Epic critical of Fortnite dance lawsuit, urges court to dismiss case
Epic Games is going on the offensive after being hit with a smorgasbord of lawsuits for allegedly stealing well-known dance moves and using them as emotes in Fortnite.
Fresh Prince star Alfonso Ribeiro, rapper Terrance Ferguson (a.k.a. 2 Milly), and Russell Horning (better known as Backpack Kid), have all filed lawsuits against the company for stealing their respective moves 'The Carlton,' 'Milly Rock,' and 'The Floss.'
All three are now trying to claim the copyright for their dances, and are also seeking damages from Epic for knowingly misappropriating and profiting from their moves.
Epic had been quiet on the matter while the lawsuits stacked up, but has now responded to 2 Milly's lawsuit, and it's clear the company isn't impressed.
In a motion to dismiss filed by Epic's attorney Dale Cendali (spotted by The Hollywood Reporter), Epic suggests that attempting to claim ownership of a dance move is at odds with free speech, and that copyright law does not protect mere ideas and concepts.
"Plaintiff's lawsuit is fundamentally at odds with free speech principles as it attempts to impose liability, and thereby chill creative expression, by claiming rights that do not exist under the law," wrote Cendali on behalf of Epic.
"No one can own a dance step. Copyright law is clear that individual dance steps and simple dance routines are not protected by copyright, but rather are building blocks of free expression, which are in the public domain for choreographers, dancers, and the general public to use, perform, and enjoy."
Epic also refutes the notion that 2 Milly's likeness appears in Fortnite, explaining that any character can use the 'Swipe It' emote (the one allegedly stolen from the rapper) -- none of whom actually look like 2 Milly.
Rather comically, it also points out that 2 Milly has never actually appeared in a battle royale fight to the death as seen in Fortnite, weakening his case even more.
"Plaintiff has made no allegations that Epic Games’ use of his 'likeness' goes beyond Swipe It. Critically, Swipe It can be used with any Fortnite character, none of which Plaintiff alleges share similar physical characteristics to him," continues the motion.
"And Plaintiff has not asserted that he has appeared in a similar setting to Fortnite, namely he has not fought in a battle royale using weapons to kill opponents. These additional elements make the Swipe It emote a transformative use."
Those interested can check out Epic's dismissal motion by clicking here.