Fortnite publisher Epic Games has cleared its latest legal hurdles.
According to multiple reports, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, rapper 2 Milly, and social media personality “The Backpack Kid” have dropped their lawsuits against the company. All three popularized dance moves that were later used as Fortnite emotes. The trio were suing developer Epic Games, claiming it infringed on their right of publicity under California law and infringed upon copyrights by including emotes in Fortnite based on dance moves they had popularized.
Best known for playing the character Carlton Banks on the show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Ribeiro’s “Carlton” dance move is included in Fortnite as an emote named “Fresh.” Ribeiro was the first to initiate legal action against the company in December, taking issue with Epic profiting off the move by making it available for purchase in the game client. 2 Milly and Backpack Kid joined soon after, seeking reparations for Fortnite’s use of the Milly Rock and the floss, with the former included in Fortnite under the name “Swipe It.”
While these dance moves do bare striking similarities to the emotes, the legal grounds for suing Epic were shaky.
In an interview with WIN.gg in January, industry lawyer Noah Downs made clear that legal precedent suggested minimal copyright protections for dance moves.
This was reinforced when Ribeiro’s attempt to claim the dance with the US Copyright Office was denied. Though larger choreographed dance pieces can be registered, Ribeiro’s attempt to copyright the Carlton was denied after being deemed “too simple,” per Gameindustry.biz. On March 4, the Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that prospective copyright holders cannot sue while waiting for approval from the US Copyright office.
Days later, CBS Los Angeles reported Ribeiro withdrew from his legal action against Epic. 2 Milly and the Backpack Kid have since followed.
This is a big win for Epic Games, which has profited enormously off of Fortnite entirely through microtransactions such as those used to purchase dance emotes.