Recently there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the dance emotes in Epic's popular shooter, Fortnite. Dancers and celebrities are suing the company for copyright infringement, claiming that the developer stole their dance moves/intellectual property without giving proper credit. As the lawsuits are going forward full steam, a lawyer on YouTube has made a video explaining the legislation behind the case while also giving a professional opinion on who might win.
The YouTuber called LegalEagle begins by explaining that one can, in fact, copyright a dance, even though this legislation was only recently introduced. Since that is the case, and since Fortnite has copied 2 Milly's, Alfonso Ribeiro's, “The Backpack Kid's”, and a bunch of other popular dances almost frame by frame, it may be considered as copyright infringement. LegalEagle continues to explain, though, that this might not always be the case, as these dance moves are not necessarily original choreographies, but are products of popular culture that have just been made famous by each of the dancers/celebrities.
Towards the end of the video, LegalEagle gives his opinion on who might win the lawsuit, and begins by explaining that the plaintiff will probably argue that these Fortnite dances are instantly recognizable and should therefore be protected by copyright law, even though they are short. In his opinion, the defendant would then argue that this is not the case, as these dance moves are not minimally creative and that they are standard dance moves that one can find anywhere.
The lawyer then concludes that he thinks that the defendants have the better argument and that Epic might win the court case based on the fact that the dances used in Fortnite are social dances, rather than long choreographed works of art. This case could go either way, though, as both parties have very good arguments to make and because a case like this has never been seen before. It will be interesting to see how this emote lawsuit will pan out, and whether Epic will win as LegalEagle predicts.
Fortnite is available now in early access on Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.