You’d think Peloton would have figured out their music licensing rights deals by now. Considering the company has partnered with Beyoncé, Eminem, and David Bowie’s estate in the recent past, streaming music to play alongside their cycling workout programs ought to be a fairly straightforward setup, just as it is with any streaming service: The music gets used and royalty payment gets paid out to the copyright owners. Well, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill and his company Soul Assassins Inc., Peloton has been using Cypress Hill’s music and not paying for the rights to do so.
“Peloton’s use of [the songs] in its work-out videos without a license from Soul Assassins is an outrageous, willful infringement because Peloton was sued by a group of music publishers in March of 2019 for doing the exact same thing,” DJ Muggs’ lawyers wrote, in a court document obtained by Billboard. “Clearly […] Peloton knew unequivocally that it had no right to use any musical composition in its exercise videos without first obtaining a license for one hundred percent of the song.”
The 2019 claim cited above, is in reference to a $150 million suit filed by the NMPA, claiming that Peloton was using music by artists like Drake, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and more, without securing the exclusive rights to do so. Now, Muggs claims that Peloton has used Cypress Hill tracks including “Insane In The Brain” and “Rap (Superstar)” without permission.
How Peloton is not locked into licensing deals the way TikTok or even Spotify are, is a bit mind-boggling. This feels similar to when podcasts were (and still regularly do) receiving takedown notices en masse for using songs without permission. Spotify as a podcast platform found a way to pay out royalties to those rights holders via their existing streaming agreements. It would serve Peloton well to enter into a partnership with a streaming service who can clear the usage rights for them so they don’t have to keep going on the defensive for what are very pricey lawsuits. Until then, Muggs and Soul Assassins Inc. are having none of it.
“Peloton is a textbook willful infringer,” the claim states. “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.”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.