Video Suggestions

by | Feb 27, 2019

Video 1: “‘The Carlton’ Dance Can’t Be Registered, Copyright Office Rules in ‘NBA 2K16’ Case”

According to the article, a judge recently ruled that “The Carlton” — a whimsical dance performed by Alfonso Ribeiro in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — cannot be registered, dealing a blow to the actor’s attempts to sue two video game makers over their apparent use of the dance.

The U.S. Copyright Office denied Ribeiro a copyright for the dance he made famous on the 1990s hit TV show, The Associated Press reported.

Ribeiro filed lawsuits last December against Take-Two Interactive and Epic Games, the makers of the games “NBA 2K16” and “Fortnite,” respectively.

Both games allow players to do dances in character and Ribeiro alleged that the games used versions of the “Carlton” groove. Ribeiro was seeking relief and damages from the games’ creators, including “profits attributed to its misappropriation of The Dance and Ribeiro’s likeness,” the lawsuit against Epic Games said. The copyright news was part of the Take-Two case.

Take-Two and Epic Games declined to comment on the Copyright Office’s decision.

When it comes to copyright law, dance can get a little tricky. A full choreography can be copyrighted but a basic move cannot. According to The Associated Press, the Copyright Office decided that “The Carlton” does not constitute a work of choreography.

Ribeiro is not the only entertainer upset over video games’ apparent use of dance moves. In January, rapper BlocBoy JB sued Epic Games for using a dance he claims is one he invented. Russell Horning, a 17-year-old known as “Backpack Kid” also sued the company.

In December, rapper 2 Milly sued Epic Games over the use of a dance the musician claims he invented in 2011 for the song “Milly Rock.” Epic Games asked a federal judge to throw out that lawsuit on Monday, saying the dance in the game is different from 2 Milly’s moves.

Meanwhile, “Scrubs” actor Donald Faison has taken interest in a “Fortnite” dance that closely resembles one he did on the doctor show.

“Dear fortnite… I’m flattered? Though part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer…” he tweeted last April.

“There is no Epic lawsuit just epic dancing…” he added in a November tweet.

A hearing on the motion to dismiss the Take-Two Interactive lawsuit is scheduled for March 18.
Note: In addition to the video, please also see the following article included at the above-referenced internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. What is a copyright?

A copyright is a form of intellectual property protected by federal law. More particularly, it is the right of exclusivity (i.e. the right to control the dissemination and use of copyrighted material) afforded to the creator of a literary or artistic work.

2. With regard to a copyright violation, what legal remedies are available to the copyright holder?

There are two (2) legal remedies available to the copyright holder in response to a copyright violation:

a) The right to request an injunction (more specifically, a court order) prohibiting the defendant from further violation of the copyright (a temporary injunction pending the outcome of the litigation, and a permanent injunction if the copyright holder prevails in the litigation); and

b) The right to receive money damages (base either on profits lost by the copyright holder due to the copyright violation, or profits gained by the copyright violator due to the violation).

3. As the article indicates, in terms of copyright law, a full choreography can be copyrighted but a basic dance move cannot. Why not?

Copyright protection requires a unique literary or artistic work. A full choreography would be more unique than a basic dance move, which could be quite generic and therefore undeserving of copyright protection.

Video 2: “Babe Ruth Card Bought for $2 Could Be Worth Millions”

According to the article, a California man said the Babe Ruth baseball card he bought for $2 from a collectibles store could turn out to be worth millions.

Dale Ball of Visalia said he spotted the card with an $8 price tag at Action Sports and Coin in Sparks, Nev., and ended up paying only $2 because the store was having a sale that day.

He said the owner did not appear to realize the card might be an authentic Shotwell W-575-1 Babe Ruth card, an ultra-rare collectible with only two known surviving copies.

“I said, ‘why is it only $8,'” Ball said of his conversation with the shop owner. “He says, ‘I can’t find it anywhere in the magazines. I think it’s fake.'”

Ball said he researched the card online for days before discovering it might be one of the rare cards printed by the Shotwell Company in 1921.

The collector said he had the card examined by an antiques expert in Beverly Hills, who shared his opinion that the item is genuine. He said the card must be authenticated and graded by the Beckett Company before its status can be made official.

Ball said he is willing to sell the card — but not for less than $2 million.
Note: In addition to the video, please also see the following article included at the above-referenced internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the effect that a unilateral mistake of fact has on the enforceability of a contract.

A unilateral mistake of fact is a mistake regarding a particular fact related to the contract made by one of the contracting parties. As a matter of contract law, a unilateral mistake of fact does not affect the contract when the mistake is unknown to the other contracting party.

2. Discuss the effect that a bilateral mistake of fact has on the enforceability of a contract.

A bilateral (also known as mutual) mistake of fact is a mistake regarding a particular fact related to the contract make by both of the contracting parties. When both parties enter into a contract under a mutually-mistaken understanding concerning a basic assumption of fact (or law) on which the contract is made, the contract is voidable by the adversely affected party if the mistake has a material effect on the agreed-upon exchange.

3. In your reasoned opinion, is the card seller entitled to a legal remedy in this case? If so, why, and if not, why not?

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. The answer to the question will depend, in large part, on whether there was a unilateral or bilateral mistake of fact in this case.