Dance Ownership ft. Eric Dubois

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Welcome to Episode 22 of the Salsa Kings LIVE podcast

In our latest episode, Andres talks about dance ownership, something important to dance professionals and regular dancers everywhere. With him is guest Eric Dubois, a lawyer and dancer to talk about specifically the copyright law and intellectual property of dance. This is overlooked, but it is important for any artist to be able to call their work their own. Andres gives a visual example of the importance of copyright with the video game Fortnite, which you may or may not have heard of. One of the keys is the dances which they’ve been using, which has been popularized by other dancers. There is a lot of legal controversy surrounding the use of these dances. This has highlighted the need for legal protection for dancing.

Eric comes on to talk about his work with intellectual property. He explains the different types, which are patents -physical inventions- trademarks -brands- copyrights -for anything creative like videoes or writing- and then there are secrets, which should be self-explanatory.

Artists as big as Snoop Dogg and Will Smith have been infringed upon and are suing to receive their due from the game. It doesn’t matter how big you are, everyone is a target, particularly among older dancers who may not be in touch with gamer culture.

Eric goes on into the history of dance copyright, which only started as recently as 1976. Eric explains the way a layperson can copyright their work, which has been made to be lawyer friendly. It is easily done, but it must be a whole dance. A video or a diagram explaining the dance would be needed.

The problem also arises that the law has not caught up with the law. This is something that works against dancers and in favor of things like Fortnite. The fact that distinct moves do not count as an entire dance unfairly favors Fortnite’s dance moves. The laws have not account for genuinely distinct things like the moonwalk.

Keep in mind that the objection isn’t simply these dances being used, but also being monetized without the consent or profit of the original creators.

Eric goes in more detail to explain the complications of what is going on, the struggles that awaits dancers, and even the unintended consequences of these things.

As a professional, Eric gives advice on copyrighting and modern pitfalls that many dancers -and other creative people as well- may fall into. Those concerned with their professional dancing and making a living off of it should listen to this.

“Don’t forget the fine line. I don’t want every artist who does a dance move to get a demand letter in the mail. If you’re a hip-hop artist, and you inadvertently, or advertently, do a move similar to another, are you going to get sued? So, the way the law is now, you shouldn’t… So, it’s interesting to see where does Fortnite change this, if it does at all.”

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