Explainer: David Moya can legitimately copyright famous TikTok dance moves
In May 2022, it emerged that the most followed male TikToker in Kenya, dancer Moya David, was not happy that his brand was being copied point for point. This came after another dancer named Trevor revealed that Moya had asked him to stop dancing, dressing and performing the exact same way the TikToker does.
Fast forward to February 2023, and Moya has announced that he had copyrighted his famous TikTok dance moves with which he uses to earn his daily bread.
“Right now I have patented all my dance moves because sometimes I see people using them badly considering it is something I come up with originally,” Moya told SPM Buzz.
And so, how did Moya go about in patenting these dance moves and legally make it his works?
According to a source who spoke to Nairobi News, all Moya has to do is record a video and prepare a written description of the dance and its name and then upload on the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) registry. Afterwards he will pay Sh500 and then wait for communication from the registry on whether they can proceed with finalizing the copyrighting process or if there is a dispute that should be solved first.
According to the Kecobo’s website, the importance of a person copyrighting their works is that it acts as a public record of authors/owners, the certificate of registration acts as evidence of ownership of copyright in a court of law in case of a dispute and the certificate of registration may in future be used as collateral in a bank or any other lending institution in case one wants to borrow funds. Additionally, the certificate of registration makes it easy to commercialize copyright i.e. in case of licensing or assignment.
A dance, as in Moya’s case, can be considered a person’s creative work especially if they choreographed them for an intended purpose. Thomson Reuters Practical Law published that a person can copyright dance as long as it is, “an original work consisting of the composition and arrangement of a related series of dance movements and patterns organized into a coherent whole.”
David Moya’s “coherent whole” is that he gets hired by clients to surprise their loved ones for various occasions including birthdays and graduations whereby he appears with gifts in hand and begins dancing on of his renowned dance routines to a selected song. When the dancing stops, he gets down on his knees and hands over the gifts sent to the person with a personal message to the receiver.
A person who creates an original work can copyright it as the owner but in the event that there is dispute between two authors of the work, then they will be recognized as joint authors of the work.