'Hot yoga' founder loses fight to copyright poses

2015-10-20 18:41
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

San Francisco - A California appeals court has ruled against the infamous multi-millionaire yogi and founder of 'hot' yoga, Bikram Choudhury, ending his decade-long legal battle to copyright his sequence of yoga poses in a heated room.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw described Bikram's sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises as an idea, process or system designed to improve health and to "yield physical benefits and a sense of wellbeing. Copyright protects only the expression of this idea - the words and pictures used to describe the sequence - and not the idea of the sequence itself."

Personal wealth

In simple terms, this means 69-year-old Bikram has copyright over his books and DVDs and other expressions of his work, but not the exercise itself.

It's a victory for the yoga community and a slap in the face for the self-styled guru, who appeared to some as being more interested in amassing personal wealth and recognition than staying true to the essence of yoga.

Bikram is a character: He claims to have magical powers making him irresistible to women.

He's facing a number of lawsuits by women who claim he sexually harassed or raped them- charges he denies.

Judge Wardlaw added that "although there is no cause to dispute the many health, fitness, spiritual and aesthetic benefits of yoga, and Bikram Yoga in particular, they do not bring the sequence into the realm of copyright protection."

Sequence of poses

Intellectual property experts agree that Bikram stretched copyright law too far.

Had he been awarded intellectual property rights over his sequence, there would be nothing stopping others from copyrighting routine or specialised physical movements, such as brushing one's teeth or performing a surgery, as forms of dance or choreography. 

This case was not so much about who owns yoga, but whether yoga can be owned at all - whether it can be copyrighted as an expression of intellectual property.

In this latest case, the court rejected Bikram's claims that his sequence of poses constituted a choreographed compilation and entitled him to copyright protection.

The wider yoga community agrees that Bikram stopped being a yogi when he tried to own yoga.


Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.