Alfonso Ribeiro sure can move, but the Copyright office doesn't see anything registerable about it. This ruling further imperils Ribeiro's claim that Epic Games 'Fortnite' has stolen from him.
The US Copyright Office refused to register The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro's "Carlton dance" routine, likely weakening lawsuits against two game studios that copied the dance. In new legal filings, Take-Two Interactive produced letters and emails from the Copyright Office, showing serious concern over whether the dance qualified for copyright protection and, if it could, whether Ribeiro even owned the rights.
Ribeiro sued Take-Two for copying the Carlton dance, which he created while playing Fresh Prince character Carlton Banks, for a celebratory dance gesture in NBA 2K. He's also filed a lawsuit against Epic Games, which used a version of the Carlton dance in Fortnite. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Take-Two filed a defense earlier this week, asking a judge to dismiss the case. It argues that Banks' dance is too basic to be protected by copyright, which only covers more complex "choreography."
A letter from the Copyright Office backs up that argument — at least, for one of three dance variations that Ribeiro submitted. The letter calls his submission "a simple routine made up of three dance steps" and refuses registration. "The fact that a dance or movement may contain more than a trivial amount of original authorship is irrelevant," it reads. In other words, even if Ribeiro's dance was unique and distinctive, it's not protected by copyright.