The Supreme Court Has The Last Dance

Interesting development to my blog post from last month regarding copyright of dance moves that appeared in video games.  For more information read the prior blog.

On March 4th of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people must complete their registration with the Copyright Office before they could sue for copyright infringement. Because of this ruling, the lawsuits against the maker of Fortnite, Epic Games, have been dropped. The lawsuits were over use of certain dance emotes in the game.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp v was a “game changer.”  Previously plaintiffs could file copyright infringement lawsuits as soon as they applied for registration with the Copyright Office. Now, they need to wait for the Copyright Office to act on their application before filing suit.

Ribeiro (Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air), claimed his dance moves called the Carlton, was being used in a video game without compensation. His claim was denied by the Copyright Office. They stated the Carlton, was only a “simple dance routine” and couldn’t be copyrighted.

A registered copyright is not required to sue for copyright infringement. However, following the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, the Copyright Office must now, at least, finish processing a registration request before someone can file a lawsuit.

Because of this, the attorney for Ribeiro and others he represented, stated his clients have dismissed their current lawsuits, but may refile them later.

If you would like to read more on copyright practices, visit

You’ll find the Copyright Law of the United States here and an interesting draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices.


By rcll

March 28, 2019

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