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Fortnite has taken the video game and pop culture worlds by storm, and now it’s at the center of a series of legal battles over digital dance moves.
Former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro brings the latest complaint, after Rapper 2 Milly earlier this month sued over his “Milly Rock” dance and influencer Backpack Kid sued over “The Floss,” which went viral after the teen’s appearance with Katy Perry on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Ribeiro says his signature move “The Carlton Dance” — which became famous on a 1991 episode of the hit series — was copied in Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale.
“Defendants capitalized on Alfonso Ribeiro’s celebrity and popularity by selling The Dance as an in-game purchase in Fortnite under the name ‘Fresh,’ which players can buy to customize their avatars for use in the game,” writes attorney Carolynn Kyungwon Beck in the complaint.
The actor and the dance are now “inextricably linked” and Ribeiro is “constantly inundated” with requests to perform it, which he obliged on a 2014 episode of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and at a celebrity golf tournament in 2016 alongside Justin Timberlake.
Ribeiro claims Epic consistently exploits African-American talent by copying their dances, specifically mentioning Snoop Dogg, Will Smith and Donald Faison, among others. He is suing for copyright infringement, violation of the right of publicity and unfair competition and is seeking punitive damages and an injunction that would bar Fortnite from using the dance as an emote.
It remains to be seen whether orange t-shirt kid has a claim over the Orange Justice emote, which former first lady Michelle Obama and Santa Claus recently demonstrated. That dance became part of the game after the internet rallied behind a young fan who competed in Fortnite‘s Boogiedown contest and came in 23rd.
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