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‘Biggest Loser’ Star Wins $5.8M Ruling Over YouTube Videos

Youtube logo on a laptopAn arbitration ruling ordered Lionsgate to pay as much as $5.8 million to celebrity fitness expert Jillian Michaels, star trainer for the Biggest Loser, over a dispute on the distribution of YouTube videos. The issue stemmed from Michaels’ claim that the entertainment and media company featured her instructional videos on their YouTube channel for free and without any required subscriptions to access the content. The celebrity’s win represents a landmark case for distribution rights for entrepreneurs using YouTube as their medium, according to Richard Busch, Michaels’ lawyer. Aside from protecting your distribution rights, the ruling also indicates the importance of accounting for royalties to avoid losing revenue.

Historical Argument

Lionsgate’s conflict with Michaels seemingly began in 2007 at the height of the Biggest Loser’s success in television. The company struck the iron while it was hot, as it sought to distribute and produce fitness videos based on the hit show. However, it wasn’t until in April 2015 that the celebrity filed a legal complaint against Lionsgate. Michaels argued that some of her videos have circulated on the company’s BeFit, its fitness YouTube channel. Between 2012 and 2013, Lionsgate’s distribution of the media content on the channel led to a decline in the plaintiff’s DVD sales at the same time that BeFit’s traffic rose to over 27.5 million, according to arbitrator Bruce Friedman’s ruling.

Case Settlement

Feldman further cited the “broad language” used in the deal between both parties, particularly Lionsgate’s ability to display videos online free of charge to viewers, thus not requiring it to pay royalty fees to Michaels. The fitness expert also noted that Lionsgate allegedly went ahead of its decision to showcase her videos for free without consulting her. Feldman ultimately ruled that these actions are unreasonable, as well as the terms of the plaintiff’s deal. We live in an era where businesses earn money from online channels, so it’s important to know how you can protect your source of income while finding ways to increase it at the same time.
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