Alfonso Ribeiro, star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has seen his copyright request for the “Carlton” dance turned down, reports Variety. Ribeiro recently filed suit against Fortnite developer Epic Games and publisher Take-Two Interactive for using the dance in their explosively popular game.
The U.S. Copyright Office issued the denial on Wednesday, dismissing the lawsuit against Take-Two. According to Variety, the document states that “the three moves that make up the ‘Carlton’ are not a piece of choreography.” It is considered a simple dance routine, rendering it not protected under copyright law. In a letter to Ribeiro’s law firm, the U.S. Copyright Office explained that in this particular case, the amount of the dance being used was irrelevant to the central argument.
The courts state that it’s not clear whether Alfonso Ribeiro could be granted any copyright because he may not be its only creator, or it may belong to the TV network it was originally performed on. Epic Games are using this argument to make the case that their motion against their emote “Fresh” “should be dismissed.”
Ribeiro’s case goes all the way back to December when the actor first filed his lawsuits against Take-Two and Epic. He claimed that the video game companies took the dance without his permission and monetized it in their games without granting compensation. The “Carlton” dance originated in a 1991 episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His lawsuit states that the dance is part of his celebrity persona. Ribeiro often performs the dance on television shows and many other media appearances.
— PlayStation LifeStyle by Mandatory (@PSLifeStyle) February 15, 2019
Rapper Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson and internet personality Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning are also suing Epic Games for copying and monetizing their dance moves, the “Milly Rock” and “The Floss,” respectively. Epic Games filed a motion to dismiss 2 Milly’s lawsuit as well. According to a document posted by the Hollywood Reporter, the claim is dismissed, as the “Swipe It” emote is too simple to fall under copyright and is not the same as 2 Milly’s “Milly Rock.” The court document compares the copyright issue to that of “words and short phrases” which are also not protected, stating “individual movements or dance steps by themselves are not copyrightable.”
2 Milly has argued that his likeness is being used without his permission. Epic countered by saying, “he has not fought in a battle royale using weapons to kill opponents.”
On March 18, a hearing will be held concerning the motion to dismiss Ribeiro’s lawsuit.