805.4 (D) Choreographic Works That Incorporate De Minimis Dance Steps, Social Dances, Simple Routines, or Other Uncopyrightable Movements
As discussed in Section 805.5 (B), social dances, simple routines, and other uncopyrightable movements cannot be registered as separate and distinct works of authorship, even if they contain a substantial amount of creative expression.
Nevertheless, uncopyrightable movements may be used as the building blocks for a choreographer’s expression, in much the same way that words and short phrases provide the basic material for writers. Choreographic works that incorporate social dance steps, simple routines, or even athletic exercises may be protected by copyright, provided that the work as a whole contains a sufficient amount of choreographic authorship. See Horgan, 789 F.2d at 161 (quoting COMPENDIUM (SECOND) § 450.06).
• Jos√É¬© Eduardo da Silva created the choreography for a complex dance production titled, Tango de Janeiro. One of the dances in the production incorporates an extensive number of steps and routines from a social dance. While the overall production could be registered as a choreographic work, the U.S. Copyright Office would reject a claim limited to the adapted social dance.