Bikram Choudhury's YOGA SEQUENCE cannot be copyrighted; U.S. Appeals Court

Bikram Choudhury

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury's sequence of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises, cannot be copy righted.

The Court was hearing an appeal filed by Choudhury against a lower court decision in which he sued two persons who took his training course and then founded their own business instructing the same yoga technique.

“We must decide whether a sequence of twenty-six yoga poses and two breathing exercises developed by Bikram Choudhury and described in his 1979 book, Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, is entitled to copyright protection. This question implicates a fundamental principle underlying constitutional and statutory copyright protection—the idea/expression dichotomy. Because copyright protection is limited to the expression of ideas, and does not extend to the ideas themselves, the Bikram Yoga Sequence is not a proper subject of copyright protection.”

“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. The Sequence falls squarely within Section 102(b)’s exclusions from copyright protection, no matter how it is labelled or how ably the label is argued. Therefore, the district court properly granted Evolation’s motion for partial summary judgment” wrote Judge Wardlaw for the Three Judges Bench

Read the full text of the opinion here