Fresh claims against Ashy Bines
A BRISBANE mum will launch legal action against Ashy Bines "within months" following claims the fitness guru plagiarised her recipes.
Food blogger Allie Dodds, 26, is planning to sue the Gold Coast model and personal trainer for at least $150,000 in damages after alleging Ms Bines lifted a number of recipes and photos from her blog, Mealspiration, and published them in a clean eating e-book which was released several years ago.
Ms Bines is the founder of the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge fitness program and a range of other programs and apps including Squad and Booty.
She also sells activewear from her Toned range, clean eating plans and recipes, supplements and haircare items via her website ashybines.com.au.
According to Miss Dodds, at least five of her recipes and their accompanying photos were plagiarised in 2012, including kangaroo rolls, salmon and cauliflower sushi and chicken quiche.
Miss Dodds alleged one of the photos even featured her own hands, which are distinctive as she has a heart tattoo on her thumb.
Miss Dodds, a mother of one, said she attempted to contact the company via Facebook once she discovered the alleged plagiarism, but received no response.
She emailed the company six months later but again did not hear back.
She said her lawyers had sent the company a formal letter of demand late last year, and the company had since denied breaching copyright.
However, in 2015 Ms Bines released a video on YouTube addressing plagiarism claims.
While she stopped short of apologising or referring to any specific recipe in the footage, Ms Bines admitted her books had been outsourced to an anonymous nutritionist.
"As a business woman, I often outsource projects to experts and people better qualified to give you the best information," Ms Bines said.
"Unfortunately, I may have been too naive to think that I wouldn't have to check the origins of each recipe.
"It's recently come to my attention that some of these recipes were not originals at all, and have been copied from other sources. This was never my intention and it really sucks that these things can happen."
Miss Dodds said she was determined to stand up for herself despite the fact Ashy Bines was a well-known figure with four million followers on Facebook and 929,000 on Instagram.
Since discovering her recipes in the e-book, Miss Dodd had sought further clarification of copyright law and launched a crowd-funding campaign to help cover her legal fees.
She said she was now ready to "show that I am taking this seriously".
"[The alleged plagiarism] was definitely disheartening. I started putting stuff out there because friends and family knew I was on a new health journey and they wanted to see what I was doing and get inspiration," she said.
"To see someone who promotes herself as a woman who is a fitness guru supporting woman and changing lives, then take that away from someone else … damage has been done.
"I could have pursued my blogging career or created my own recipe book but I was so rattled by the fact that she took [my recipes] and got away with it.
"I would love to have some form of apology moving forward because it definitely stopped me from blogging for quite a while. I hope it never happens again and it's worth standing up for even five years down the track because it's important to me to show I am quite serious about it."
Ashy Bines has been contacted for comment.
Miss Dodds' claims follow a news.com.au article published on Monday which reported on the mounting complaints against the Ashy Bines fitness empire, with upset customers accusing the company of taking unauthorised payments from credit cards and bank accounts and censoring negative feedback.
Since the article was published, news.com.au has been contacted by a further six customers who have made fresh allegations of unauthorised deductions, censorship, intimidation and difficulty obtaining items or refunds connected with the Toned activewear range.
There are also a number of social media accounts that have been set up solely to publicise customer complaints. Each account has thousands of followers who have used the platforms to voice countless grievances with the company.
The Ashy Bines Company Truths Instagram account has 16,900 followers - a number which grew by thousands since the original article was published.
A NSW Fair Trading spokesman urged dissatisfied Ashy Bines customers to first contact the company to try and resolve the issue, and to lodge a written complaint with NSW Fair Trading at fairtrading.nsw.gov.au if a resolution could not be reached.