Last year, Epic Games found itself the target of lawsuits from a number of plaintiffs, claiming that Fortnite: Battle Royale was profiting from their copyright and likeness. Now, the US Supreme Court has put a temporary wedge in the cases, ruling that litigants have no case if their work is not recognised within the US Copyright Office.
Lawsuits were filed by rapper 2 Milly, Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro, and internet sensations Backpack Kid and Orange Shirt Kid, each for dances that they claim were created by them or represent their likeness in some way. Unfortunately, as PCGamesN points out, the ruling known as Fourth Estate Pub. Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC stipulates that all works must be registered with the US Copyright Office before a case can be enforced.
Ribeiro attempted to bolster his case by getting the “Fresh” dance copyrighted, but was subsequently denied as the moves were too “simple” to be considered “a choreographic work.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, all plaintiffs have voluntarily dropped their case temporarily while they attempt to see their dances recognised by the Office.
“We will continue to vigorously fight for our clients’ rights against those who wrongly take their creations without permission and without compensation,” states attorney David Hecht who represents the four clients. Since all lawsuits were dropped without prejudice, each can be refilled once the US Copyright Office has accepted their filing. In the likely even that this doesn’t happen however, this could very well be the end of the line for the artists.
KitGuru Says: I honestly can’t see the US Patent Office changing its stance, particularly as each dance is rather simplistic in nature and some aren’t even the verified creators. Still, it will be interesting to see how things progress if the artists manage to push past this roadblock.