Alfonso Ribeiro would really rather never do the “Carlton dance” again, but, since the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air actor says he’s asked to boogie every time he leaves the house, he might as well be getting paid. That’s the thinking, at least, behind a lawsuit Ribeiro filed last year. In December, Ribeiro sued 2K and Fortnite owners Epic Games for pretty clearing ripping his moves in an add-on dance Fortnite players can purchase for their character. See it below and just try not to hear Tom Jones in the background.
The question, of course, is whether Ribeiro actually has a valid ownership claim over the dance, which he introduced in a 1991 episode of Fresh Prince and resurrected during his stint on Dancing With The Stars. The answer, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, is no, and they’re kinda being dicks about it.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the Office’s Performing Arts Division, says Ribeiro’s registration for the copyright is being refused because the “Carlton dance” is nothing more than a “simple dance routine” that simply anyone could do. But, like, has she even seen him do it? Yes. She has. Clearly many, many times.
“The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner,” wrote Florence, demonstrating a clear immunity to the dance’s halo of joy. “In the second dance step, the dancer takes two steps to each side while opening and closing their legs and their arms in unison. In the final step, the dancer’s feet are still and they lower one hand from above their head to the middle of their chest while fluttering their fingers. The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.”
Attorneys for Epic are waltzing with this reasoning in a dismissal brief, which adds that if anyone “owns” the dance, it’s NBC, who own the episode in which it was introduced. As such, things aren’t looking too good for Ribeiro, who, we regret to posit, is almost certainly not dancing now.