Publishers sue Peloton for using songs by Katy Perry, Rihanna, Timberlake, others

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Publishers representing the writers of songs by Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood and hundreds of other artists sued Peloton Interactive Inc on Tuesday, accusing the maker of video-streaming stationary bicycles of copyright infringement.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, the 10 publishers are seeking more than $150 million in damages, accusing Peloton of exploiting their songs by using more than 1,000 in its videos without permission.

They said Peloton must stop "trampling" their rights by using their songs for free. They noted that the company having obtained song licenses from other publishers showed it "fully understood what the copyright law required."

Peloton, in a statement, said it is reviewing the complaint. It also said it has "great respect for songwriters and artists," and has "invested heavily to build a best-in-breed reporting and licensing system."

The New York-based company is expected to seek a more than $4 billion valuation in an initial public offering that could occur in the second half of 2019, The Wall Street Journal said.

Founded in 2012, Peloton sells bicycles starting at $2,245, in packages that it said require signing up for memberships to access live and on-demand classes for cycling, running, yoga and other activities. Access to unlimited classes costs $39 a month.

The 10 music publishers include Big Deal Music, Downtown Music Publishing, Ole, Peermusic, Pulse Music Publishing, Reservoir, The Richmond Organization, Round Hill, Royalty Network and Ultra Music.

They said Peloton's infringements cover songs by a who's who of the music industry, such as the unauthorized use of Rihanna's "Umbrella" in at least 55 workout videos.

The list of alleged infringements includes such songs as Mars' "Grenade," Perry's "Roar," Timberlake's "SexyBack" and Underwood's "Before He Cheats."

It also includes older songs such as Celine Dion's version of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Halloween staple "Monster Mash."

David Israelite, chief executive of the National Music Publishers' Association, a trade group representing the plaintiffs, in a statement said music was responsible for much of Peloton's business success.

"We look forward to getting music creators what they deserve," he said.

The case is Downtown Music Publishing LLC et al v Peloton Interactive Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-02426.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Bill Berkrot)

03/19/2019 22:05

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