risen-wang-20jX9b35r_M-unsplashIt’s hard to sell the idea of working out to people who aren’t already committed to the concept. No one is disagreeing on the benefits of looking and feeling better, but the cost of time and sweat and agony isn’t something many of us are eager to pay. How then can fitness companies sell to those who are hard to persuade? By making working out seem cool.

We’re all familiar with ads for workout equipment, featuring beautiful people in spacious, well-appointed houses going through their routines with relative ease to maintain their toned physiques. The cherry on top of many of these ads are hit songs of the moment, typically something upbeat to get the blood flowing. All of it fits together to create a portrait of how great our lives (and our bodies) could be if we bought the machine in question. It might not all be as perfect as all that, however, at least from the legal side of things. 

Sony Music is accusing Gymshark of copyright infringement in using the label’s music in its ads without license, according to Reuters. In its complaint, Sony states that Gymshark is featuring songs from its artists prominently in social media ads — that the songs are perhaps the main feature of the ads, without any other narration or sound in the videos. While that’s not a surprising feature in social media ads of any stripe, what is surprising is that Gymshark would choose to do so without getting proper permission, at least in Sony’s telling. 

Not that any instance of copyright infringement is more acceptable or understandable, but it would be more of a piece with stories of this ilk if Gymshark was a small, up-and-coming brand that through that it both needed to do something that skirts the law because they couldn’t afford licensing fees but nevertheless needed to make impactful ads. But Gymshark is a company valued at over $1 billion, far too large to escape anyone’s notice. And Sony’s complaint alleges that Gymshark reached out about licensing before seemingly letting the matter drop, so there’s no argument to be made that they weren’t aware of the need for licenses (not that ignorance is a valid defense.) 

It’s a perplexing move for a company that seems as though it could afford licenses, or at least afford to pay musicians to come up with some original work for their ads that still captures the peppy vibe they’re probably going for. Whatever cost they thought they might be saving in not paying licensing fees will have to be rendered many times over in legal costs. Sweating over a possible court case probably isn’t the kind of workout Gymshark has in mind.

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