Former ‘Fresh Prince’ Star Denied Copyright On ‘Carlton’ Dance

Actor Alfonso Ribeiro probably isn’t kicking up his heels at this news: The U.S. Copyright Office won’t allow him to copyright his famous “Carlton Dance.”

Ribeiro created the dance in the early 1990s while playing Will Smith’s cousin Carlton on “The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.”

In December, the actor sued video gaming companies Epic Games, the creator of “Fortnite,” and Take-Two Interactive, which owns the “NBA 2K” series, for including the dance in their games without his permission.

To boost his case, Ribeiro sought to copyright the Carlton Dance, but his application was denied by the U.S. Copyright Office, according to The Hollywood Reporter,

The copyright office rejected the registration because Ribeiro’s “choreographic work” was just a “simple dance routine,” Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the office’s Performing Arts Division, told Ribeiro’s attorney David Hecht, according to correspondence written last month that surfaced on Wednesday in California federal court.

Florence explained further:

“The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner.

“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.”