The biggest companies in the recording industry are banding together to take down a music and fitness app they claim is infringing on the copyrights of works by artists including Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo and Will Smith.
Sony, Warner Bros., Capitol Records and others on Thursday sued Fit Radio for copyright infringement, claiming the app is damaging artists and companies that rely on royalties and licensing income.
“Defendants tout their service as the ‘#1 Workout Music App,’ and boast that they have millions of users,” writes attorney James Lamberth in a complaint filed Thursday in Georgia federal court. “Fit Radio has achieved this success because it infringes and facilitates the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on a massive scale.”
The labels claim Fit Radio third-party DJs are encouraged to upload popular songs to playlists on the streaming app, which enables the company to distribute that music to the public for a fee of $3.99 per month, $27.99 per year or $79.99 for life. Users can search for artists, specific songs or playlists separated into activities like “Elliptical” or genres like “Top 40.” They can also “share” playlists through social media, text and email.
According to the complaint, Fit Radio can’t rely on a statutory license, akin to the one used by Pandora, because the service is interactive and allows users to manually select a particular song as well as skip an unlimited number of tracks. It’s unclear whether Fit Radio has been paying the statutory license fee, which is significantly lower than the amount paid by services that don’t qualify under the law and pay a direct license fee.
The labels are suing Fit Radio for direct, vicarious and contributory copyright infringement, as well as for inducing its DJs to commit copyright infringement. They are seeking an injunction to bar the service and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work.
The Recording Industry Association of America on Thursday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement about the lawsuit: “Consumers have numerous options for digital music services, including licensed fitness apps that partner with music creators. Fit Radio has failed to obtain the proper licenses for music, denying artists and labels the royalties they deserve. This action demonstrates our commitment to fostering and protecting the legitimate marketplace for both creators and consumers.”
Fit Radio has not yet commented on the complaint.