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Fortnite and Epic purchase dance rights, get sued over likeness anyway

Published: 10:59, 10 December 2019
Epic Games
Ghoulish Fortnite characters from Fortnitemares
Fortnitemares cosmetics

It seems that Fortnite lawsuits are getting progressively more ridiculous and now Epic Games ended up in court even though they've actually paid for the dance. Unfortunately, the author claims they've infringed the copyright by using his likeness with the dance.

Ironically enough, Epic is in the role of plaintiff this time but let's go from the top. Sweeney and Co actually licensed the dance moves from a viral video by former Omaha news anchor Matthew Geiler, where he does a goofy dance wearing a jack-o'-lantern mask, which is where things get complicated.

Fortnite's event Fortnitemares naturally went with their standard Halloween cosmetics but it was the Pump It Up emote that's in the spotlight here, as the dance is followed with the avatar's head turning into a jack-o-lantern. 

Geiler's company Picnic Media ended up sending Epic a cease and desist order, insisting that Fortnite used his character's likeness without his permission, threating the company with a lawsuit. 

Epic are adamant that this is not the case, arguing that they've created everything from scratch specifically for Fortnite, not to mention that jack-o'-lantern isn't Geiler's property. "Geiler is dressed in a plain black unitard he did not make, wearing as a mask a jack-o'-lantern decoration he did not create, dancing to a song he did not write in front of a static, generic graveyard image", they wrote.

Fortnite's developer asked the judge to rule non-infringement and award them all the attorney fees.

AltChar picture showing two characters dancing Fortnite dance vs Carlton dance

Fortnite and Epic have had quite a few lawsuits stemming from their adaptations of popular, viral and meme-friendly dances, but most of these cases ended up in the trash, quite rightfully so. 

We're actually hoping for a single case that would actually prove how Big Bad Epic did someone wrong, because Fortnite lawsuits are turning into a stream of despicable Get-Some-of-That-Fortnite-Money attempts.

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