Jillian Michaels Scores $5.7 Million in Dispute Over YouTube Fitness Videos

“This decision represents a firm pronouncement that placing work on YouTube for free devalues it, and damages artists,” celebrity fitness expert’s lawyer tells TheWrap

“The Biggest Loser” alum Jillian Michaels has emerged a big winner in her dispute with Lionsgate.

Celebrity fitness expert Michaels has been awarded $5.7 million in an arbitration ruling against Lionsgate,  stemming from a legal battle over fitness videos posted to YouTube, the Tennessean reports.

Michaels initially struck a deal with Lionsgate that allowed the company to distribute Michaels’ workout videos in DVD form. As part of the agreement, Lionsgate was allowed to promote the DVDs with clips on YouTube.

The fitness expert cried foul, however, after Lionsgate launched its fitness channel BeFit on YouTube, featuring Michaels’ content.

While a settlement was reached between Lionsgate and Michaels over royalties from the YouTube videos, Michaels further argued that consumers were less likely to pay for the videos she posted on her own subscription site, if the YouTube content was available for free.

The Tennessean reported that BeFit’s content jumped from 6.7 million views to 27.5 million between 2012 and 2013, a period during which Michaels’ DVD sales declined, and continued to decline through 2015, while BeFit’s views remained steady.

While Michaels’ content accounts for about three percent of BeFit’s total catalog, views for Michaels’ content have made up between 39 and 50 percent of BeFit’s total views.

Michaels’ attorney, Richard Busch, called the ruling, which was handed down Wednesday, an “incredibly important decision for all artists in the YouTube era.

“We are thrilled to have won this for Jillian. 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,” Busch said.

“We argued throughout that Lionsgate 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 added. “We are very happy with the Arbitrator’s decision, including the Order requiring the removal of Jillian’s content from YouTube.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.