Jillian Michaels, the fitness entrepreneur and former star of The Biggest Loser, was awarded roughly $5.8 million in a dispute filed against entertainment studio Lionsgate — which Michaels alleged had violated a contract by streaming her exercise videos for free on YouTube, subsequently stemming sales and damaging her brand.
Additionally, Lionsgate was ordered by an arbitrator to pay attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Michaels filed her claim in April 2015 after signing a deal with Lionsgate back in 2007 to distribute fitness programming via physical DVDs and VOD channels. As part of the deal, she had the right to consult on distribution prior to any releases.
By 2010, however, Michaels realized that the videos were appearing for free on BeFit, Lionsgate’s fitness YouTube channel. While Lionsgate did compensate Michaels for ad earnings on the videos to the tune of $85,000, the arbitrator, who ruled in Michaels’ favor, notes that her DVD sales plummeted as the BeFit channel grew.
“It defies logic that [Michaels] would agree to create content for [Lionsgate] that would ultimately be given away for free,” wrote arbitrator Bruce Friedman, “preventing her from being compensated under the agreement and potentially hurting her brand.” He also rejected Lionsgate’s argument that streaming the videos was a promotional tactic that contributed to sales. The $5.8 million award in Michaels’ favor represents both past lost and future profits.
“This is an important decision for not just me, but for all experts, artists, and content creators finding their work devalued and revenue lost in this digital age,” Michaels, who now has her own streaming fitness network, FitFusion, told Business Insider of the decision. “It is a win for the consumer and the experts, and how I hope the digital media landscape can continue to evolve.”