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Netflix faces copyright battle over controversial ‘Bikram’ documentary

Colleges claim that footage was used without permission

Netflix is facing a copyright battle with yoga colleges after claims that they used material without permission for new documentary Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator.

The film, which documents the alleged sexual, racial and verbal abuse committed by yoga master Bikram Choudhury, uses old footage from inside yoga classes.

Ghosh’s Yoga College, where Choudhury trained, is now claiming that Netflix used footage and photographs in the documentary belonging to them without permission.

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Ida Jo, Ambassador for Ghosh’s Yoga College, told Metro: “For the past four years, I have worked hand in hand with Ghosh’s Yoga College as one of only three people who have permission to use family specific photos and material to preserve the legacy of Bishnu Charan Ghosh.

“They trust me to represent them around the world. When the production team reached out to me to get photos and materials for their new film about Bikram Choudhury, I relayed this information to the Ghosh family.

“They said they had no interest in being involved. I told the filmmakers ‘No’. For the filmmakers, that no seemed to be a yes. Despite explicitly telling the producers they would need permission to use materials owned by Ghosh’s Yoga College, including photos and the contents of Yoga Cure, they used them anyway.”

‘Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator’ CREDIT: Netflix

The college added in a statement: “Netflix has blatantly violated copyrights of Yoga Cure Book by using extracts and photos from the book and also their unapproved use of Ghosh’s Yoga College and Ghosh family photos.

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“We demand such materials are removed from the documentary film, which they have taken without permission, and that a public apology is issued by all involved in this blatant act of copyright theft.”

Additionally, Calcutta Yoga author Jerome Armstrong is claiming Netflix used material without permission.

“In addition to appropriating photographic images from Calcutta Yoga in seven instances (for which they had no permission), based on my interactions with the production and research team, it is also clear the producers appropriated narrative content and research, which they first encountered as original research in Calcutta Yoga, for the basis of their historical depiction,” he said.

“No attribution or acknowledgement of Calcutta Yoga is found anywhere in the documentary.”

The film, which runs for 90 minutes, alleges abusive methods towards those who took Choudhary’s classes. The yoga master has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

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