SXSW 2021

Who Owns Viral Dance Moves? How AI can Protect IP


Under U.S. law, a dance move is not copyrightable. So who owns dance moves that go viral? Technology companies have profited from in-game animations of dance moves while refusing to pay the creators for their IP. Unethically divorcing dance moves from their original context and erasing the artists perpetuates the pattern of appropriation, where profits slip away from those who spark viral brilliance. Many content creators don’t receive a fair share for their genius because the ethics of intellectual property are broken. Rather than redistribute wealth, could we pre-distribute wealth and democratize the way that value is created? Is a new model possible?

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  1. Can we own a dance move? Can we develop new technology to solve the problem of appropriation?
  2. What if we can get the assets people create back under their own control, where creators can own their creations and manage them responsibly?
  3. What if there is an internet of dance, creating a shared economy via blockchain — a globally distributed ledger protecting dance movements as assets?



Oṣubi Craig, Director, Center for Arts, Migration and Entrepreneurship, University of Florida

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