A recent 9th circuit Court of Appeals ruling determined that Bikram Yoga’s regimented exercise routine is not protected by copyright.
The determined that it was not copyrightable as a compilation or a choreographed work. The court held that the yoga poses encompassing Bikram is “an idea, process or system to which copyright protection may “[i]n no case” extend.” Essentially, the 9th circuit determined that the sequence of yoga poses fall within Section 102(b)’s exclusions from copyright protection.
The court makes the distinction between expression of ideas and the ideas themselves. The latter is not copyrightable while the former might be. The analogy utilized by the court here is that of a book describing a book-keeping system. While the book might be subject to copyright laws, the actual system for book-keeping would not.
The opinion negated arguments by Bikram that its sequence of poses, which were first published in a book, were transformative into copyrightable material. While the actual book is subject to copyright laws, the court determined that the actual poses and sequence are not.
The case is Bikram’s Yoga College of India L.P. and Bikram Choudhury v. Evolation Yoga LLC, et al.
In an interesting opinion which may have many of us reminisce about our childhood TV habits, a federal judge in New York ruled that a Broadway play, “3C,” did not infringe on the copyright of the famed TV sitcom “Three’s Company.” The ruling noted that the play was a “drastic departure” from the TV show.
While it was clear the play was based on the ABC sitcom featuring John Ritter as a heterosexual male disguising himself as gay in order to room with two women. The play, which appeared to be a dark comedy per the excerpts in the court opinion, ended a two-month run off-Broadway to tempered reviews.
The Court determined that the play was a “highly transformative parody of the television series.” The opinion reflects the ongoing struggle with the concept of “Fair Use” in copyright law. Fair Use is an exception to use a copyrighted work of one with an exclusive right. The doctrine has been widely criticized by scholars for its “undisciplined” and “unwieldy” application by courts. We are not saying that the 3C ruling was undisciplined or unwieldy, but it reflects the broad interpretation of courts.