After a lawsuit was filed against Peloton last week, the exercise startup is removing classes featuring songs publishers claim were being used without proper licenses.
The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and members Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group and The Royalty Network have accused Peloton of copyright infringement on more than 1,000 musical works and are seeking more than $150 million in damages.
In a letter to Peloton users first reported by TMZ on Monday (March 25), company founder and CEO John Foley addressed the lawsuit, saying users should hear directly from him on the issue.
“Peloton respects the rights of all creators, including performing artists and songwriters. The filing of the lawsuit is unfortunate and disappointing, as it occurred after what appeared to be fruitful discussions with most of the publishers named,” said Foley in the statement. He added that “out of an abundance of caution,” the company has decided to remove classes featuring the songs identified as publishers.
NMPA president and CEO David Israelite previously told Billboard the alleged infringement dates back at least to 2017 when the company began sharing the playlists of music it includes in its exercise videos, but more violations could revealed in the lawsuit’s discovery phase. While Peloton has deals with some record labels and music publishers, Israelite said, it didn’t clear all the rights to all the songs used.
“There is this inexplicable situation where Peloton seems to have licensed properly some music, but not all music,” he tells Billboard. “I’m sure there are other publishers whose songs are being used that are not currently included in our complaint…. This could be the tip of the iceberg.”
Foley continued in his letter, noting users may see a near-term impact but it will not affect the overall experience, its cost or “access to the kind of music you’re used to hearing behind our instructors in the thousands of classes in our library.”
He also noted that Peloton does have deals with many major and independent publishers and labels, and overall “strong creative relationships with our licensors, with managers of artists and songwriters, and with our music streaming service partners.”
“Peloton believes that being the best partner we can be to songwriters and artists ultimately best serves our Membership and community,” Foley concluded. “We remain committed to bringing you the most impactful music experience in fitness.”
On Monday evening Israelite shared a statement responding to Foley’s letter, saying, “The best way for Peloton to prove that it wants to ‘partner’ with songwriters is to respect their rights and pay them.”
He continued, “Removing music that hasn’t been properly licensed for years is too little and too late, and proves that Peloton should not have offered such music in the first place. This lawsuit was a last resort after months of discussions that were not fruitful, and it is unfortunate that Peloton users are having to bear the brunt of its failure to properly license music by losing access to some of their favorite songs. We hope Peloton will recognize the value of music to its customers and instead of having agreements with ‘many independent publishers’ – put agreements in place with all independent publishers, as should always have been the case.”
UPDATE: This article was updated at 10 p.m. EST to include Israelite’s statement.