Bikram Yoga Guru Reaches Settlement in Copyright Suit.
There are many different reasons why you should register your original creative content, e.g., books, articles, photographs, jewelry, music, web content, video, blog posts, and more.
Without a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, you have little to no chance of even bringing a lawsuit, let alone winning your case. Even if you could sue, it would cost you a fortune to prove that the copyrighted work in question is, in fact, yours. Whether you are initiating a copyright infringement lawsuit or defending one, if your work is unprotected (not registered), you have a steeper mountain to climb.
In a recent copyright suit, Bikram Choudhury, one of the world’s most successful yoga gurus and a pioneer of “hot yoga,” reached a settlement he brought against former protégé Greg Gumucio for teaching his copyrighted sequence of yoga poses.
Copyright Protection for Choreography.
In the 1970’s, Choudhury was among the first leading yogis to trademark his name and protect his yoga routine by copyright.
In a joint statement to “Nightline,” Choudhury and rival Gumucio said they have agreed that starting in February Gumucio’s Yoga To The People studios located in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Berkeley, will no longer teach the sequence of 26 Asana poses and dialogue known as Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class.
“Here you have this traditional knowledge that’s been around for 5,000 years and there was kind of a run on the bank,” Gumucio told “Nightline” in a recent interview. “It’s kind of like if Arnold Schwarzenegger said I’m going to do five bench presses, six curls, seven squats, call it ‘Arnold’s Work’ and nobody can show that or teach that without my permission. That’s crazy to me.”
The U.S. Copyright Office appeared receptive to Gumucio’s argument, clarifying earlier this year that while choreography can be copyrighted that might not be the case for choreography that claims to have medical benefits.
On November 29th a settlement was reached, then approved and posted by a U.S. federal district judge in Los Angeles. In exchange for Gumucio agreeing no longer to teach Choudhury’s yoga routine, Choudhury agreed to drop the suit.
Benefits of Copyright Protection.
This case highlights the benefits of taking the necessary steps to protect what’s yours. And a copyright registration attorney can help you with:
- Creating a copyrightable work.
- Advise you about the need for proper notice.
- Help you determine which form to use.
- Help you decide whether you should actually register your copyrighted work with the US Copyright Office, and if so, how to go about doing it.
You have worked too hard not to protect your intellectual property – don’t wait until it’s too late!
Until next time, I’m Copyright & Trademark Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours!
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