Asteya Redux: A Grumpy Post

In a peculiar circumstance, we have the opportunity to revisit the concept of asteya that Alan Little introduced in our post about the Krishnmacharya and Iyengar videos on YouTube (non-stealing for those of you not fluent in Sanskrit).

It seems that Drishti’s June 2006 newsletter (89k PDF version here) features an article that is eerily similar to Philippe’s – ahem – original article that he thought of all by himself where he compares yoga styles using Google Trends. Remember that one? It was published on May 15, 2006.


I hope Disney doesn’t
come after us!
(from FreilingerFamily
via Flickr)

I don’t mind others copying and altering our ideas, but it would be nice to be credited for coming up with the ideas, and that is not the case in this newsletter. I have to say, I am a little irritated. Ashtanga is primarily about being a kinder person and developing greater magnanimity, and that’s obviously my challenge even as I write this post.

Perhaps we need to move our Creative Commons license a little higher on the page?

Some of the unfortunate details:

  • Philippe compares yoga, pilates, meditation and stretching, while Drishti compares yoga, pilates, aerobics and exercise.
  • Philippe compares Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, vinyasa and Anusara, while Drishti compares Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Anusara and Kundalini.
  • Philippe compares yoga to Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina and Beatles, while Drishti does not compare any style of yoga to any celebrities. Where’s their sense of humor? :)

Drishti draws surprisingly similar conclusions – specifically the New Year’s effect and the appearance of Anusara in 2005. Ahem.


I suspect people are actually searching on Grumpy, the dwarf.

I do feel compelled to mention that for those of you who like YogaBeans! (our May 1 post is here), Drishti’s June newsletter does contain a little bio of its creator, Elastigirl, which you can read in the PDF linked above.

So to continue the storm in the teacup, am I right in thinking this may be an incident of “asteya”? If not, how would you characterize it?

4 thoughts on “Asteya Redux: A Grumpy Post

  1. Lauren

    Hi Tracy…So, here is the deal, according to me, a former intellectual property lawyer: he took your idea, but not the creative expression of it. Unfortunately, ideas are not really protected (other than under patent law, and this does not fall under that). Only the expression of the idea is protected. And Drishte didn’t really take your (excellent!) expression of the ideas, just the ideas themselves.

    As far as Asteya is concerned, I suppose that it may feel like he took something from you that doesn’t belong to him, but he really just got an idea from you and ran with it. It would have been nice if he had said that he got the idea from your website. But is it possible that he thought of it himself? It is possible for two authors to simultaneously come up with the same subject matter. I don’t know the exact circumstances here, so it is hard to know whether this might have happened.

    In reality, there is quite a bit of borrowing going on in our little blog world. I might write about X and then seeing X, someone might think of something they wish to write about X. Many of us posted nearly identical photos of ourselves at the feet of Guruji, as another example. And there’s me in U.D. on your sidebar, and then there may be a nearly identical photo of someone else in UD on your sidebar later. That doesn’t mean that they took my idea of photographing myself in UD. How about “Top 10 Lists”….ultimately, they all came from David Letterman….but no one attributes that.

    In this case, Phillipe worked hard on a clever and interesting article, and then someone else who may or may not have read that article, decided to run their own take on it in their newsletter. It might upset you guys not to receive any attribution, but I don’t think that he necessarily had to give you attribution….Google Trends is intended to be used for exactly what Phillipe used it for. It should’t be surprising that someone else would use it for nearly the identical analysis. Right?

    Sorry…I would imagine this is not what you were hoping to hear…

    Keep up the good work with the original articles!


  2. tracy

    Ha ha! It’s nice to hear that my grumpiness was effectively expressed in my writing…

    Agreed, Lauren, for the most part. Copyright violation: no I wouldn’t say that…and yes, there is a lot of going round and round on the web, but attribution I still think is nice, which we try to do. The key is the combination of similar conclusions, timing, analysis AND writing (organization) style…

    Regarding the photos on the sidebar, clicking on them takes the user direct to the relevant page on Flickr.

    And of course, it is possible that the writer happened upon the same idea nearly simultaneously, but highly unlikely.

    That said, here is the the response from Drishti…

    “I was actually unaware of your blog and your Google Trends post until you e-mailed me just now. (Although I do think it’s a very nice and informative blog, BTW!) My fiance is an academic sociologist, and he was alerted to the existence of Google Trends upon its release weeks ago via a Social Network Analysis listserve. He used Google Trends to analyze many different terms, including yoga-related ones. (He is a yoga practitioner himself.) When he showed me what he had done, I naturally thought that it would be a perfect item of interest for our next newsletter.

    I actually don’t think that running a Google Trends analysis on different styles of yoga is a very original idea. I’m sure that thousands of yoga practitioners across the country have done just that, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Yoga Journal article pop up mentioning this very same topic. Google Trends is a tool available for the public’s use, and anyone with any practice or hobby will probably use it to explore search terms relating to their interest.

    Thanks and keep up with the good work on Ashtanga News! I’ll definitely check your blog for an interesting take on Ashtanga happenings.”

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