A Fortnite lawsuit centered this time around the game’s “Running Man” emote was dismissed recently by a judge after it was initially filed in 2019 on the behalf of Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley. Nickens and Brantley are both former University of Maryland basketball and are credited with popularizing the Running Man Challenge years ago and, like others who took legal action against Fortnite and Epic Games for the inclusion of its many emotes, alleged that their dance had been misappropriated and its likeness was being used in Fortnite for profit. Similar cases in the past have also been dismissed.
The copyright infringement lawsuit was filed in February 2019 after the dance was popularized in 2016 and became a viral sensation. Lawsuits such as this one have attempted to prove that Epic Games used people’s likenesses as well as their unique dance moves and other movements in the game as emotes for players to equip and use. Since these emotes are almost always sold, it’s been alleged that Epic Games is profiting off these dance moves and actions created by others.
Both Nickens and Brantley were seeking $5 million in damages from the copyright lawsuit before it was dismissed.
While several lawsuits have been brought against Epic Games for this very reason, this one that’s just been dropped is one of the outliers in the sense that its resolution came much later than others did. A month after the lawsuit from Nickens and Brantley was filed, it was reported that several similar lawsuits were dismissed. These included lawsuits on the behalf of individuals like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro and the party representing Orange Shirt Kid and others which were dismissed after similar decisions were made about the lawsuits. In each instance, it was found that the use of the emotes, dances, or other actions in the game were protected since the people who popularized the dances didn’t technically own the moves.
Fortnite emotes have been continually added to the game during every season, so expect many more to be added when Chapter 2 Season 3 begins. The current season is scheduled to end in the coming days with a big event dubbed “The Device” set to take place this weekend to usher in the new season. Chapter 2 Season 3 begins on June 11th, so expect to see a full breakdown of what’s included when the season begins.
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