Bikram Revisited

While definitely not my favorite subject, I felt I should write something here regarding an article I read this morning relating to the whole Bikram copyright controversy.  The article does a good job of summing up the case against the copyright as I’ve already described and notes that settlement talks are scheduled to happen today.

OSYU in essence is asking the court to rule that Choudhury’s copyright claims are unenforceable because they are based on yoga positions and practices that have been in use for literally thousands of years and thus are in the public domain, Harrison said. The group has adopted that mantra of the open source software movement that any technology or practice that is in the public domain can be freely used, Harrison said.

OSYU won the opening round of the litigation in April 2004 when Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected the motion of Choudhury’s attorney that the case should be dismissed because OSYU lacked the legal standing to pursue its lawsuit.

Both sides are scheduled to meet Monday to try to negotiate a settlement before the case goes to trial, Harrison said. He declined to comment on the prospects of a settlement.

by John Pallatto, Case Studies at CIOInsight

Although settlement talks are happening, I would be surprised if a settlement actually happens unless Bikram drops the copyright issue.  This statement from the article seems to back that notion

Harrison [lawyer for OSYU] expressed confidence that OSYU had a strong case to counter Choudhury’s copyright claims.

by John Pallatto, Case Studies at CIOInsight

Mr. Harrison then shreds my own dance choreography comparison.

The closest legal parallel to what Choudhury is attempting would be a someone who copyrighted a dance choreography, Harrison suggested.

Dance choreography could be copyrighted, But dance "is expressive art. [Yoga] is exercise not expression. It is not saying anything," Harrison said. Therefore it can’t be copyrighted under the law, he said.

by John Pallatto, Case Studies at CIOInsight

Put that way, copyrighting a sequence of asanas is just like copyrighting a weighlifting routine and so would not be allowed under copyright law regardless.