Copyright Protection for Choreographic Works
Like all other art forms, choreographic works in dance and their steps have been
expressly recognized under the Copyright Laws of different jurisdictions. By such
virtue, performers can have their rights protected, even though some of the most
popular steps have not been claimed. Take the example of the famous ‘moonwalk
dance,’ which is often accredited to Michael Jackson – it was first performed and
expressed by Cab Calloway in 1930. The same stands true for the ‘walking against
the wind’ dance, popularized by Bill Bailey yet not registered and claimed. Now it
has become a common ‘dance routine’ or social dance step, which cannot be
governed by copyright law. It is, therefore, interesting to note how an iconic or
original dance step can be registered.
What is a Choreographic Work?
There is no universally accepted definition provided for the uniform application of
the law on the said subject matter. It is, therefore, to be understood as it has
developed from the past common usage. Simply put, choreography is the art of
creating or arranging dances consisting of an original technique of dance notation.
Many issues come upfront while defining the term ‘dance,’ reason being:
Since dance involves the techniques of human planned movements, it draws
closer to other forms, like gymnastics, which is where a line has to be drawn.
Dance is commonly associated with music, but at the same time, there are dance
forms like contemporary performances, which utilize silence while expressing the
Dances are usually performed for presenting the same to an audience for
recreational and social purposes, but the same cannot be confined to
performances created without such intention.
There are certain dances and choreographic moves that cannot be copyrighted,
Social or cultural dances;
Discrete dance movements and simple dance routines;
Ordinary motors activities and physical movements; and
Steps that are neither choreograp