Sony Music Entertainment has filed a firmly worded lawsuit against Solihull, England-headquartered fitness-apparel company Gymshark.
The Big Three record label – along with Sony Music Entertainment US Latin, Zomba Recording, the defunct LaFace Records (the catalog of which is handled by RCA), Arista Records, and others – just recently submitted the roughly 20-page-long complaint to a California federal court. DMN obtained an exclusive copy of the straightforward action, which accuses the defendant of direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement.
The nine-year-old fitness-apparel business “has achieved its success by infringing sound recordings and musical compositions belonging to a number of different content owners…on a massive scale,” the document relays at the outset, with the purported infringement having occurred largely in social-media adverts, according to the plaintiffs.
“While these social media ‘commercials’ have been instrumental to Gymshark’s success, Gymshark has not paid for the privilege to use the sound recordings that are featured in them,” the text proceeds. “Gymshark has misappropriated hundreds of the most popular and valuable sound recordings in the market, using those creative works to drive massive sales.”
Gymshark, which began as a supplement company, has specifically utilized works from high-profile SME creators including Britney Spears, Beyonce, Harry Styles, Usher, Travis Scott, and The Chainsmokers, the document continues, before making a point of mentioning the Big Three record label’s professional relationship with Peloton.
From there, acknowledging that Gymshark creates some of these videos itself and compensates third-party influencers to create others, the plaintiffs state that the promotional clips “often actively integrate the sound recordings,” including when actors lip-sync a portion of the lyrics before beginning to show off the apparel at hand.
Similarly, the text emphasizes that the nearly $1.5 billion company – which reportedly generated $330 million in 2020 – pays certain influencers substantial sums and crafts adverts “with professional grade technologies…similar to a traditional television commercial for athleticwear.”
Additionally, a Gymshark employee purportedly approached SME in late 2020 to secure a license for a track on social media – thereby demonstrating “Gymshark’s awareness that a license was required” – but the talks fell through, and the song nevertheless made its way into an ad spot, the plaintiffs claim.
At the time of this piece’s publishing, Gymshark – 21 percent of which belongs to General Atlantic, following an August of 2020 deal – didn’t appear to have commented publicly on the lawsuit from Sony Music Entertainment. About 12 days back, the major label itself (along with Chris Brown) was named in a copyright infringement lawsuit, and dozens of former SME Australia employees are reportedly considering filing a class-action complaint against the company.