Around this time last year we reported on a big old lawsuit pinning Bikram against several yoga studios claiming copyright infringement. Just last week, news came that Greg Gumucio of Yoga To The People, one of the studios in the million dollar lawsuit, had settled, agreeing to stop teaching the sequence by February 2013. Yesterday, the federal court ruling on Bikram vs. Evolation took a different turn. Bikram’s copyright claims did NOT hold up in court.
The official ruling states:
The Court concludes that the yoga sequence itself is not covered under Choudhury’s copyrights and thus, there can be no infringement.
This means Bikram’s books, videos and other materials can be protected, but the 26-pose sequence in a hot room can not.
In the Dec. 14 ruling, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright Wright said, “even if the manner in which Choudhury arranged the sequence is unique, the sequence would not be copyrightable subject matter because individual yoga poses are not copyrightable subject matter.”
This echoes the statements of the U.S. Copyright Office made in June that said, going forward, “A compilation of exercises or the selection and arrangement of yoga poses will be refused registration.”
Evolation released a statement via their website:
Evolation has not been looking for a fight, but when we found ourselves defending against this stranglehold on a practice that has been handed down without restrictions throughout its history — essentially, defending yoga itself — we resolved to take it all the way in service to the greater community. And, we, collectively, won. The question: is a sequence of yoga postures copyrightable? It is clear now that the answer is no.
You can read their press release here.
But it’s not over for them yet. The suit against Evolation also claims “trademark infringement, copyright of the dialogue that accompanies the sequence and a violation of the teacher- certification agreements” and a trial is still scheduled for Jan. 29.
Will this end the debate once and for all?
Have at it 26-ers!
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