Epic Games just scored a victory in one the lawsuits levied against its game Fortnite.
The insanely-popular and highly addictive video game Fortnite came under fire when it was accused of jacking popular dances and selling them as “emotes” in the online shooter. Former Maryland men’s basketball players Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley saw U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm in Maryland toss their lawsuit against the game.
ESPN reports that Grimm ruled on Friday (May.29) “that the Copyright Act preempts claims that Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley filed in February 2019 against Epic Games Inc., creator of the wildly popular online shooting game.”
Initially, Nickens and Brantley claimed that Epic Games “misappropriated their identities” when the North Carolina-based company jacked the “Running Man” challenge dance moves and digitally copied it into the game. But interestingly enough, Nickens and Brantley didn’t create the dance, two high school students from New Jersey, Kevin Vincent, and Jeremiah Hall invented the dance. Nickens and Brantley helped it go viral.
According to ESPN, Nickens and Brantley copyright lawsuit claimed “the “Running Man” emote — a celebratory dance in Fortnite — that players can purchase for their characters is identical to the dance that Nickens and Brantley took credit for creating.”
In his explanation, Grimm pointed out that the critical question is if the plaintiffs had a claim that is “qualitatively different” from the rights the Copyright Act protects.
“And here Plaintiffs claim is based on Epic Games allegedly ‘capturing and digitally copying’ the Running Man dance to create the Fortnite emote that ‘allows the player’s avatars to execute the Running Man identically to Plaintiffs’ version. This is squarely within the rights protected by the Copyright Act,” Grimm explained.
Grimm also threw out their “claims for invasion of privacy, unfair competition and unjust enrichment based on preemption under the Copyright Act.” He also tossed their “trademark claims and claims accusing the company of unfair competition and “false designation of origin” under the Lanham Act.
“Plaintiffs seek to place the same square peg into eight round holes in search of a cause of action against Epic Games for its use of the Running Man dance in its game Fortnite. But Plaintiffs’ claims that Epic Games copied the dance do not support any of their theories.”
Nickens and Brantley were seeking $5 million in damages. They weren’t the only people to sue Epic Games, rapper 2 Milly, Fresh Prince of Bel Aire star Alfonso Ribeiro also tried to get some coins from the game studio. Ribeiro dropped his lawsuit last year after the U.S. Copyright Office denied him copyright for the “Carlton” dance.
We still hope Epic Games does the right thing and throw some cash their way for dance moves.
Photo: The Washington Post / Getty