Sony Music sues fitness brand Gymshark over music usage


Major labels are very keen to strike licensing deals with fitness tech startups, but they’re equally unkeen about the idea of other kinds of fitness brands using their music without the necessary agreements. Witness Sony Music’s new copyright infringement lawsuit against Gymshark, which makes a popular range of fitness clothing and kit.

As MBW reported, the lawsuit focuses on Gymshark’s advertising on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, saying that it “has not paid for the privilege to use the sound recordings that are featured in them” and has “misappropriated hundreds of the most popular and valuable sound recordings in the market”.

This may be an important case, because it highlights the place where platform-wide licensing deals for use of music in user-generated content meet the world of sync licensing. Regular users can use music in their videos, but when it comes to brands and influencers paid by those brands – commercial activity – it’s a different story.

If it isn’t settled out of court, this lawsuit will be an important test case. A settlement and a positive relationship between Gymshark and music rightsholders would be the best outcome, though.

As Chartmetric’s Chaz Jenkins pointed out at the ‘Feeling Good’ event we ran with the BPI last October, Gymshark’s roster of influencers don’t just flog fitness togs: they drive music streams too. “You don’t just follow on the socials, you don’t just wear the clothing. You listen to the playlists while you’re working out,” he said then.

Written by: Stuart Dredge