Hollywood trainer Tracy Anderson's famous 'method' is 'uncopyrightable,' a judge ruled

Hollywood trainer Tracy Anderson's famous 'method' is 'uncopyrightable,' a judge ruled
  • A judge ruled that celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson's famous "method" is "uncopyrightable."

  • In 2022, Anderson sued her ex-employee, Megan Roup, accusing her of copying the workout method Anderson says she invented.

  • Anderson's lawyer told BI that the fitness guru "seeks to vindicate her rights against" Roup.

In a blow to celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, a federal judge ruled this week that the fitness pioneer's famous exercise "method" is "uncopyrightable."

US District Judge Philip Gutierrez issued the ruling Wednesday in the federal lawsuit Anderson brought against one of her former trainers, the Sculpt Society founder, Megan Roup.

In July 2022, Anderson sued Roup in the Central District of California, accusing her of copyright infringement, breach of contract, and other claims. The high-profile fitness guru said in the lawsuit that Roup copied her signature workout, the "Tracy Anderson Method" or "TA Method" — a dance-based workout routine.

"The Court finds that Anderson's routines are clearly an unprotectable process, system, and/or methodology," Gutierrez wrote in his recent ruling.

"Courts have found that 'exercises, while undoubtedly the product of much time and effort, are, at bottom, simply a process for achieving increased consciousness. Such processes, even if original, cannot be protected by copyright,'" the order read.

The order added, "And because the TA Method is uncopyrightable, the Court need not reach the issues of whether the TA Method could be considered choreography and if TAMB [Tracy Anderson Mind and Body] actually owns the copyrights."

Anderson's lawyer Gina Durham told Business Insider Friday that her client is looking forward to the trial, which will proceed on a breach of contract claim.

"Tracy Anderson initiated this lawsuit against Megan Roup and The Sculpt Society to protect her art form that she built from the ground up through decades of research, development, testing, and investment," Durham said.

"Ms. Anderson seeks to vindicate her rights against Roup and The Sculpt Society, who have improperly capitalized on, and benefitted from, Ms. Anderson's decades of hard work," she added.

Durham said that Gutierrez's ruling "did not fully analyze specific choreographic works that Ms. Anderson has registered with the Copyright Office" and that they will "continue to pursue protection of those works and unauthorized uses under the law."

Nathaniel Bach, a lawyer for Roup, celebrated the judge's ruling in a statement to BI.

"We are pleased with the Court's ruling unequivocally rejecting Tracy Anderson's copyright claim, finding that the TA Method is not copyrightable, full stop," Bach said.

"This is not only a win for Megan, who built The Sculpt Society from the ground up — attracting a broad and welcoming community devoted to the joy of physical movement — but a ruling benefitting the entire fitness industry, making clear that no one owns physical exercise or dance cardio," said Bach. "We look forward to prevailing on what little remains of the case at trial."

Tracy Anderson
Tracy Anderson says a former trainer has capitalized on her method.Samuel Eric Anderson

Roup founded a workout app called the Sculpt Society in 2017 shortly after leaving Anderson's namesake fitness company, where she worked for more than five years.

Anderson's lawsuit against Roup says that while Roup was a trainer at Tracy Anderson, she had "access to all material necessary to replicate the TA Method and related business, and she wasted no time in doing so."

In the lawsuit, Anderson accuses Roup of copying "choreography movements, sequences, and routines," "organizational structure and format," and "aesthetic elements" from 19 of Anderson's fitness DVDs. These DVDs, released between 2008 and 2014, include "The Method for Beginners" and "Unleash Your Inner Pop Star."

Roup has denied the allegations and has tried to get the lawsuit dismissed. The case is slated to proceed to trial later this year on the remaining claim.

Anderson, who has trained celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, and Victoria Beckham, has long been fearful that her trainers would leave and steal her clients and her method.

In 2023, two of Anderson's ex-trainers, who now run their own fitness companies, told BI that they received warning letters from Anderson's attorneys accusing them of stealing Anderson's movements and violating a non-compete agreement.

Two other former employees said a member of Anderson's management team asked them to monitor ex-trainers' social-media accounts for any signs they might be stealing Anderson's movements.

Another former trainer said that while she was still working at Tracy Anderson, she was reprimanded by management for merely liking former instructors' Instagram posts.

Read the original article on Business Insider