16 July 2021CopyrightAlex Baldwin

Sony accuses Gymshark of ‘massive’ music copyright infringement

Sony Music has sued fitness apparel company Gymshark, alleging it misappropriated copyrighted music from artists such as Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Travis Scott in its social media video ads.

Gymshark promotes itself through various social media apps including TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, by posting videos of its products featuring copyrighted music.

The complaint, filed with the US District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that Gymshark misappropriated “hundreds” of its “most popular and valuable sound recordings” in these videos.

The fitness apparel company has accrued more than seven million followers across various social media platforms, and more than 60 million if the brand’s social media influencer partners are included.

“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,” Sony claimed.

According to the complaint, Sony licenses music to many of Gymshark’s competitors, including exercise bike company Peloton, to create themed fitness videos. It also licenses music to other fitness apparel brands such as Nike and Under Armour for use in commercials.

Sony argues that Gymshark’s infringement was “knowing, deliberate, and willful”, citing a meeting between Sony representatives and Gymshark’s head of PR and brand partnerships in which the company looked to obtain a license to use a portion of a Sony Music recording to be posted on Gymshark’s social media accounts for a limited period.

However, Gymshark never signed the agreement or paid a license fee to Sony, the complaint claims.

Sony Music is accusing the company of copyright infringement, contributory infringement through its third-party influencer partners, and vicarious infringement.

It is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against Gymshark and up to $150,000 in damages for each case of infringement.

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