Fortnite Dance Lawsuits Dismissed for the Foreseeable Future

Fortnite Dance Lawsuits Dismissed for the Foreseeable Future

Epic Games has been in some hot water over the past few months over the way Fortnite Battle Royale has been using dance moves for their “emotes.” I’m sure you all know what I mean when I say “Fortnite Lawsuit,” but here’s a quick rundown:

It initially gained traction when hip hop and rap artists Chancelor “Chance the Rapper” Bennett and Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson took to social media to ask Epic to give some sort of compensation to the artists who originated those dance. When more and more people’s names became known from their dance in Fortnite, it started to go to the courthouse.

To date, five lawsuits had been filed against Epic over the use of their dance moves: 2 Milly, “Orange Shirt Kid,” James “BlocBoy JB” Baker, and Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning and most notably, Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for his portrayal of Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ribeiro had a lawsuit against Epic over his signature “Carlton” dance. Though it had looked like Ribeiro’s case, at least, might have had a chance to gain some traction in court, it seems now that all of those lawsuits have been dismissed, at least in the short run.

This comes after a Supreme Court ruling in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. changed the way copyright process works. Law firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht was known to be representing all of the five plaintiffs in these cases. In speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Pierce Bainbridge stated this about the changes:

“Previously, plaintiffs could file copyright infringement lawsuits as soon as they applied for a registration with the Copyright Office. Now, plaintiffs have to wait for the Copyright Office to act on that application before filing suit, which, as a result of its backlog, can sometimes take many months.”

Despite this looking like it could be the end of the lawsuits, Bainbridge seem intent on keeping this alive, stating that they will, “continue to vigorously fight for our clients’ rights against those who wrongly take their creations without permission and without compensation.”

For now, these lawsuits will have to be put on hold until the respective “owners” can get copyrights. Thing is, there’s no guarantee they will be granted copyrights. Ribeiro was denied a copyright for The Carlton because the US Copyright office deemed it to be “a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.” If The Carlton couldn’t be copyrighted, it’s hard to see “The Floss”, “Orange Justice”, or “The Shoot” having better luck. Copyright law states that there may need to be a minimum of dance steps and choreographic complexity for any dance to be copyrighted.

All of the legal battles don’t seem to be slowing down Epic all that much, as season 8 of Fortnite Battle Royale recently launched and there are more and more new treasures to be uncovered every day.

If you’ve got thoughts, and I’m sure you all do, feel free to tell us your thoughts over at the Forums or on Twitter using #AskPSNation.

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