1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Fresh Prince's Alfonso Ribeiro sues Fornite for using the Carlton dance

By midian182 · 31 replies
Dec 18, 2018
Post New Reply
  1. Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks in the much-loved 1990s show that starred Will Smith, says that Fortnite ripped off his well-known ‘Carlton dance’ and used it for the ‘Fresh’ emote. You can see the two in a side-by-side comparison below.

    “It is widely recognized that Mr Ribeiro's likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite,” Ribeiro’s attorney told TMZ.

    "Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like 'Fresh'. Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."

    Ribeiro says he is currently in the middle of copyrighting the dance, more than 20 years after he first performed it on the program. He is also suing 2K Games for copying the moves in NBA 2K. It's also in Destiny, so Bungie and Activision might want to prepare themselves.

    Riberio isn’t the first person to take this action. Brooklyn-based rapper 2 Milly has also sued Epic Games for using his Milly Rock dance without compensation or credit. Additionally, Donald Faison, who played Turk on the TV comedy show scrubs, doesn’t seem too happy about his ‘poison’ dance being used in the game.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,390   +3,779

    "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" goes by the wayside as soon as the lawyers and money hungry has been's are involved .......
  3. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,833   +678

    I hope he wins but he will lose. Entertainment is in the pocket of law makers and judges
  4. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 799   +334

    Hope he wins?! WHAT?!

    Are you seriously thinking he was the first and only person in the history of mankind to do those dance moves? For all we know he saw a friend doing it and since he was "famous" now it's his move?
    Get out of here!
    This is like Apple trying to patent "rounded corners" or "slide to unlock"

    For something to be intellectual property it does at least need to be intellectual to begin with!

    Shameless moneygrabber
  5. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 978   +324

    Doing similar dance moves is not the same as cloning them second by second to be exactly the same. Also, you CAN copyright dance movements and patterns and these two dances are not generic, are very well known for these specific people and are being ripped off to make money by these companies. They have a case and should win, the companies don't like it when they work is ripped off but apparently have no problems ripping off others.

    Also, no need to try to go all "elite" with IP definition, all it means is a work or invention that is the result of creativity and dances fit as a creative work.
    Reachable and Godel like this.
  6. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Evangelist Posts: 602   +313

    I mean he's yet to get the copyright on the dance so he's swimming up **** creek with this litigation.
  7. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 414   +416

    To be fair he should be compensated for his iconic move.

    If the moon walk was used I'm sure MJ's estate would expect royalties.
    MaikuTech likes this.
  8. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 771   +293

    I could have sworn I've seen someone else do that dance before he did. The Carlton Dance is a culture nickname for a dance that nobody had a name for. He's just trying to take credit for a culture phenomenon. If he didn't have a copyright on it by now, then he already knows he didn't invent it. It was also a dance that was made fun of in the show for comedy reasons. So that wouldn't make it something that one would copyright. This looks like a money adventure for the simple reason of 'No harm in trying. All they can do is say no'.
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,393   +5,020

    When is a lawsuit going to come for kicking a ball the same way someone else did? Or a lawsuit for running the same way. Your honor I swear he was breathing the same way I did 20 years ago.

    It is a fricking joke. He must think that dance move single handedly made Fortnight what it is today. He should be honored. Instead he thinks he can stick his finger in the profits. As far as I know it wasn't even his move. It could have been a move the choreographers had him do.
  10. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,067   +1,190

    {bronx cheer}
  11. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,124   +1,617

    Someone should inform Ribeiro that those exact dance moves were popular in the Roaring 20's "flapper" days. Youtube it to see for yourself. To call those unique to him is laughable. He simply stole from history and now wants someone to pay him.

    Same story, different day from the Hollywood types.
  12. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 566   +323

    Another reason to never play fortnite!
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,393   +5,020

    Somehow I get the feeling your reasoning is off topic. The notion that the dance move may have been copied doesn't concern you. You resent the addition of dance moves in the game period. I kinda feel the same way. But seriously what do they hurt?
  14. Raytrace3D

    Raytrace3D TS Addict Posts: 110   +109

    Forza Horizons 4 also has the Carlton
  15. Godel

    Godel TS Addict Posts: 173   +88

    If it's a point-for-point copy then he has a case and they'd be best served by just paying him off.

    However if he was on the show at the time he first performed the dance it may be that the original TV show company own the copyright.
  16. ThrakazogZ

    ThrakazogZ TS Member Posts: 19   +22

    It's interesting that the moonwalk was mentioned in the comments. Ribeiro was in a Pepsi commercial with Michael Jackson when he was a kid, and did all of MJ's moves, including the moonwalk. Being involved with dancing since he was a kid, he was the one who came up with the "Carlton" dance (even if it does resemble dance moves from other time periods). He's mentioned in interviews over the years that he combined the dance from a Springsteen music video and Eddie Murphy's "white people can't dance" comedy routine to form the moves for the "Carlton". That being said, I don't know about this whole lawsuit deal.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

    Well kidz, the entire show is covered in its entirety by copyright, and whether you agree with him or not, that should provide cause of action
  18. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +573

    20+ years later? Good luck with that. Someone will find prior art which was never copyrighted and that will be the end of it.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

  20. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +573

    Wrong direction: before, not after. Prior uncopyrighted art. My BIL's startup won a patent case by proving that the techniques they were being sued over were already available in the public domain as prior unpatented art, public knowledge, and thus no patents were being violated. Patent in that case, not copyright, but the idea is still the same.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

    Well first patent term is much shorter than copyright, even under the old rules. The only DVDs you'll see reproduced, "in the public domain", would be westerns from the 50's.

    Next look up DVD sets from the show, I'm sure you'll see they're still under copyright.

    So really, all whatshisname has to do, is to tie the dance to the show content.

    He might lose, but it's certainly not the slam dunk you think it is.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Term_of_patent <20 years

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Act_of_1976 < Term is life plus 50 years (Them's the old rules.

    But if push came to shove, I think that studio could step in and claim the property as theirs. Which could make them the winners of the suit, and whatshisname, SOoL.

    I see where you're coming from, but the game studio would have to show a step for step version of the dance, which existed before the show ever aired.

    And BTW, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air aired from 1990 to 1996, so there's absolutely no doubt that it's still under copyright.

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
  22. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +573

    If nobody can find a clip of someone doing that dance prior to the Fresh Prince show, then this has some legal standing. My argument is that I'll bet that those moves were previously used elsewhere, and as prior art in the public domain will probably remain so and the show and Mr. Ribiero have much less of claim, probably one which will not be defensible in court.
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

    So does this mean an end to you arguing patent law terms vs the length of copyright protection? Because that was getting tiresome.
  24. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +573

    Ah, my initial comment about 20+ years later. Yes that comment was a bit too flip, much like yours above. I was never arguing the length of copyright (or patent) protection, I'm well aware of Disney's successful lobbying efforts wrt copyright maintenance, I expect that will be further extended before 2024 rolls around.

    Instead I was arguing the substance of said protection. My subsequent comments have been to the point that not every action or thing on a copyrighted show are owned by that show. Nobody will argue that the Carlton character is original and copyrighted. However every move/speech/etc. he makes in the show is not copyrighted if those had been used/spoken/etc. previous to the show.
  25. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,003

    Sequence becomes the issue. For example, you can't copyright a musical chord progression. You can copyright a sequence of musical tonal intervals and note timings, aka, "melody". You can also copyright the "poetry" involved with the melody, aka, "lyrics".

    Ostensibly, an entire public performance of a musical event can be copyrighted. The question then becomes, "how many specific dance moves does Britney have to make in a specific order, before it can't be "reproduced without permission". And that, is above both of our pay grades.

    But no, "Carlton" can't collect if it can be proven that he ripped off the prior moves off in the same specific order as someone else.

    What's most intriguing, or annoying, (depending. on POV), is that once upon a time, dances were created and named to be copied, then launched as a top 40 record. IE; "

    Not your cup of tea? This Kamelot power ballad might be more to your liking:

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...