Should dancers be allowed to copyright dance moves.
Jamaican dancers are vehemently seeking ways to copyright their solo moves, out of fear of persons stealing them. This topic has been discussed at length over the past couple of years, as more and more dancers professionally embrace their talent and work to create a viable business out of it. Is it even possible to copyright dance moves?
Entertainment lawyer and former manager of copyright and related rights at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Joan Elizabeth Webley, said that the challenge lies in the fact that it is difficult to prove one specific move is someone’s unique creation. It would be a different case for a fully choreographed piece of art.
She mentioned the possible steps that need to be taken, “A lot of our Jamaican dances have African retention so it’s a little bit difficult to give individual copyright to a specific move because it’s possible that move borrows from something else that already exists. But if the copyright issues are going to change, it’s going to come through an industry effort. Shifts can occur and things can change but the only way that happened is if the case is made by the industry as a whole.”
A recent surge in the topic comes from a 2019 Christmas Campaign done by British Clothing brand Mark and Spencer. Their official ad uses the soundtrack for House of Pain’s 1989 hit song “Jump Around” however, an unofficial dancehall remix using Ding Dong’s track “Fling” as also been making the rounds.
Kool Ravers from the Ravers Clavers camp who made the dance back in 2017. “People have been telling me it looks like it (Fling) but it’s just something close and I should be careful,” Kool Ravers said. “When I see dem pass the first variation (there are four variations of Fling) and into the other three throughout the entire commercial, me a say no man, this is definitely Fling. Mi hear say is a man weh born in Jamaica do the choreography but him live overseas and when me hear dat, it just confirm fi me say a definitely Fling dem use. If the guy who choreographed it is said to be Jamaican, what more proof you need.”