Yoga poses and sequences of poses are exercises and not subject
to copyright law protection, announced the United States Copyright
Office recently. "Exercise is not a category of
authorship in section 102 and thus a compilation of exercises would
not be copyrightable subject matter," according to the
Office's statement of policy. The policy made clear that
the selection and arrangement of otherwise uncopyrightable matter
is not subject to copyright protection.
Under Section 102 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §
102(a), works of authorship that can be protected by copyright law
are limited to:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
Section 102 also prohibits copyright protection for compilations
that amount "to any idea, procedure, process, system, method
of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the
form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied
in such work." 17 U.S.C. § 102(b).
The policy explains
"[W]hile such a functional system or process may be
aesthetically appealing, it is nevertheless uncopyrightable subject
matter. A film or description of such an exercise routine or simple
dance routine may be copyrightable, as may a compilation of
photographs of such movements. However, such a copyright will not
extend to the movements themselves, either individually or in
combination, but only to the expressive description, depiction, or
illustration of the routine that falls within a section 102(a)
category of authorship."
To read the Copyright Office's full Statement of Policy,
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