I’ve no doubt you remember the spate of celebrities who decided to take legal action against Epic Games because Fortnite pinched their dance moves. Well, there’s been a development in this, the legal battle of the century.
In a win for Epic Games, but a pretty serious blow against the artists who thought they had a case, the US Supreme Court has ruled that plaintiffs suing for copyright infringement can’t pursue legal action if their work wasn’t previously registered with the US Copyright Office.
Stars that have that publicly started legal action against Epic Games include Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton of Fresh Prince fame), as well as rapper 2 Milly, Backpack Kid, and Orange Shirt Kid.
Strangely, all of the above are actually being represented by the same firm: Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP. I imagine it wasn’t a great day in the office for these guys after the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Ribeiro, 2 Milly, Orange Shirt Kid and The Backpack Kid have all voluntarily dropped their lawsuits, though the firm claims the decision was a “purely procedural” matter and that all suits will be re-filed after the plaintiffs have completed their Copyright Office registrations.
Attorney David Hecht told THR:
We will continue to vigorously fight for our clients’ rights against those who wrongly take their creations without permission and without compensation.
It is worth pointing out that Riberiro did actually recently try to copyright his sweet moves, but was told by the US Copyright Office that it “must refuse registration because the work submitted for registration is a simple dance routine.”
So, is this an unwinnable case for Riberiro and friends? The fight continues, and I’ll be watching on with what I can only describe as a mild disinterest.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.