The judge has ruled to dismiss the copyright violation lawsuit against Epic Games for the “Running Man” emote on its Battle Royale classic Fortnite.
In February last year, Epic Games made headlines after getting sued once again for copyright infringement involving Fortnite. Basically, the “Running Man” emote is one of the celebratory dances in Fortnite.
The Plaintiffs are Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley who are former basketball players for the University of Maryland. They made the “Running Man Challenge” dance viral on social media in 2016.
They were also invited to perform in The Ellen DeGeneres Show, along with the two then-New Jersey high school students—the original dance move creators.
The ex-basketball players’ claims
What Nickens and Brantley are claiming is that the game emote is awfully identical and distinctively recognizable to the dance they made viral—which they’re also taking credit for, even if it wasn’t them who created the move.
Accordingly, the plaintiffs are accusing Epic Games of “invasion of privacy, unfair competition and unjust enrichment based on preemption under the Copyright Act.” The lawsuit prayed for more than $5 million worth of damages after claiming that their identities have been “misappropriated” with what the gaming giant did.
Their attorney, Richard Jaklitsch, told ESPN that what Epic Games has done is “un-American” to “profit off the backs of” the plaintiffs.
Judge’s decision on the case
The media outlet highlights that U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm of Maryland gave its decision on the case last Friday. Accordingly, the “Copyright Act preempts claims” made by Nickens and Brantley on its complaint filed in 2019 against Epic Games Inc.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Judge Grimm questions whether or not the plaintiffs have a valid claim that protects their right under the Copyright Act.
An excerpt of Judge Grimm’s decision reads:
“Plaintiffs seek to place the same square peg into eight round holes in search of a cause of action against Epic Games for its use of the Running Man dance in its game Fortnite. But Plaintiffs’ claims that Epic Games copied the dance do not support any of their theories.”
Furthermore, the subsequent trademark claims, unfair competition accusations, and “false designation of origin” were also dismissed by the federal judge based on the Lanham Act.
Lawsuits have loomed Epic Games’ Fortnite
This isn’t Epic Games’ first lawsuit for its Battle Royale classic. Apparently, other personalities have also accused the company of copyright infringement over its in-game celebratory dances.
Rappers 2 Milly and BlocBoy JB, viral stars “Orange Shirt Kid” and Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning have also tried to take legal actions against the game’s “copied” dance depictions.
Alfonso Ribeiro, a The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor, attempted as well for his 1990s famed “Carlton” dance but he, later on, withdrew after getting denied by the U.S. Copyright Office of its copyright.
Featured image courtesy of VazzyCow/YouTube Screenshot