Copyright Law vs. Bad Dancing

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act has seen many absurd applications since it became law, but none, I think, are quite as absurd as this one:

The inventor of the “Electric Slide,” an iconic dance created in 1976, is fighting back against what he believes are copyright violations and, more importantly, examples of bad dancing.

Kyle Machulis, an engineer at San Francisco’s Linden Lab, said he received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice about a video he had shot at a recent convention showing three people doing the Electric Slide.

“The creator of the Electric Slide claims to hold a copyright on the dance and is DMCAing every single video on YouTube” that references the dance, Machulis said. He’s also sent licensing demands to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Machulis added.

Indeed, Richard Silver, who filed the copyright for the Electric Slide in 2004, said on one of his Web pages that the DeGeneres Show had been putting up a legal fight as he tried to get compensation for a segment that aired in February 2006 in which actress Teri Hatcher and other dancers performed the popular wedding shuffle.

Silver, it seems, is quite serious about protecting his supposed intellectual property right in the electric slide:

It appears Silver has for several years aggressively defended his copyright on the dance. In 2004, Silver apparently wrote an e-mail to Donna Woolard, an associate professor of exercise science at North Carolina’s Campbell University, demanding she remove a video of the dance from a Web site. He complained the dance wasn’t being done correctly on the video, and Woolard took down the video.

Silver wrote, according to e-mail correspondence posted by Woolard, that he had sued two Hollywood production companies for using the dance in several films and that he was now adding her as a co-defendant. It’s unclear what happened to the suit.

It’s stuff like this that makes me think that the entire idea of intellectual property is nonsense upon stilts.

H/T: Slashdot

  • Brad Warbiany

    If you “invent” a dance in 1976, let it become part of the public domain for nearly 30 years, how in the world can you apply for the copyright in 2004?

  • VRB

    He didn’t invent the dance, he stole it. We were doing in the late fifties and early sixties and called it the “Continental.”

  • Aimee

    Just the mere thought that you can copyright a dance move is ridiculous. It’s bad enough that Donald Trump was able to get a copyright on “Your Fired”, like he is the first person to ever say it before.

  • Heidi

    Donald Trump didn’t win that fight. You can’t copyright “You’re Fired”

  • Aimee

    I apologize, I didn’t hear that that hadn’t gone through. Unfortunately for Donald, there was that woman who already owns the trademrk because of her pottery business, it only applies in her state though. But it still doesn’t stop people from trying.