The Iconic Carlton Dance From ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Can’t Be Copyrighted
Here's why actor Alfonso Ribeiro took the issue to court.
It’s not unusual for the “Carlton Dance” to be loved by anyone, but the US Copyright Office apparently doesn’t think it’s all that special.
Former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro has been involved in a lawsuit with Take-Two Interactive, publisher of the video game “NBA 2K,” and the publisher of “Fortnite” over avatars in the games being able to do the dance that his character popularized on the hit ’90s sitcom.
A letter from Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist with the US Copyright Office, to Ribeiro’s attorney, David Hecht, surfaced this week as part of federal court documents in California.
In the correspondence, Florence wrote that the moves are “a simple dance routine.”
“As such, it is not registrable as a choreographic work,” the letter stated.
You can see the “Carlton Dance” in action in this clip from YouTube:
She also wrote an explanation of the choreography in which “the dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner.”
Florence wrote, “This single dance step is not registrable as a choreographic work. Accordingly, your application for registration is refused.”
Ribeiro debuted the moves during a scene on the popular show that starred Will Smith.
In one episode, Ribeiro’s character, Carlton Banks, performs the dance to the Tom Jones classic “It’s Not Unusual.”
The choreography also helped the actor and TV host win “Dancing With the Stars.”
Ribeiro and his pro dance partner, Witney Carson, were crowned champions of that competition dance show in 2014, with one of their highlights being a performance featuring the “Carlton Dance.”
Written by Lisa Respers France for CNN.
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