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Judge Lets NMPA Double Damages to $300M in Peloton Copyright Suit

Billboard logo Billboard 9/29/2019 Tatiana Cirisano
a woman sitting on a bicycle: Peloton Bike© Courtesy of Peloton Peloton Bike

A Manhattan federal judge has approved the National Music Publishers' Association's (NMPA) request to double damages to $300 million in a lawsuit against Peloton, for the exercise startup's alleged use of more than 2,000 songs in its workout videos without the proper licenses. 

U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote approved the NMPA's amendment on Friday, roughly two weeks after it was filed, according to court documents obtained by Billboard.  

"It is only as a result of initial discovery in this lawsuit that the full scope and extent of Peloton’s unlawful infringement has started to come into focus," attorneys for the NMPA argued in the amended complaint, "revealing more than 1,000 additional musical works that Plaintiffs own or control that Peloton has infringed during the relevant time period, beyond the 1,000+ infringed works identified in the original Complaint in this action."

Those "newly-discovered works" include hits like The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There," Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" and The Who's "I Can See For Miles."

The NMPA originally filed suit back in March, seeking $150,000 in damages for Peloton's alleged infringing use of roughly 1,000 songs in its library of 13,000-plus virtual fitness classes, which customers pay a membership fee to access. Peloton, which was founded in 2012, also manufactures stationary bikes with touchscreens that connect to the virtual classes. 

"There is no doubt that Peloton’s infringement was and continues to be knowing and reckless," the complaint argues. "Peloton fully understood what the copyright law required, having entered into sync licenses with certain other copyright holders, while trampling the rights of Plaintiffs by using their musical works for free and without permission."

NMPA members Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, Anthem, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group, The Royalty Network and others are also named as plaintiffs in the suit against Peloton Interactive, Inc. And there's a chance that the NMPA will soon rally more plaintiffs behind its case: "During this process, Publishers also learned that a number of the infringed works are controlled by affiliates who are not now named Plaintiffs," the amended complaint reads.

Meanwhile, Peloton stock tumbled 11% this week after a lackluster initial public offering, where shares opened at $27 per share, $2 less than Peloton's IPO pricing of $29. In its IPO filing in late August, the company named its ability (or inability) to secure music licenses among its biggest risk factors for continued growth. 

A representative for King & Spalding LLP, which represents Peloton in the case, declined to comment. Billboard has reached out to the plaintiff's attorney.

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