805.5 (B) (1) Simple Routines
Congress made it clear that there is a distinction between “choreographic works” on the one hand and simple routines on the other. See H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 54 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5667 (“‘choreographic works’ do not include social dance steps and simple routines”); S. REP. NO. 94-473, at 52 (1975). Choreographic works are eligible for copyright protection, but simple routines are not.
The dividing line between copyrightable choreography and a simple routine is a continuum, rather than a bright line. The U.S. Copyright Office may register complex dances consisting of a related series of dance steps, movements, and patterns organized into a coherent compositional whole. By contrast, the Office cannot register simple routines. For example, it is not possible to copyright a series of dance movements that constitute a relatively small part of a theatrical performance, such as a discrete routine within a variety show, dance contest, or other exhibition. See COPYRIGHT OFFICE STUDY NO. 28, at 100.