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Copyright Battle of the Yogis: ‘Hot Yoga’ Settlement Reached

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Yoga by RelaxingMusic on Flickr

Yoga by RelaxingMusic on Flickr

In the case of teacher versus student, Greg Gumucio has agreed to stop using world-renowned yogi Bikram Choudhury’s “hot yoga” routine in his New York studios.

Choudhury had sued his former student alleging the copyright infringement of his sequence of 26 yoga poses taught in a 90-minute course in a 105-degree room, a system commonly called “hot yoga.” Gumuchio taught ‘Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class,’ but now that he has agreed to stop offering the course, Choudhury has agreed to drop the lawsuit.

Choudhury has both trademarked his name and copyrighted his yoga routine, but Gumucio argued that Choudhury should not have been able to copyright the yoga poses in the first place, calling “crazy” the idea that someone could lay claim to “traditional knowledge that’s been around for 5,000 years.”

Choudbury, on the other hand, feels that Gumucio is the one who got “greedy” after having been given the “gift” of Choudbury’s Seattle location, and fought to keep his copyrighted yoga sequence from being used without his permission; the original lawsuit sought $1 million in damages.

ABC News notes that the U.S. Copyright Office may actually lean toward Gumucio’s position on this issue with a recent declaration that choreography that is touted as having medical benefits may not be copyrightable.

Ordinarily, dance choreography is subject to copyright.

What do you think about this battle of the yogis? Should Choudhury’s copyright be revoked or, if it should remain intact, do you think Choudhury should simply be more flexible and allow Gumucio and others to teach “hot yoga?”

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December 7th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Intellectual Property

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