'Carlton dance' cannot be copyrighted: U.S. Copyright Office

A copyright registration supervisor said that this "simple routine is not registrable as a choreographic work."

    2019/02/18

NSFW    WASHINGTON — Alfonso Ribeiro's copyright claims for the famous 'Carlton dance' have been denied by the United States Copyright Office, reports The New York Times.

In December, Alfonso Ribeiro, famous for playing Carlton Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, filed a lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive's NBA 2K18 and Epic Games' Fortnite for using his character's signature dance move.

The U.S. Copyright Office has officially denied his copyright claims. The ruling was filed in one of Ribeiro's two lawsuits. Turns out that, just like a short phrase or word, a simple dance move cannot be copyrighted, no matter how famous it is.

A copyright registration supervisor put it very bluntly saying that, "the combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work."

However, it's important to note that a court is not obligated to follow the copyright office's determination, but it will likely take it into consideration.

Ribeiro's lawyer, David L. Hecht, hasn't given up yet. According to him, "It's the same as when you combine notes in a musical composition," and, as such, they should be eligible to have copyright protection under the law.

Hecht also represents rapper 2 Milly and Russell Horning, better known as 'Back-pack Kid'. Both have also filed similar lawsuits for their own dances being featured in Fortnite.

2 Milly's request was also rejected but surprisingly, Horning was able to register a variation of his dance. Hecht said he would ask the copyright office reconsider 2 Milly's and Ribeiro's requests.
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