las vegas law Archives - Morris Law Center

Can You Protect a Dance Move With a Copyright Law

Complex choreography is a creative act and can be registered for copyright protection as long as it meets the other requirements, such as being fixed in some form of media by being recorded. 17 USC § 102(a)(4). However, individual dance moves or poses generally cannot by protected by copyright.

This issue recently gained some attention because Mr. Alfonso Ribeiro attempted to register the copyright for the dance moves that were sometimes referred to as “The Carlton” after the character he portrayed in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Mr. Ribeiro attempted to register the moves in connection with a dispute with the makers of Fortnite. Fortnite is a video game which allows its players to purchase a variety of poses and short dances for expression. One of the dances had some similarity to “The Carlton” dance done by Mr. Ribeiro in the show. Mr. Ribeiro alleged that the inclusion in Fortnite violated his copyright.

However, when he attempted to register the copyright,[1] the U.S. Copyright Office denied the registration. The Copyright Office responded noting that neither individual dance moves nor simple routines can be copyrighted. This was in accordance with the clear intent of Congress during earlier amendments to the copyright act when the House Report noted that “choreographic works do not include social dance steps and simple routines.”[2]

The minimum requirements to acquire copyright protection are low under the law, but there must be a minimum threshold of creativity involved. Further, copyright was not meant to lock away basic building blocks which are needed to develop other works, such as individual dance moves or short sequences.[3] A qualified attorney, such as the intellectual property attorneys at Morris Law Center, can assist if you have other questions about what can be protected by copyright.

And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us before anything is set in stone. We love answering questions!


By Timothy A. Wiseman, Esq.


[1] The application was made under Service Request Number 1-7226013290 and the relevant correspondence has ID: 1-3DJ4TP3.

[2] H.R. Rep No. 94-1476 p. 54, discussing categories of copyrightable works.

[3] Scénes á faire and commonly used tropes are other examples of building blocks that are part of the public domain and cannot be protected by copyright.

Can a Court Judgment be Recorded Against Real Property?

The short answer is “yes.” Not only can you record a judgment against real property, but you will often want to. Obtaining a judgment lien against real property can be a good way to ensure payment of a judgment debt. A lien on the property makes it more difficult for a judgment debtor to transfer an interest in the property and gives the judgment creditor (the person who won the judgment) the ability to take further steps, including foreclosure on the property.

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How do I Certify my Pup to be a Service Dog?

Today a trip to the store likely involves seeing a service animal assisting their owner while they travel about. If you’re a dog lover, you’ve probably wondered what the process is to get your own furry children trained and certified to accompany you in public places. However, it is important to understand the purpose of a service dog and what specific reason would require your dog to join you in public.

Firstly, the most important and albeit shocking piece of information about service dogs is that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require formal training or certification. If you search “service dog” online, you will immediately be barraged with several sites offering certifications for service dogs. These are not required nor are they recognized as legitimate proof that your dog is a service animal by the Department of Justice. Although professional training is not required, a service dog still must be trained in providing a “service” to you. For example, you may train your own dog to guide you as you walk if you have impaired vision or blindness.

So, now you may be thinking, “Great – I can bring my dog anywhere a service animal is allowed and say: I trained him/her myself.” However, the use of a service dog requires the place you are going, whether a restaurant, store, movie theatre, etc., to make accommodations for you and your service dog. This is based on an honor system that you have some reason you need your dog’s assistance. If you don’t, you could be inconveniencing that place and others around you for no good reason. Moreover, it isn’t fair to those who truly do require their service animal. These places should be reserving their reasonable accommodations for individuals who really do need their dog to provide a service in order to participate in their everyday lives.

In sum, while it would be amazing to take our adorable, loving puppies everywhere we go, it is important to respect the purpose of a service dog. Please only train your pup to be a service dog, and bring them around as such, if you truly need their assistance to function in your everyday life.

For more information on service dogs, and the laws that protect them, please review the AmericanDisabilities Act (ADA) at this link:

And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us before anything is set in stone. We love answering questions!