Earlier this year, a group of US music-publishers sued fitness startup Peloton for copyright infringement, seeking damages of more than $150m for what they claimed was unlicensed use of some of their songs. The company subsequently removed exercise classes on its service that featured works identified in the lawsuit. Now Peloton is hitting back.
Billboard reported on the company’s counter-claim filed this week. “Peloton is not the bad actor that Plaintiffs portray it to be,” it claimed. “Peloton values the musical element of its service offering and respects – and pays – the music rightsholders associated with that offering.” The company also says it has spent “tens of millions of dollars” developing a licensing system for its business – a figure that includes its acquisition in 2018 of music firm Neurotic Media – and is hitting out at publishing body the NMPA for its role in the lawsuit.
“NMPA has instigated a coordinated effort… to fix prices and to engage in a concerted refusal to deal with Peloton,” suggests Peloton’s filing. “Through these actions, NMPA has exceeded the bounds of legitimate conduct for a trade association and become the ringleader of concerted activity among would-be competitor music publishers, all in violation of the antitrust laws.”
Needless to say, the NMPA hasn’t reacted well to that argument. “Peloton’s countersuit is further evidence that it does not value its relationship with the music industry but is instead hostile to the people without which it could not have built its thriving business,” said its EVP and general counsel Danielle Aguirre as part of a statement provided to Billboard.