Can You Copyright a Dance? Find Out Now!

Copyright Protection Can You Copyright a Dance? Find Out Now!

How Can You Copyright a Dance? The Best Tips To Protect Your Choreography 

If you have come up with amazing dance moves and want to save them from copycats, you should get familiar with how copyright works. Once you get the ropes of it, you will know that copyright laws can protect your work from infringement. If you want to see whether you can make a copyright claim to your dance, learn more about what kind of dances you can copyright.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is an exclusive right you get over the works you create. When you own a copyright to a piece of work, you are the only one that is legally allowed to copy, display, reproduce, perform, distribute, and make adaptations and new versions of it. If others do any of the mentioned without your permission, they can be accused of copyright infringement. You can copyright different kinds of works such as:

  • Novels, poems, or articles
  • Databases, blogs, or websites
  • Songs, scripts, audio recordings, or lyrics
  • Movies, videos, TV broadcasts, or video games
  • Photographs, illustration, or jewelry
  • Choreographies and pantomimes

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the U.S. Copyright Office can protect your work from copyright infringement.


Copyright Laws on Dance Moves

If you are a choreographer or a dancer and you think someone stole your dance moves and you want to claim copyright to them, you should first consider whether your dance represents an original piece of work. You can’t copyright a single dance move, but only a choreography.

According to the Copyright Act, to be able to get exclusive rights to a dance, it needs to be an original piece of work that contains dance movements and patterns organized as a whole. It also has to express a certain level of creativity. Copyright can protect any work of choreography regardless of whether it has a storyline.

To obtain copyrights to your choreography, you need to have it in a tangible form. You can make your dance tangible by:

  1. Making a notation
  2. Recording a video of it
  3. Writing a detailed description of it

Once you get the copyright, it lasts as long as you are alive plus 70 years after your death. 

What Dances Are Not Copyrightable?

Besides not being able to copyright single dance moves, you also can’t own copyrights to some of these types of dances and movements, even if they are distinctive:

Types Examples

Common Movements or Gestures

  • Yoga positions
  • The grapevine
  • The basic waltz or hustle step
  • Movements with which dancers spell out letters

Social Dances

  • Ballroom dances
  • Folk dances
  • Square dances
  • Swing dances

Athletic Movements

  • New sports movements, including a unique tennis swing
  • Skateboarding tricks
  • Common exercises

Movements Not Performed by Humans

  • Moves performed by trained animals
  • Movements made for robots or machines

Why Register Copyright for a Choreography?

The moment you create an original piece of choreography and put it in a tangible form, you automatically get copyrights to it. You can add a  copyright notice to mark the work as your own as one way to deter other people from copying it.

If you want to get extra protection and benefits, you can register your dance at the U.S. Copyright Office. By doing so, you will be able to file a lawsuit in case someone misuses your copyright-protected work. In case you want to file a lawsuit against a copycat, you should respect the statute of limitations and take the copyright infringement case to court on time.

Having your choreography registered for copyrights allows you to get statutory damages and attorney fees covered in case you sue someone for copyright infringement and win the case. Registering your work at the U.S. Copyright Office will cost you some money—from $35 to $125 depending on the number of works you submit and the method of registration—online or via email. If you want to protect your work, learn how to copyright it.

How To Copyright a Dance Online

If you want to register your choreography for copyrights, you can do it on the U.S. Copyright Office website. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Go to the website
  2. Select Register
  3. Click on Performing Arts
  4. Set up an account and log in
  5. Click on Copyright Registration
  6. Select Work of the Performing Arts
  7. Fill out the form
  8. Pay for the registration
  9. Submit your work and finalize the registration process

Register Your Copyright to a Dance via Mail

Another way to submit your work to the U.S. Copyright Office is through the mail. You need to include a fee of $85, the application form, and your work in the letter. Send the letter to

101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States. 

Keep in mind that it might take a while to get a response from them.

File a DMCA Notice With DoNotPay and Protect Your Choreography 

It often happens that someone puts a toe out of line and steals your dance moves. Luckily, copyright laws, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), provide protection in these cases. If you see someone took your choreography without your permission, you can easily file a DMCA takedown notice with DoNotPay, even if you don’t have your work registered for copyrights. With our app, you can save money you would use for hiring lawyers and save time on dealing with DMCA agents.

The process of filing the notice is super easy—all you need to do is follow a few steps:

  1. Log in to DoNotPay in any web browser
  2. Choose DMCA Takedown 
  3. Provide the name of your original content
  4. Give us the links to your original work and to the item that violates your copyrights
  5. Confirm your contact information
  6. Click on Sign and Submit
  7. Go to the My Disputes tab to see the results

DoNotPay is praised as the world’s first robot lawyer and has helped many people solve their legal issues. This was recognized by the American Bar Association who gave us the 2020 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access

Give It a Whirl With Other DoNotPay Options

Do you want to learn more about how to copyright other kinds of work? With DoNotPay, you can learn how to copyright a script, a recipe, a book, or a poem.

In case you upload your dance on YouTube, learn how copyright claims can help you save it from misuse. 

If you post your work on other social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, we will help you learn how copyright works on these platforms as well.

Apart from giving assistance with copyright issues, DoNotPay can help you with other tiring tasks, such as signing up for services, terminating memberships, or getting refunds. Access DoNotPay through any web browser, and get our assistance with: 


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