In business, as well as in your personal life, you likely have new concepts. Whether you record your own music, write a book or choreograph a dance routine, you might want to protect your work.

Protecting your intellectual property may seem complex. However, the United States Copyright Office lists examples of original works you can copyright. This includes musical, artistic, dramatic and literary works such as:

  • Computer software
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Songs
  • Poems

In some cases, your ownership rights could seem clear-cut. However, many times a copyright dispute involves a judgment.

Alfonso Ribeiro filed a lawsuit against Epic Games

Alleging that Fortnite’s creator stole the “Carlton Dance” from his role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Alfonso Ribeiro sued Epic Games for using the moves he often used while playing the part of Carlton Banks.

While Ribeiro did not grant permission for the dance to be used in the game, some questions exist about Ribeiro drawing inspiration from an Eddie Murphy routine. Meanwhile, since Ribeiro’s signature dance premiered on the NBC show, you might consider whether the network could claim the rights to the moves.

Rights a copyright protects

With a copyright on the “Carlton Dance,” Ribeiro would have exclusive rights to perform it in public. And copyright protection would enable him to maintain the right to prepare derivative works based on his dance. As the owner of the copyright, Ribeiro would also be able to authorize others to exercise those exclusive rights.

“Carlton Dance” copyright denied

Ribeiro was recently informed that the office denied his application. The “Carlton Dance” will not be registered as a choreographic work since it is a “simple dance routine.”

Although many questions surrounded Ribeiro’s ownership claim, those who grew up watching the show may continue to recognize him as the creator of the “Carlton Dance.” And although your creation may not be a dance, you might seek to get your work copyrighted before it becomes as widely scrutinized. Through legally protecting yourself, you can retain the rights to your ingenuity.