Several artists have pulled their lawsuits against Epic Games “Fortnite” for use of their dance moves after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that plaintiffs suing for copyright infringement must have their work registered with the US Copyright Office first, according to a report from Law360 via law firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hect.
Alfonso Ribeiro, 2 Milly, the ‘Orange Shirt Kid,’ and ‘The Backpack Kid’ have all voluntarily dismissed their cases against Epic Games for using their dance moves as emotes in “Fortnite,” in order to first register their dances with the US Copyright Office. The cases will be refiled, according to the report from Law360.
Ribeiro, star of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was denied a copyright last month for his famous “Carlton” dance. Ribeiro previously filed a lawsuit against not only the creators of “Fortnite,” but also Take-Two Interactive for the use of the “Carlton” in “NBA 2K16.” The copyright denial stated that because the “Carlton” consists of three dance movements it is not a work of choreography and is thus not protected under copyright law.
In order to successfully sue for copyright infringement, the artists must first obtain a copyright on their dances. Once registration is done, the artists can then sue for copyright infringement, even if the offense occurred prior to registration. This is according to the ruling Fourth Estate Pub. Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC.
“Registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright,” according to the Supreme Court document found via the SCOTUS blog. “Upon registration of the copyright, however, a copyright owner can recover for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.”
The challenge might be for the artists to fully convince the Copyright Office that the dances are more than just a combination of simple dance movements, if Ribeiro’s dismissal is any indication.
The lawsuits against Epic Games’ use of dances grabbed the attention of the public starting last year, and even resulted in some spoof emails claiming to come from Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht sent to the US Copyright Office to try and end the lawsuits.
Still confused why “Fortnite” is getting hit with lawsuits over its in-game dance animations? We broke it all down for you right here on Variety.