Now Backpack Kid Is Suing Epic Over A Fortnite Dance

It's not easy to prove you own a dance though.

84 Comments

Update: In what's becoming a trend, the latest lawsuit to be filed over a Fortnite dance comes from the so-called Backpack Kid, who is known for the Floss dance. Like the other suits, this might prove to be a difficult argument in court, and matters are made more complex given his apparent involvement in a previous Fortnite promotional event. According to TMZ, the 16-year-old himself doesn't seem especially bothered by the dance's usage, suggesting his mother and manager are responsible for the lawsuit. In the meantime, Fortnite updates and events aren't slowing down. The original story follows.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Alfonso Ribeiro, who starred as the show's Carlton, is suing Epic Games. Ribeiro's law firm said the the actor is accusing the studio of stealing his dance--commonly referred to by fans of the show as the Carlton dance--for the "Fresh" emote in Fortnite.

According to TMZ, Ribeiro is currently in the process of filing for the copyright for the dance. This announcement comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed against Epic. Terrance Ferguson accused Epic of stealing his Milly Rock dance for Fortnite's "Swipe It" emote, an act he describes as a pattern the studio has for "exploiting African-American talent in particular in Fortnite by copying their dances and movements." Ribeiro is mentioned as another example of this in Ferguson's lawsuit.

Epic has seen several legal disputes when it comes to Fortnite. PUBG Corp., the creators of PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, sued Epic over a concern "that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known." However, the lawsuit was ultimately dropped. Epic hasn't always been on the receiving end of a lawsuit either. The studio sued a QA tester who leaked Fortnite Season 4 secrets, as well as a few streamers for advertising Fortnite cheats.

When it comes to outside the court room, Epic has been enjoying the growing success of Fortnite--which is the number one searched game on Google in 2018. After finding success with cross-platform play on Fortnite between Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC, and mobile devices, Epic Games is sharing its technology with other developers looking to do the same. The studio also launched its own PC game store that offers an enticing alternative to Steam.

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Imajinn

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That dance has been around before "Carlton" ? Is he serious?

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NativePixel

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@imajinn: no it hasn’t ??‍♂️

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Imajinn

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@nativepixel: look around. Youll find it in 80s vids

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Rovelius

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"an enticing alternative to Steam"

lol

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sonicare

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Fargin lawyers.

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James_xeno

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*facepalm*

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PenguinHero7

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As much as I dislike Fortnite, this is a bit ridiculous. It's a freaking dance! It's like if anyone who did the moonwalk, had to pay royalties to the Michael Jackson estate (even though he didn't invent the dance, as I'm sure Alfonso Ribeiro didn't invent the "Carlton"). I remember back a few years ago, that the scumbags that make the Candy Crush games were trying to trademark the word "candy". Trademarks are seriously getting ridiculous.

I hope Epic wins this case.

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OldDadGamer

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@PenguinHero7: Actually, the moonwalk is copyrighted. Until last year, so was "Happy Birthday." But that doesn't mean that you'd have to pay Michael Jackson's estate or whoever owned the copyright to Happy Birthday if you did it or sang it at a birthday party. You'd have to pay if you used it for financial gain, say, doing the moonwalk as part of a dance routine you sold tickets to, or singing happy birthday in a movie you sold tickets to (seriously. Until last year, every time you heard people sing Happy Birthday in a movie, some dude got paid).

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NaturallyEvil

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@PenguinHero7: Actually, the Candy Crush thing was even dumber than that. They tried to say they invented the term "Saga" and were trying to sue other games like Banner Saga for using it.

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pizzaboy66

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These guys are clearly doing it for relevancy. They can't own body movements and people reference dance moves all the time. That's one of the consequences of having something popular, it's going to get referenced.

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Pyrosa

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You can't copyright movements of the human body.

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wicked_laugh

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@Pyrosa: you sure as heck can copyright choreography and dances.

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J_aaron

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@wicked_laugh: Actually, no you can't. For proof, I want you to try to copyright walking. A dance move, no matter how specific, is nothing more than moving your body exactly like walking.

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OldDadGamer

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OldDadGamer  Moderator

@J_aaron: Wicked's right. You can copyright choreography. Anything that's artistic expression. It's why if you go see a revival of a Broadway show it sometimes says "With the original choreography!" They paid for the rights to that, and you're darn right they're going to advertise it.

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ZmanBarzel

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@J_aaron: You most certainly can copyright choreography.

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ52.pdf

However, you can’t copyright a dance move. It’s going to fall on the judge/jury to determine whether “The Carlton” crosses from one to the other.

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OldDadGamer

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@zmanbarzel: Well said, dude. You a lawyer?

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chopsbenedict

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Using the name fresh is advertising that its someone elses. Fingers crossed for Ribiero. Im honestly surprised that he hadnt filed already! One big question Id ask is - is it Ribiero's or the owners of Fresh Prince? spitballing Id say if it was choreographed or directed its more likely to be realistically owned by the company, but if improvised, more likely his, but im not a patent officer!

Ferguson the same, but Id point out that trying to make it racial (even if true) is both beside the point and less likely to be successful in court, it splits your argument and means the decision is less likely solely based on patent law, and increasingly likely on people's racial emotions. Its not illegal to steal ideas from people because they're black, its just illegal to steal ideas (the word steal with a litany of exceptions and qualifications of course).

Is there a precedent? WoW used Jackson Thriller for the male Night Elf, and he was still alive, was there litigation? maybe they just paid him for it up front I would love to know, its certainly directly applicable here.

Does the fact that the game is free play into a decision? does anyone know if this is a microtransaction purchased emote or open to everyone?

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shadowwarrior4

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@chopsbenedict: its not even his he copied it from Eddie Murphy something about white people dancing , its one of his jokes during his comedy thing called "Eddie Murphy Raw" or something like that

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chopsbenedict

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@shadowwarrior4: ooh much more constructive than pizza child! I feel like you're right! I remember something like that from Raw but its been a few years. Id have to look at them one after the other. It sorta sounds like you haven't seen Raw, if not i highly recommend it, its hilarious.

I am largely against copyright law as a whole, though my post suggests otherwise, its meant from a legal realist point of view that fortnight uses the talent and ideas of others to make money and not their own. For example I side with Epic vs PUBG, its a game type and not specific enough for violation of any patent real or potential.

whether or not Ribiero is successful in either a patent or court case, do you think its reasonable, or moral, for dances to be uncopyrightable? (given that copyright and patent law is real and enforceable) why? or why not? we live in a democracy and it is we who ultimately decide what is and isnt legal!

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pizzaboy66

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Edited By pizzaboy66

@chopsbenedict: Lol “pizza child”. You couldn’t have come up with something more childish I guess. Besids nothing in my original comment was childish

And you clearly know nothing about copyright if you think you can sue for body movements. Game companies reference stuff like that all the time (hell, TF2 has the same dance), these guys are only trying to get some attention.

P.S It takes much more effort to misspell Fortnite

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pizzaboy66

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Edited By pizzaboy66

@chopsbenedict: "Using the name fresh is advertising that its someone elses. Fingers crossed for Ribiero"

Fresh can mean literally anything else. It's a common word. Benedict Cumberbatch might as well sue you for using the word Benedict in your username then. And you still can't own or sue for body movements.

What are you even talking about anyway? Your comment makes no sense.

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chopsbenedict

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@pizzaboy66: literally you should literally get a literal dictionary of literacy. Literally.

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pizzaboy66

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@chopsbenedict: Thanks for literally avoiding the rest of my comment.

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cheeseweasel24

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Wait a damn minute. He's in the PROCESS of applying for the copyright. He's trying to sue for something he doesn't even have the copyright for, some 25+ years after he performed it?

How is this not complete bulls**t?

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Pyrosa

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@cheeseweasel24: This is indeed complete bullsh!t.

Lindsay Lohan says hello.

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el_swanno

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@Pyrosa:

To be fair, Lindsay really thought she was a cartoon character from a loading screen. I believe she lost the lawsuit after her parents reluctantly stepped forward and acknowledged she was a real human being.

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Jinzo_111887

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@cheeseweasel24: Actually, works here in the US are automatically copyrighted.

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cheeseweasel24

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@Jinzo_111887: ...but not necessarily by the artist performing the work, especially as part of a larger work. Again, he is in the PROCESS of applying for the copyright- he may not even be granted the copyright, so how can he sue over something he doesn't have legal ownership of? It just seems like this is a blatant cash grab by Mr. Ribiero. He probably hadn't even thought about copyrighting it until someone brought up Fortnite.

If he had tried to copyright it before, I'd say sure, go for it, although in all honesty I doubt he's going to end up getting anything out of it. I mean, it's a video game. Might as well dig up Michael Jackson and let his corpse sue Saints Row and all of the other games that includes a Michael Jackson wiggly leg dance.

Homage, satire, fair use- there's just too many legal loopholes (not to mention again, copyrighting a 25-year old DANCE???) for anyone to jump through to make this even make sense, much less win a lawsuit.

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OldDadGamer

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Edited By OldDadGamer  Moderator

@cheeseweasel24: While you're right that there are plenty of exceptions (homage, satire, fair use), the reason we have courts is to determine whether those apply. Yes, there are hoops to jump through, but it's hard to win any lawsuit. Doesn't mean people don't win them.

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BarcaAzul

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Seriously, it's becoming ridiculous if a dance is copyrighted.

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deathBRINGER201

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Alfonso can also sue Bungie for the same dance in their game, it's even called "the carlton" XD

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J_aaron

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@deathBRINGER201: Except he won't because even he would have to know that would be a fight against Microsoft. It's pretty silly that he thinks that Epic would have any less impressive lawyers than Microsoft.

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