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Big News: Federal Court Rules Bikram Can Not Copyright Asana Sequence

in Business of Yoga, YD News

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!

[via]

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10 comments… add one

  • Jacqueline Carini

    Who the hell does Bikram think he is??? It never fails… there is always some pompas ass egotistical guy trying to to take something wonderful and beautiful and taint it with all this human bullshit!!! True YOGA, always was n always will be.. it lives inside us all… and for this jerk to try to taint the very nature of something so beautiful and pure is absolutely rediculus!!! I’m so glad that the court rules in favor of the yoga community n not an ass like Bikrim!!!! Namaste… Bikram should remember that… n the Indra net of Jewels!!!! Yoga for the people!!!

  • William

    Y so angry? Om

  • Jacqueline Carini

    Not angry… Just a little brash so sometimes people take me wrong.. I’m passionate and speak with emotion and I think u misunderstood my disgust for anger. All emotions come from God and even anger is sometimes appropriate.. The key.. Is to feel the right emotion, at the right time, for the right reason, to the right degree, and for the right duration. And that is a skill i’ve cultivated well and continue to train daily. The vast variety of emotions color our world and learning how to engage with proper emotion is important… Black people wouldn’t be free n women would have the standings they do if people never got angry… Anger.. At the appropriate thing and To the right degree can change the world!!! Anger is not the issue.. Its the actions of the angry where the problem lies. Will u be angry n try to make change or be angry and add to the problem!?!?!? I say change!!! :-) NAMASTE

  • David

    Anger and ignorance are the source of so much pain in the world , why demonstrate both so freely ….breathe.

  • Honomann

    Merry Christmas Bikram,

    Judge Otis

  • Garuda

    Speedo?…Check
    Headband?…Check
    Headset?…Check
    Ego?…Check, Check
    Supersized Bikram Bulge for Speedo?… Check
    $8,000,000.oo…Check
    Ownership of “YOGA”…TBD

  • Garuda

    “Supersized Bikram Bulge…(tm)

  • I love seeing Right Reason prevail, especially when it comes to people like Bikram who admitted publicly that he is essentially in it for the money. Shame on you, Bikram. You can go home now.

  • Sai Kumar Reddy

    This is most certainly good news. I wish more studios would offer Bikram style or more rather the Bishnu Ghosh style of yoga where you do each pose twice and hold a pose at least 30 seconds or more. Also do away with the heated room, it is just too painful. The sequence though is great, not as demanding/painful as the Ashtanga series but still giving a very good workout overall.

  • PayNoMind

    You should probably just do do Ghosh yoga yourself and do away with doing Bikram or Ashtanga or whatever else. Since obviously you do not enjoy a certain style of intensity of yoga/meditation.

    You probably didn’t need the heat to motivate you to go back to have a good sweat, nor were you a perfectionist ballet-person that needed ashtanga to give you the push into your spiritual direction.

    However, there are people that enjoy the meditative aspect of the bikram or ashtanga consistency as well as the intensity along with them.

    http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Body-Origins-Posture-Practice/dp/0195395344

    It was a time of “health-ism”. It spawned the body of physical yoga we have to-day.

    For Bikram to solidify his style as a trade-mark brand is, in a way, to make his mark along the lineage and call this the end of the evolution…but then yoga has transformed from naked man sitting in caves into lulu-wearing housewives stretching in high-end studio spaces….

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