Litigation over allegedly stolen dance moves in the popular game Fortnite has been paused in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning copyright infringement.
The high court unanimously ruled March 4 that copyright owners have to wait for the U.S. Copyright Office to grant or refuse their applications for registration before pursuing copyright infringement claims in court. Many plaintiffs in the past have sought applications for registration mere days before taking their claims to court, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This decision will put an end to that, except in limited circumstances.
However, it was mere days after the Supreme Court decision that all the high-profile lawsuits against Fortnite maker Epic Games were dropped.
The plaintiffs in the string of lawsuits claiming unauthorized use of dance moves for game “emotes” in Fortnite include rapper 2 Milly, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, and internet stars Backpack Kid and Orange Shirt Kid. The plaintiffs are each represented by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht.
Ribeiro, who had been suing Epic Games over the appropriation of his “Carlton Dance,” made famous on the TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” hit a snag last month when the Copyright Office denied his registration request. The office found the “Carlton Dance” to be a “simple dance routine.” Epic Games had used a similar argument against 2 Milly, who claimed the company had used his “Milly Rock” dance for Fortnite‘s “Swipe It” emote.
David Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge says the dismissals are purely procedural and temporary.
“The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com brought forth a major change in copyright law in much of the country,” he said in an email to gaming site Kotaku. “To best conform with the law as it stands in light of the Supreme Court decision, our clients have dismissed their current lawsuits and will refile them. We will continue to vigorously fight for our clients’ rights against those who wrongly take their creations without permission and without compensation.”