Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor known to Carlton on Bel-Air's The Fresh Prince TV series, has hit a big stumbling block in his lawsuits against Fortnite and Epic Games, as well as 2K Games and the NBA 2K series. He was denied the copyright of Carlton Dance.
The US Copyright Office Made No Reason
"After reviewing the material deposited for registration, we have to reject the registration [of the dance] because the work submitted for registration is a simple dance routine," it says in one of the Hollywood Reporter uploaded letter (dated January 22). "As such, it can not be registered as a choreographic work."
The keyword is "simple". To register a choreographic work, it must be considerable. Simple routines or social dance moves – think of the basic waltz or second position in ballet – are not defensible.
The US Copyright Office defines the submitted Carlton dance as three steps:
- "The dancer sways her hips as they go from side to side swinging their arms exaggeratedly.
- " The dancer does two Steps to each side while opening and closing her legs and arms.
- "The dancer's feet are standing and you lower one hand from above your head to the center of your chest, flapping your fingers."
"The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registered as a choreographic work can, "repeated the US Copyright Office. "Accordingly, your application for registration will be rejected."
The law firm, which defends both Epic Games and Take-Two / 2K, has responded very quickly.
"This lawsuit suffers from a plethora of issues ranging from a lack of plausible property to a lack of similarity, to the reservation of copyright law," Dale Cendali of Kirkland & Ellis wrote in his Take-Two Defense (from 13th February). "Basically, it contradicts the First Amendment because it seeks to claim liability and thereby suppress creative expression by claiming rights that Plaintiff [Alfonso Ribeiro] does not have and should be dismissed."
Ribeiro is not the only celebrity lawsuit against Fortnite and the NBA 2K series of games. He is a member of Rapper 2 Milly, Backpack Kid and Orange Shirt Kid, all represented by the same law firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht. I am sure that they are thrilled when they have to refer to them with these names.
The idea behind the clutter of litigation is that Price & Hecht needs to gain enough momentum to trigger an out-of-court settlement of Epic and Take-Two to resolve the issue. A nice little earner. But Epic's attorneys, who have been strengthened by the Ribeiro copyright denial, show no sign that they are giving up now.
"Plaintiff's claim [Terrence ‘2 Milly’ Ferguson’s] is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of freedom of expression as it seeks to enforce liability rights that do not exist under the law," wrote Dale Cendali in the defense of Epic (from the 11th of February). "No one can take a dance step."
"Copyright is clear that individual dance steps and simple dance routines are not protected by copyright, but are building blocks of freedom of expression common to choreographers, dancers, and the general public use, perform and enjoy.
Cendali asked to be dismissed.
It's hard to see on which leg Ribeiro now has to move, and also to the other complaints & pike submitted by Price: Maybe they'll be like dominoes crash but they left a trail: Playground Games whipped out the floss and Carlton dance notes from Forza Horizon 4, and I can imagine a similar hesitation freezing other companies The Forza emotes are being restored – the locks are reopening ?