Alfonso Ribeiro's Fortnite lawsuit against Epic hits a roadblock, U.S. Copyright Office denies copyright for the Carlton Dance

Looks like there's been a major setback for celebrities aiming to get some compensation from Epic for their Fortnite emotes.

Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, best known as Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was suing Epic over their inclusion of the 'Carlton Dance' in Fortnite. Ribeiro claimed he invented the dance, and Epic was profiting off of his creation without offering him any payment.

Plans for the lawsuit moving ahead have now been stifled due to a setback with the U.S. Copyright Office. The office has told Mr. Ribeiro that his claim has been denied, as you can't copyright his specific dance. Their official statement is as follows.

“The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.”

Other celebrities aiming to get compensation for their dances are likely going to be in the same boat here, which potentially means Epic won't have to worry about any further lawsuits on the matter.

Categories: Consoles
Tags: eshop, switch
Games: Fortnite


Yeah, I think that all sounds about right to me.

Im surprised he lost the suit. They even called the dance the fresh.

He was always going to lose it. By his own admission he stole it from Courtney Cox's performance in a music video, for Springsteen I think. All Epic's lawyers would have had to do is point out the fact that it is a derivative in and of itself and that would have weakened Ribeiro's case considerably. Fact of the matter is that he's had decades to copyright the dance, never has and just tried to jump on a gravy train. This was never going to work for him, people with real knowledge on copyright and trademark laws were saying as such as soon as the initial lawsuits were filed. Whether or not anyone is successful will depend entirely upon the complexity of the dances being used.

Oh, it's definitely based on the Carlton Dance. Heck, it just straight-up is the Carlton Dance But the problem lies with what that quote points out:

The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.
You just can't copyright a simple dance step like that. Full choreography/dances are possible, but not a simple dance move

Well how many steps defines full choreograph. All the other dances losing I can see, but this is famous around the world.

Well, I don't know the very specifics, but usually there's a huge difference between a whole dance routine (which is typically several minutes long or even longer when we look at something like the Swan Lake) and a dance step (which is typically just several seconds long).

And it absolutely is famous around the world where Fresh Prince aired. But just because it's famous doesn't mean it can be copyrighted

This makes me think even less of him. There are lots of games that have used "The Carlton" over the years but I guess because they didn't become household names the way Fortniite did, he didn't think there was any money to be made.

I know in Astro Bot, a PlayStation VR game (a fantastic one I might add), the little robots you rescue will dance at the end of each stage and one of them does "The Carlton" and another one does "The Floss" (or whatever it's called).


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