"Fresh Prince" Star Sues Fortnite for Stealing Carlton Dance

Megalith

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Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for playing Carlton Banks opposite Will Smith in popular ‘90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” is suing Epic Games for stealing the “Carlton Dance” and turning it into an emote for battle-royale darling Fortnite. The lawsuit has prompted inquiries into whether Fornite can really be sued for “stealing” dance moves, and legal experts suggest it would be an uphill battle: “it is difficult to prove ownership of a dance because so many components may have been drawn from, or heavily inspired by, previous works.”

Alfonso's attorney, David Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, tells us, "It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite." He continues, "Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like “Fresh.” Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."
 

GMcDougal

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My guess is they settle out of court quickly. Epic has made so much money off Fortnite that they just want this to go away
 

jmaker

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The Division has the same emote and they actually call it the Carlton.
 

nightanole

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Hes said it twice in the last decade that he stole it from an eddie murphy skit. On top of that if he wants to claim it, he would have had to make the dance intentional, and had it documented with the planned choreography etc to back it up.

Right now its like if tony hawk pulled the mother of all tricks by accident, and is bitching that fortnite stole his moves.

In other news, i think you can be sued for doing "the happy gilmore" in a golf game, because it was written before hand.
 

jojo69

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I think they all have good cases and will probably prevail. Epic was unadvisedly brazen in calling it "fresh", and the scrubs dance is clearly a straight up rip.

I am torn, however. We all have the same limbs and joints, there are only so many ways to move them. We have to be careful here.
 

Shmee

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Does he even "own" the dance? It was performed on the show, so I would think the studio would own the rights to it.
He does indeed, and due to the nature of the show (hiring musicians and dancers as actors), songs and choreography performed on the show belong to the performers. Believe it or not he is a well known dancer and a choreographer in real life, and to be a dance that you can copyright it needs three moves, which this has, and be captured on fixed media with a timestamp, which this was. Epic even named the dance "Fresh", so while I am not sure he will win, it isn't completely baseless. Dance is a form of art, and art can be copyrighted in all its forms. Here is the quick legalzoom.com description: https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/how-to-copyright-a-dance
 

c3k

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Carlton stole it from me. I have 8mm video showing my moves. Alexa took the frames and sent them back in time to Carlton.

Ima gonna sue him if he gets any winnings.
 

mnewxcv

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So if I posted a video on YouTube of how to do the Carlton, would I be sued or would it be fair use? Sure seems like he cares more about getting money than protecting his dance move.
 

alamox

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personally i wouldn't dare sue a company for this, especialy if i am a public figure, just looks pathetic, yes it's your move, so what ?
 

acidrain97

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isn't dancing a form of moving your arms and legs in a certain fashion? I'm going to copyright walking as a dance. Guess what, anybody that walks I'm going to sue because I invented the walking dance. Pay me.
 

Shmee

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So if I posted a video on YouTube of how to do the Carlton, would I be sued or would it be fair use? Sure seems like he cares more about getting money than protecting his dance move.
Fair use is always a hard question, and for dancing it is even harder since not a lot of people try and sue over it, but at the same time dancing is usually free or you earn very little money from it. Generally you pay choreographers to come up with dances for shows or videos and that is then end of it because there is no marketplace for this. People dancing those dances in the club are not making money off of the dances so it is fair use. A how to video would probably be same. In the same way there are tons of guitar tutorials for songs with a copyright that no one goes after. That has changed now that Fortnite has started charging $10 a pop for these things. All of the sudden a market has appeared, and it is important that creators get paid for their creations. That is how the free market is supposed to work.
 
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Qthulu

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The only property owned by the network is videos of him dancing or his likeness. Movement and dances are essentially public domain and are not "Ownable"
 

M76

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This is bullshit, if you walk like someone that someone can sue you for walking the same way? Fuck off.
 

c3k

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This is bullshit, if you walk like someone that someone can sue you for walking the same way? Fuck off.
Umm, this may not be the time or place, but I have copyrighted the phrase "Fuck off." If you use a period and only a capital "F", well, it's mine.
 

Krenum

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Well.....it is called the "Carlton". But its not copyrighted as far as I know. Its a bit of a stretch....
 

Nolan7689

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He does indeed, and due to the nature of the show (hiring musicians and dancers as actors), songs and choreography performed on the show belong to the performers. Believe it or not he is a well known dancer and a choreographer in real life, and to be a dance that you can copyright it needs three moves, which this has, and be captured on fixed media with a timestamp, which this was. Epic even named the dance "Fresh", so while I am not sure he will win, it isn't completely baseless. Dance is a form of art, and art can be copyrighted in all its forms. Here is the quick legalzoom.com description: https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/how-to-copyright-a-dance
But does he own it? Did he go through the steps of copyrighting it? If he did open and shut, pay the man. If he never copyrighted it in all these years very arguably it's fallen to public demand.

This is bullshit, if you walk like someone that someone can sue you for walking the same way? Fuck off.
Um, well, for most people walking=/=dancing. But hey, I don't know your life, walk like no ones watching.
 

Nokia

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When you are so broke that you have to sue a game to try to get money.
 

xmadror

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WhoMe

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Think I'll just TM (stronger than a copyright) everything a human can do...surely I'll make millions...especially as games try more and more to mimic everything people do. And oh yeah, don't forget to send me the $1 fee next time you use the bathroom.

Maybe the patent troll companies can get in on this too.
 

clockdogg

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I plan to sue them as well - they stole the game title from me. As a kid I built a fort (using patented methods) and spent a nite in it (using patented sleeping methods).
 

Archaea

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Dumb


I hope the plantiffs fail and get stuck with the court charges.

Litigation happy society. Everyone’s looking for a quick buck.
 

Aioeyu

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Good luck with that lawsuit /s
If anyone owned the rights to the dance, it would be NBC Universal/Comcast, as they are listed as the rights holder of "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." However, case law seems to support that dance moves cannot be copyrighted due to their collaborative nature. That logic seems like it would imply that music can't be copyrighted either, since all music is in essence a collaboration between the producers and other artists, as the precedent on dance implies. As Ribeiro has already stated, the dance is an amalgamation of other moves he'd seen, largely based on Courtney Cox in the Bruce Springsteen video "Dancing in the Dark." He has clearly stated where the inspiration came from in the past, most notably to Time magazine here: http://time.com/4004806/alfonso-ribeiro-explains-carlton-dance/.

It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out, as a win by all the people suing Fortnite for "stealing" dance moves would be a complete reversal of fair use or a long tradition of artists of one variety borrowing from others in an interpretive way to make something new.
 

funkydmunky

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Elaine Benes is going to clean up. Don't no one go get caught dancing badly! Not at a wedding, not at the bar, not at the prom. No one not ever no where do bad dancings.
 
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Fortnite's profits is how much now?
geez man, pay him a little then make him shill for the game in ads. Win-Win. Sounds like he's desperate enough.

but greedy execs. Greedy execs ruin everything for games these days.
 

M76

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Um, well, for most people walking=/=dancing. But hey, I don't know your life, walk like no ones watching.
The point is that this type of thing shouldn't even be allowed into copyrights even if he tried. It's ridiculous.
 

Advil

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What even comprises a "dance move?"

Games have featured dance emotes since what... the 90s? Maybe earlier?

Are these guys trying to say that short sequence dance MOVES can't be used? It's practically a form of free use parody. The move sequences rarely extend past 20-30 seconds and none have ever been an entire segment of a sitcom or an entire hour of ripped off broadway or MTV performance.

We're going to start allowing lawsuits if a few seconds of moves gets used?

We're all going to have to stand still in public.

Oh wait, some dimwit will say that standing still IS his dance move.
 

Shmee

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But does he own it?
You don't need to file copyrights for art. It helps, but don't need to. That way people can't steal unpublished books or paintings from you. Same idea for dance. You just need to have documented it with a date. Which the show does for him. If you had read my link I provided you would have seen that, and yes he does own it. Listen, I am not saying he should sue, I am just saying the suit isn't as baseless as people are making it out to be, and maybe if you had come up with something people are charging $10 a pop for you would want your cut too.
 
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