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.


Sources:

[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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What Rights Do Cohabitating Couples Have?

More and more of us are choosing to live with our partners (before, or instead of, marriage) than ever before. Although the general zeitgeist suggests that it is mostly millennials who are populating this trend, based on data collected in 2016, there has been a 75% increase in cohabiting adults over the age of 50 since 2007.[1] No matter the age or the reason, there has been a definite increase in this trend.

While a marriage has widely understood legal rights and obligations, the legal parameters of simply living with a significant other can be confusing, especially as it varies state-by-state. Some states recognize “common law marriage,” which means that a couple may be recognized as legally married (with all its trappings), even without a ceremony or license.[2] Certain conditions have to be met, such having “acknowledge[ed] each other as husband and wife” for at least 3 years, with specific rules varying by state. However, most states do not recognize common law marriages. [3] Nevada is one of the states that does not.[4] This means that even if a person is in a long-term relationship, and they have been living together for many years, they are not considered legally married, and therefore do not have the rights and protections of a marriage. 

Don’t fret! While common law marriage is not explicitly recognized, case law and interpretation of the statutes over the years indicates that a legal marriage is not the sole governing factor in the division of property. A cohabitation agreement may be formed either verbally, in writing, or by a couples’ conduct (such as living and presenting themselves to others as married, pooling their resources, etc.), which would allow for the communal distribution of property.[5] However, the enforcement of such agreements is complicated, especially when there is no written agreement. Furthermore, these types of agreements still do not confer many of the other rights and obligations of legal marriages, such as alimony, the ability to collect federal benefits, and the right to inherit property from your partner without a will.[6]

Cohabitation is a complex topic. If you are in a committed, long-term relationship, but have no plans of marrying, it is important to have a discussion with your partner about not only your shared property, but also what to do if one person becomes incapacitated. Next, discussing your options with legal counsel will save you the confusion and headache in the future. It may not be an easy or comfortable topic, but it is an crucial one.

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!


Sources:

[1] Stepler, Renee. (April 6, 2017). Number of U.S. adults cohabitating with partner continues to rise, especially among those 50 and older. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/06/number-of-u-s-adults-cohabiting-with-a-partner-continues-to-rise-especially-among-those-50-and-older/.

[2] Common Law Marriage by State. (August 4, 2014) National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/common-law-marriage.aspx.

[3] Id.

[4] NRS 122.010.

[5] Western States Contr.  v. Michoff, 108 NEV. 931 (Nev. 1992).

[6] Nevada Same-Sex Marriages, Domestic Partnerships and Cohabitation Agreements. Las Vegas Defense Group. Retrieved from https://www.shouselaw.com/nevada/family/domestic-partnerships.

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: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

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!