an Intellectual Property Attorney
Before you launch a new class, or stream one of your workouts over the internet, it’s important to check and double check that you have the right to use the music that you want to play. Paying the small licensing fee upfront can spare you from massive damages down the road if your copyright theft is ultimately discovered.
If you have questions or need assistance securing a public performance license for your gym or facility, we invite you to contact our intellectual property attorneys at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.