On June 18, 2012, the Copyright Office issued a Statement of Policy by which it announced that “functional physical movements such as sports movements, exercises, and other ordinary motor activities alone” are not works of authorship protected under United States copyright law. So now, yoga routines and positions, exercise routines, sports moves, simple dance steps, and other BASIC functional, physical activities cannot legitimately be subject to a claim of copyright protection.
But be very wary in this area. Choreography still can be subject to copyright protection, and it can be difficult to draw the line between unprotected simple dance steps and exercise routines, and protected choreography. Moreover, photographs, drawings or pictures of dance steps, yoga routines or exercise moves might be protectible. And the Copyright Office’s Statement of Policy only applies to copyright protection – other forms of intellectual property protection may still apply. For example, the terms “Zumba” and “Bikram Yoga” may be entitled to strong trademark protection.