Chances are you’ve heard of Bikram Yoga, AKA hot yoga, AKA shit that makes you sweat bullets.
What you might not know is that THIS guys is its founder, or at least ‘popularised’ the 26-pose sequence that’s commonly taught in Bikram classes around the world.
Dude has a lot of money. He’s also got a lot of sexual assault allegations to his name, which he’s vehemently denied, but that’s another story.
Today, Bikram Choudhury is making headlines for another reason: he tried to copyright his yoga poses and the courts delivered him a steely NOPE.
The legal battle has been going on for a while actually, starting in 2011, when Choudhury tried to sue a Californian yoga studio for copyright infringement, but realised he had no leg to stand on. In 2003, he also tried to stop a San Franciscan group called “Open Source Yoga Utility” from performing his routine without his express permission/licensing fees.
Probably realising how much dosh he was losing out on, Choudhury attempt to get a copyright for his prized poses, which he’d earlier published in a book in 1979.
The Court’s ruling below…
“In this case we need no decide whether to adopt the Copyright Office’s definition of “choreographic work”…The Sequence is not copyrightable as a choreographic work for the same reason that it is not copyrightable as a compilation: it is an idea, process,or system to which copyright protection may“[i]n no case” extend. 17 U.S.C.§102(b).
We recognize that the Sequence may involve“static and kinetic successions of bodily movement in certain rhythmic and spatial relationships.” Compendium II,§ 450.01. So too would a method to churn butter or drill for oil. That is no accident: “successions of bodily movement”often serve basic functional purposes. Such movements do not become copyrightable as “choreographic works” when they are part and parcel of a process. Even if the Sequence could fit within some colloquial definitions of dance or choreography, it remains a process ineligible for copyright protection.”
Tl;dr? Here’s a summary:
Yoga poses aren’t copyrightable, because that would make any kind of bodily movement like churning butter or drilling for oil an act that could be owned.
KARMA’S A BITCH, but this probably isn’t the last we’ll hear from Choudury, who spews quotes like these on the reg:
“I have balls like atom bombs, two of them, 100 megatons each. Nobody fucks with me.”
Images Via Getty/Bob Riha Jr.