Following up on a post last month on a Hot Yoga Copyright Dispute… launched by Bikram Yoga to defend copyrights held in a sequence of 26 Hatha Yoga postures… The US Copyright Office has weighed in on the court proceedings and issued a letter stating that a Hatha Yoga sequence is NOT granted copyright as a work of choreography.
An excerpt from the Defendant’s legal document submitted to the US District Court in California, quoting correspondence from the US Copyright office:
“..[T]he Choudhury Yoga Sequence is legally invalid because the Copyright Office has determined that yoga is not protected as choreography. According to a December 7, 2011 letter to Defendants from Laura Lee Fischer, Acting Chief of the Performing Arts Division of the Copyright Office, the Copyright Office previously “took the position that although functional physical movements did not represent the type of authorship which Congress intended to be protected under the copyright law, [the Copyright Office] could register the selection and ordering of public domain exercises.” However, the Copyright Office recently reevaluated this position. “The Registration Program of the Copyright Office reviewed the legislative history relating to section l02(a) of the copyright law, and in conjunction with senior management, determined that exercises, including yoga exercises, do not constitute the subject matter that Congress intended to protect as choreography. Thus, we will not register such exercises (including yoga movements), whether described as exercises or as selection and ordering of movements.” [From page 10-11 of Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint dated 12/9/2011. In the case: Bikram’s Yoga College of India L.P. v. Yoga to the People, Inc., 11-cv-07998, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). click here for the court document ]
You can breathe easy… in any Hatha Yoga sequence of your choice. Although, it appears that this lawsuit is still alive and moving forward since there are other non-copyright elements in the case.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
For more information: http://wp.me/p10nNq-fE on HOT YOGA dispute; http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/PubArticleDBR.jsp?id=1323647402672&slreturn=1; http://dockets.justia.com and http://www.yogatruth.org/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.