Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro is suing Epic Games and 2K Games for using a signature dance he made famous without consent.
For several months now, the artists behind some of Fortnite’s most iconic moves have been calling on developer Epic to compensate them or "put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes".
Rapper 2 Milly recently filed a similar suit against Epic Games for replicating and selling his dance moves in Fortnite. 2 Milly was only made aware of the dance when fans contacted him over social media. He said Epic "took his craft and sold it as their own", and while he’s "not trying to ruin the game for anyone", he wants the "Swipe It" dance removed and fair compensation.
Ribeiro’s attorney, David Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP – the same law firm representing 2 Milly – told TMZ (thanks, Videogamer): "It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite."
"Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh’," the statement added. "Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."
Ribeiro is purportedly in the process of trying to copyright the dance as he brings suits against Epic for using his dance in Fortnite, and 2K for using it in its NBA 2K series. Interestingly, there’s no precedent case law a copyrighting choreography, and patents for individual dance moves cannot be made to the US Copyright Office due to creative choreographic expression.
As yet, neither Epic nor 2K have commented on the case.
"This isn’t the first time that Epic Games has brazenly misappropriated the likeness of African-American talent," the law firm added when taking action on behalf of 2 Milly. "Our client Lenwood ‘Skip’ Hamilton is pursuing similar claims against Epic for use of his likeness in the popular ‘Cole Train’ character in the Gears of Wars video game franchise. Epic cannot be allowed to continue to take what does not belong to it."