A few months after actor Alfonso Ribeiro filed a lawsuit against Epic Games for the use of his signature “Carlton Dance” as an emote in the widely popular Fortnite, the actor has been denied the copyright to the dance by the U.S. Copyright Office. Thus, this deals significant harm to Ribeiro’s case against the company due to the actor suing Epic Games for copyright infringement.
In a letter sent on January 22 to Ribiero’s attorney from the U.S. Copyright Office’s supervisory registration specialist Saskia Florence, explained the reasoning why Ribeiro’s claim for copyright was rejected. Florence stated that the “Carlton Dance” is considered just “a simple dance routine,” and, due to this, the dance “is not registrable as a choreographic work” even if there is some form of authorship to it. This is because the current copyright law wasn’t put into place “to protect all forms of dance or movement” specifically simple routines and social dances.
In the letter, Florence even breaks down the dance into three simplified steps.
“The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner.”
“the dancer takes two steps to each side while opening and closing their legs and their arms in unison.”
“the dancer’s feet are still and they lower one hand from above their head to the middle of their chest while fluttering their fingers.”
Thus, since the “Carlton Dance” can be simplified so easily, the U.S. Copyright Office denied Ribeiro’s attempt to copyright the dance.
Ribeiro isn’t the only celebrity to bring lawsuits against the popular video game developer recently. The law firm representing Ribeiro is also representing rappers 2 Milly and BlocBoy JB along with the “internet famous” Backpack Kid against Epic Games for the same reason. However, the company is trying to get 2 Milly’s lawsuit dismissed. This ruling against Ribeiro may give Epic Games a better chance against these lawsuits or at least get a ruling in the company’s favor.