‘Fresh Prince’ Actor Sues Epic Games Over Carlton Dance in Fortnite

By Stefanie Fogel

Brooklyn rapper 2 Milly, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, and Instagram star Backpack Kid are all filing complaints against Epic Games and Take-Two Interactive over dance emotes in “Fortnite” and “NBA 2K,” the law firm representing them told Variety on Monday.

2 Milly filed his suit against Epic Games earlier this month. It claims the game developer misappropriated the “Milly Rock” — a dance he created for a 2014 music video. Epic added a very similar dance emote to “Fortnite” during its fifth season called “Swipe It.” Epic never asked for his permission or compensated him, 2 Milly said. He’s now filing another complaint against Take-Two Interactive, which also uses the Milly Rock in “NBA 2K18.”

Meanwhile, actor Alfonso Ribeiro is filing complaints against Epic Games and Take-Two. Both “Fortnite” and “NBA 2K18” feature versions of “The Carlton” as an emote. Ribeiro created the dance during his time on the television show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It first appeared in the 1991 episode “Will’s Christmas Show.” Twenty-seven years later, it’s still immediately recognizable and Ribeiro continues to perform it for fans. He even inserted it into a 2014 performance on “Dancing With The Stars.” “The Carlton” is inextricably linked to the actor and is a part of his celebrity persona, and both Epic and Take-Two have unfairly profited from his creative expression, likeness, and celebrity without his consent and without compensation, according to a copy of the complaint provided to Variety.

“It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, ‘Fortnite,'” David L. Hecht, a partner at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, said to Variety in a statement. “Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh.’ Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property. Therefore, Mr. Ribeiro is seeking his fair and reasonable share of profits Epic has earned by use of his iconic intellectual property in ‘Fortnite’ and as a result is requesting through the courts that Epic cease all use of Mr. Ribeiro’s signature dance.”

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Instagram personality Backpack Kid is also filing complaints against the two publishers over their use of his dance called “The Floss.” He famously performed it with Katy Perry during the song “Swish Swish” on an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Two days later, Inside Edition published an interview with the teen. That video has received more than 53 million views to date.

Variety has reached out to both Epic Games and Take-Two about the complaints. An Epic Games spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. Take-Two did not immediately respond.