The use of iconic dance moves in popular videogames has become a point of debate in recent months, and that includes Alfonso Ribeiro’s iconic ‘Carlton’ routine.
Earlier in 2018, Alfonso Ribeiro took legal action against Epic Games regarding the use of The Carlton as an in-game emote in Fortnite.
“The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work,” explains Saskia Florence, a specialist in the Copyright Office’s Performing Arts Division.
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According to Florence, a copyrighted work must be more comprehensive, including “a related series of dance movements and patterns […] into an integrated, coherent, and expressive whole.”
So, it appears that brief dance routines that only take a matter of seconds to bust out aren’t substantial enough to warrant copyright ownership, which is where Ribeiro has been left out in the cold.
The suit is yet to conclude and isn’t necessarily doomed for Ribeiro, and it will be interesting to see how it develops from here and defines how popular dance routines are used in gaming going forward.
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