Peloton Faces a $150 Million Lawsuit from 10 Different Music Publishers

Looks like Peloton has an exhausting legal workout ahead.

Peloton’s sophisticated in-home cycling workouts are now the subject of a massive music industry lawsuit.  Earlier today (Tuesday), a gaggle of music publishers filed a $150 million lawsuit against the workout giant.

At this stage, it looks like Peloton skipped critical synchronization licenses for its music-intensive video workouts.  Synchronization, or ‘sync’ licenses, cover the use of music when paired (or ‘synced’) with audio-visual action.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), with listed plaintiffs Downtown Music Publishing, The Royalty Network, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group.

We’re guessing that plaintiff list is set to balloon, but ten publishers is a serious start.

Strangely, Peloton licensed some of the music it uses in its integrated, screen-focused workouts.  But its half-baked licensing apparently left out a few critical details — about $150 million worth of them.

“While the fitness technology company has licensed with some of the music publishing industry, it has failed to do so with a significant number of publishers, leaving a great deal of income lost to songwriters,” the NMPA stated.

The trade group listed blatant infringement from a range of superstar artists, including Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Wiz Khalifa, Thomas Rhett, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Florida Georgia Line, Drake, Gwen Stefani.

In a live workout environment, a playlist of songs would be covered by standard performance licenses.  But once those uses cross into videos, a direct sync license is required with the copyright owners.  More importantly, these deals aren’t governed by statutory rates, so damages would be pegged to expected open-market deals.

Peloton itself seemed a little shell-shocked.  Indeed, this isn’t the first time a major company has appeared dumbfounded over the industry’s multiple licenses — including Spotify.  “We just received the complaint this morning, and we are evaluating it,” the cycling company relayed. 

“Peloton has great respect for songwriters and artists. In fact, we have partnered with each of the major music publishers, record labels and performing rights organizations, and many leading independents. We have also invested heavily to build a best-in-breed reporting and licensing system to support our partners and provide our members with a world-class fitness experience.”

Anyone know a good music attorney?