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Career enhancer or flat-out company rip off? Arbitrator rules.

The entertainment and media company Lionsgate conceded to an arbitrator that it flooded the YouTube with free videos of top-tier fitness guru Jillian Michaels workout programs to make advertising revenue, but it also insisted that the free views enhanced Michaels' presence and career.

Specifically, the company noted, the fact that many millions of consumers zeroed in on the free Michaels programs helped the fitness icon claim a massive global audience and profit materially from spiked DVD sales engendered by that greater public awareness.

Understandably, Michaels did not see things that way, arguing in a filing for damages and an injunction that Lionsgate was doing nothing other than blatantly ripping her off.

As contended by her legal team, "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."

Which of those two arguments did the arbitrator figuratively buy?

Game and match hands down to Michaels, with evidence submitted in the arbitration that clearly revealed a lopsided and long-term advantage for Lionsgate at the expense of Michaels' career via the company's free video postings. The arbitrator noted that, while Michaels'-related content only comprised about 3% of what appeared on the BeFit channel, it often accounted for as much as half of all consumer hits.

And coupled with that, further evidence indicated that the ratcheted-up DVD sales that Lionsgate stated would result from the free BeFit views never materialized. In fact, stated the arbitrator, "Michaels' DVDs declined and continued to decline."

The arbitrator awarded Michaels $5.7 million for lost profits and related revenues and additionally ordered the removal of all her videos from BeFit.

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