Lawsuits over Fortnite’s dance emotes hit a legal snag

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has sent several lawsuits over Fortnite’s use of popular dance moves as in-game emotes back to the drawing board. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro, hip hop artist 2 Milly, and other creatives whose signature dances appear in Fortnite have temporarily dropped their suits against Epic in order to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

In that ruling (Fourth Estate Pub. Benefit Corp. v., LLC, which you can read in .pdf format here), that before someone can sue over copyright infringement, they first have to register their work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Importantly, their right to sue over infringement remains even if the Copyright Office decides not to register their copyright, but the Supreme Court ruling means that this process must be completed before they sue.

This means most of the parties suing Epic over the dances they created showing up in Fortnite have an administrative hoop to jump through before they can proceed with their lawsuits. Only Ribeiro, the creator of the ‘Carlton’ dance, has gotten a decision back from the Copyright Office. Last month, the office refused to register his claim as the owner of the dance move.

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