Celebrity fitness guru Jillian Michaels won a $5.7 million arbitration ruling against Lionsgate late Wednesday in a dispute over content posted for free on YouTube.
Nashville attorney Richard Busch, who represented Michaels in the dispute, called the victory a landmark decision.
"We are thrilled for Jillian," Busch said. "This is an incredibly important decision for all artists in the YouTube era in which we live. This decision represents a firm pronouncement that placing work on YouTube for free devalues it, and damages artists, like Jillian, who created it."
The ruling comes amid an ongoing dispute about the strategic value of free YouTube content. Some record labels and studios upload content hoping the promotional value outweighs the relatively low royalties that artists can earn from YouTube videos.
Michaels argued that by placing her workout content for free on Lionsgate's BeFit channel, her fans were less likely to pay for her content later on.
In her claim, Michaels argued that Lionsgate did not consult her before posting her video for free.
"We argued throughout that Liongate tried to build a YouTube business, BeFit, on Jillian’s back and popularity, but did not care that it did not have the right to do so, or the damage it did to her," Busch said. "We are very happy with the Arbitrator’s decision, including the Order requiring the removal of Jillian’s content from YouTube.”