Another day, another lawsuit over a Fortnite emote. Epic Games this time have a lawsuit on their hands not because of an actual dance, but sort of a choreography performed by Leo Pellegrino and his likeness while playing the saxophone.
Epic Games are not garnering any love recently with the PC digital store exclusivity deals but love them or hate them, one has to admit these lawsuits are getting out of hand. The latest in the string is the best example.
Leo Pellegrino is suing Epic Games because they used his likeness in the Phone It In emote, which means the lawsuit will not rely on the copyright law. This is where it all gets juicy.
Pellegrino is represented by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, the same law firm that has five other emote-related lawsuits against Epic underway, including Alfonso Ribeiro with the Carlton Dance, the Backpack Kid, 2 Milly, BlocBoy JB and even the Orange Shirt Kid who literally made the dance for a competition so it could be used as an emote in the game.
All of the other five cases are put on hold by the ruling of the Supreme Court as they wait for the confirmation from the US Copyright Office. Pellegrino's lawsuit is different since it doesn't rely on copyright laws but rather his likeness rights.
Therefore, this case will not be put on hold like the other five and will not need to wait for the Copyright Office's response.
According to Verge, Hecht claimed that the emote contains feet pointing outwards, which is Pellegrino's signature because he is duck-footed. If that signature didn't look like much to go on in a legal case, Hecht cited Pellegrino's "love of putting on energetic performances playing the saxophone" as the other one.
While the lawsuit looks slightly flimsier than wet toilet paper, the attention Fortnite will draw to the performer might actually benefit him, especially because he is a part of a rather talented and fairly underrated music group called Too Many Zooz.