International Feldenkrais Federation Files YouTube Complaint

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I suppose it had to happen eventually – The International Feldenkrais Federation Distribution Center (IFF-DC) filed a claim with YouTube and asked them to take down clips that were posted by Paul Doron and a few others. The clips were of Moshe Feldenkrais at the Amherst Training in the early 1980’s.

I guess its all part of a secret plan to help make Moshe’s work popular, by keeping it a secret? (Apparently, parasitic action takes legal forms as well.)

No One Benefits From Hiding Moshe

Though I understand the desire to protect the copyrights, there does not seem to be a plan by the IFF about how to use the materials for the betterment of the community and to grow the work.

Moshe’s work – all of our work – becomes more powerful and more valuable the more it is known. Is that not obvious in the internet age? Who is a better spokesmen for the method than the man, himself? His ideas – and your ideas – and your student’s ideas – can be broadcast worldwide at the click of a button. And this a bad thing?! Something that we need to protect ourselves from?

According to the IFF website ( one of the purposes of the IFF is:

To collect and archive the legacy of educational materials developed by Moshe Feldenkrais and make this heritage available to all teachers of the Method.(3,4)

Nope. Wrong phrasing. Here’s a more useful one:

To collect and archive and share the legacy of educational materials developed by Moshe Feldenkrais and his students and make this heritage available to all teachers of the Method for the betterment of their practices and the growth of the method.

For any system to develop there needs to be a balance between stability and change. New forms cannot develop from rigid control. Exploring the environment and the options that it holds for action is part and parcel of development. There is no substitute for this type of experience.

Not devising a way for the materials to be shared on the web protects no one – not the original copyright holder, nor the IFF, nor the Guilds and certainly not you or I. The more people see the videos the more they want to try the work. The more they understand the ideas, the more they will want to learn them. Stopping them from being seen stops them from being a catalyst for change.

And again, this does not benefit the original copyright holder, nor the IFF, nor the Guilds and certainly not you or I.

Who then does it benefit?

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15 thoughts on “International Feldenkrais Federation Files YouTube Complaint

  1. Brad Beldner

    Thats why I am studying with Anat Baniel. She is up to date with current science. Has moved the work way forward from where Moshe left. Isn’t glued to the Guilds old curriculum and protocols. Anat and her organization are pushing hard to get the methodology into the mainstream while the the Guild and the IFF are disorganized and barley have any forward movement.

  2. Phoebe MacRae

    I too study with Anat and I was so delighted to see the footage of Moshe onYouTube. I have heard so much about the seemingly mythical Amherst training and it was so nice to get a small glimpse of it and to see and understand the power of Moshe’s presence and also to hear him teaching. It was also wonderful to see my teacher’s teacher. I can’t understand what the guild’s motivation might be.

  3. Josh Schreiber Shalem

    As a certified member of FGNA and as a representative to said guild from the membership, I simply could not agree more. And I know I’m far from being the only one. I understand that it makes sense for much of the material to be under copyright, and that making it available costs money, and therefore a fee for access makes sense. But this sort of behavior is truly cutting off the nose to spite the face!

    From what I’ve heard, the cross-motivation originated with the man himself. Has anyone else heard the story that his studio on Nachmani street didn’t have a window, because he was afraid people would see him and steel his work? Mythological as that story may be, he certainly was the one who chose to call the association he found a “guild”.

    But that doesn’t mean that we, as a community, need to define ourselves that way. But oy, the challenges of changing institutional habits…

  4. Kim

    Ryan, you’ve done a nice job of pointing out the advantages of sharing the work and photos and life of Moshe Feldenkrais and an excellent job of rewording the purpose of the IFF Archive Working Group. I am a little confused about the complaint. I am a former member/volunteer on the Archive Working Group with the Chair of that committee, Richard Ehrman. It was his intention and orientation that whatever could be shared, should be shared. One of the main reasons that there are not more photos up on the IFF site is that there are not enough volunteers to do the work of making that happen and not enough money to continue the digitization of all the materials that exist and are being preserved. Of course, Richard is not alive and the Working Group is in major transition right now, so perhaps the view has changed. It would be really interesting to get the opinions of some of the current Archive Working Group members.

    On a sidenote, I don’t think it helps the conversation to make comparisons between what a solo individual is doing and what an organization is doing. Individuals are nimble and flexible and able to move easily. Organization are sluggish and stable and slow to warm up. You get the idea.

    Let’s also not confuse the IFF, International Feldenkrais Federation, which is made up of ALL the Feldenkrais Guilds world-wide, with the FGNA, The Feldenkrais Guild of North America, which represents the U.S. and Canada.

    Your points are very well taken, our work will be better represented and more appealing if we can share the original works of our founder. Thanks for this post.

  5. Holly

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Ryan. I hope it’s not too late to look 🙂 I wonder if there is any precidence for IFF’s action…who can stop the internet?

    Great points, Kim! We all miss Richard.

  6. Ryan Nagy

    Hi all – Richard Ehrman was my very first Feldenkrais internet coaching client. He was a very fun and very smart guy.

    A friend and I were talking about Anat Baniel recently. He is angry at her for something. Whatever she may be like personally (I don’t know her), her marketing certainly works and she has done a great job branding herself. I really do give her credit for that. And there is room in the universe for others to do the same….

    I understand what the IFF is doing (I think). They have a set of rules they have to follow and they have to “protect” their copyright. But we/they still need a strategy to get the work out there. It really is a law of nature on the internet – the more demand their is for “free” snippets and clips, the more people are interested in buying the products itself. And therein lies another problem – The IFF doesn’t sell to the public. But it would at least stimulate other pracs to buy them…

    cheers! – Ryan

  7. Gail Dee

    I’m an avid student of the Feldenkrais method. I was very disappointed to see these videos blocked on youtube. I was happy to be able to see a small part of who Moshe Feldenkrais is and what he did. @Kim:unfortunately from a public relations point of view the distinction between the IFF and the Guild doesn’t really matter: the public only sees that videos of Moshe Feldenkrais are no longer available on youtube because of the copyright complaint of a Feldenkrais organization. I really dislike the territorial proprietariness involved with the Feldenkrias training as well. I understand it the motivation. Here’s a real life story how competition can helps each other. Years ago, my Dad opened a bar & restaurant in Chicago on a street where two bars already existed. The other bar owners tried to block us from getting a license fearing we would take away clientele but they didn’t succeed. Our place became very popular and as a result brought many new people to the area. The result: everyone thrived and prospered. Today there are 15 bars & restaurants on that same street. I wish the IFF (?) would see the wisdom of that one experience–why not let people see a few minutes of the training? Why not let the public purchase materials? Share the wealth and more people would be “healthier” as a result: both teachers, practitioners, and students.

  8. Richard Coldman

    I am not a practitioner of Feldenkrais Method or it’s derivatives but I have benefited greatly from the work and I can say that I am seriously a fan. It’s my opinion, bluntly stated, that the IFF should be bombarded with shaming messages and told to wake up and taste the coffee. What good is this stuff locked away in an archive when most people still don’t even know what Feldenkrais Method is? Give people a taste of the magic of it. They will want more. Youtube and social media combined could easily provide the tipping point for the Feldenkrais Method to become a household word, and it’s about time that happened.

  9. Rob Black

    Dear friends,

    I am writing to you as the Chair of the IFF-Distribution Center, and on the part of the Board of the International Feldenkrais Federation.

    There has been some discussion online about several excerpts from the Amherst training videos that have appeared on YouTube. The IFF has been reviewing and monitoring the upload of the videos and has acted to inform Youtube that these videos are under the copyright of the IFF and the IFF has requested that the videos be removed. The board of the IFF has also written to the person as follows:

    Dear Mr Doroftei,

    We have noticed that you have posted extracts from the Amherst training and FI videos without permission of either the copyright holder (International
    Feldenkrais Federation) or the people depicted in the videos. We have therefore requested You tube to remove them.

    Whilst the IFF Board of Directors is keen to see the work shared with as many
    people as possible, we request that in future you seek the appropriate
    permissions before posting further materials.

    There are several points to this issue:

    1. The IFF’s first priority is to get materials to practitioners for their own
    learning and development;

    2. The IFF publishes materials through legal agreements with the copyright
    holders, primarily the Feldenkrais family;

    3. Part of the agreements include the responsibility to maintain copyright;

    4. All video materials include the explicit statement, “Copying is strictly

    5. The video recordings at Amherst did not have the kind of release permissions that are current in this day. Consequently we do not have permission to share images of people at Amherst other than Dr. Feldenkrais. This “sharing” includes still stills and video;

    6. We differentiate the distribution of materials for professional learning of
    practitioners from distribution to the public;

    7. We are working on digitising the videos of the Amherst training and FI’s for
    the community of Feldenkrais practitioners; we are close to being done;

    The IFF looks forward to working together with practitioners to find ways to
    excerpt sections of the Amherst videos for the learning of all practitioners.


    Robert Black
    Chair, IFF-Distribution Center

  10. Ryan Nagy

    Rob – Thanks for taking the time to post that information, it is much appreciate. The fact about the permissions was new to me and likely new to other people as well. I believe you are saying that the initial permission to film the video did not include certain rights such as the permission to…? sell to the public? The internet did not exist back then so digital distribution was likely not included (laughter).

    In terms of distributing materials to practitioners. What I have heard and continue to hear from practitioners is that they want some of the material available to the public. Certain video snippets are provocative and intriguing and serve as great introductions to the work, stimulating not only interest but also action as people decide to call a practitioner, purchase products or otherwise get involved in the community.

    I will have some follow-up questions for you, or perhaps you will agree to a interview so we can discuss this?

    Thanks again – Ryan

  11. Kim

    Ryan, it’s turning into a nice conversation, eh? Both here, and on Facebook! It makes so much sense to release enough information about this person who created such an Methodology that the curious and motivated will come to understand why it’s such a powerful body of work.

    Gail, you’re completely right about competition, it’s the Starbucks syndrome. Everywhere there is a Starbucks, there is a small independent coffee shop a block away that is profiting from the Starbucks being there. I have been preaching this to my colleagues in Portland, mostly on deaf ears. Many are afraid of competition, but as far as I can see it usually helps, not hinders, the growth of whatever is involved.

    As for the public relations problem and there being no distinction for the public between the IFF or the FGNA, those comments weren’t directed at the public. They were directed at my colleagues.

    And, it would be wonderful for practitioners to get their hands on the original materials for learning purposes. It would be even more wonderful for us to be able to share some of the tapes of Feldenkrais giving public lessons to the public. I’m with all the folks who want to have more access to him. What if the IFF selected 10 segments/snippets of individual lessons, lectures, and such to release to the public? The lecture on Awareness for example. What if anyone could purchase that? What a beautiful way we could have of introducing new people to this work. What a legitimizing action!!!

  12. Wolfgang

    These youtube videos were the most inspiring about the method. This is really disappointing, not having access to them.

    Greetings from Germany, Wolfgang

  13. Richard Coldman

    Response to Robert Black from a non-practitioner,

    Thank you for your reply. You raise aspects of the situation which help to understand the IFF’s action. I still maintain that whoever holds the copyright to this material is in a position to make this material more broadly available. Taking only the educational needs of the practitioners into account is rather a case of “preaching to the converted”, don’t you think?

    Anyway, I do see that it is not a black and white issue abd your explanation is welcome and appreciated.

  14. Latocha Vladimir

    If my informations are correct the reaction of the IFF was triggered by a concern about some of the videos. Most of us were happy to see excerpts from Amherst but it seems that some of the videos were about the prayer lessons and looked odd even to practictioners. These videos were very easy to misunderstand and we may have been called weirdos before having had a chance to show how practical the lessons are (which means : far from esoteric). So I was disappointed to see all the videos disappear but glad to hear about the primary reason (if I am correct). The means looked like Mariah Carey sueing Napster but it was better to think again before leaving material that was not representative. However, I do support the claim that most of this material should be made available, starting from the discussions and the conference-like parts ! 🙂

  15. Jeri Eaton

    I am a Feldenkrais practitioner and member of the Guild. My husband and I also have a television production company, he’s a producer/director who’s been in the business for 35+ years. For the past 20 years he’s worked primarily, though not exclusively, for PBS on their high-end national and international documentaries. Because much of his work has been music shows, dozens of clips from his shows have been posted on youtube (not by us), all of it copyrighted and none of it with permission. His attitude – and that of most performers and other producers – is that postings on youtube rather than being a negative actually benefit all concerned.
    Program producers across the country are now realizing that, irrespective of the legalities of release forms and copyrights, anything that brings added attention to a program or subject is beneficial. Networks like PBS are now accepting the reality of unauthorized youtube postings because it helps spread the word about programs. There is also a general recognition that it is impossible to get permission for video shot over 20 years ago and that it shouldn’t stop the dissemination of this information.

    While it can be argued that the IFF has a legal responsibility to object to the youtube postings if an entity as large as PBS is willing to tolerate this because of the ‘greater good’, then IFF might do the same. Also note that because the IFF did not post the video they are not responsible for any lack of release forms or liable for any copyright infringement. They don’t have to condone it, they just have to stay out of the way.

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