I do reformer pilates lessons a lot. As Joseph Pilates is often referred to with reverence, I should have assumed there was a copyright battle over the rights someplace. It seems Sean Gallagher purchased what rights remained, after Pilates' death, from Pilates' former business partner and promptly started suing folks back in the 1990s. Gallagher lost the resultant lawsuit, and the name "Pilates" was deemed generic.
Now, Mr. Gallagher is suing folks over some photos included in his purchase. Pilates studios have been sued for reproducing some of these classic images on social media or probably anyplace else he can spot their use.
The current battle comes as a sequel of sorts to the trademark case. This time around, Mr. Gallagher is trying to stop Pilates instructors from digitally sharing the images that he says he owns the copyright to. Some of the pictures, taken from the boxes of materials he acquired in 1992, became accessible to Pilates enthusiasts after they appeared in "The Joseph H. Pilates Archive Collection," a book Mr. Gallagher published in 2000. Others had been circulated by Mr. and Mrs. Pilates, and their students.
In an interview, Mr. Gallagher offered a reason for his attempts to prevent others in the Pilates community from sharing the photos online: "If you're my competitor, I'm not necessarily going to allow you to use my stuff to compete against me." His opponents said that they have not shared the images to market their businesses, but to educate people about "classical Pilates," a term used to indicate the method as Mr. Pilates himself taught it.
The Reddit thread is great: