Epic Games is no stranger to lawsuits regarding various emotes in Fortnite Battle Royale and now they will be adding one more to the growing list, this one coming from musician Leo Pellegrino. Pellegrino alleges that Epic Games has used his likeness when creating the “Phone It In” dance emote in Fortnite. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Epic Games has unjustly profited off of Pellegrino’s likeness without his permission.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28u2jATbvE4
This lawsuit comes just only two months after the US Copyright Office denied a claim from actor Alfonso Ribeiro for the “Carlton Dance”. The US Copyright Office found it was “not registrable as a choreographic work.” The main difference in Pellegrino’s case is that it is focused on the misappropriation of his identity and likeness instead of being focused on a single dance move. Due to this difference the lawsuit might not be as easy to decide for the courts. Pellegrino states in the filing that his “duck footed” style is a direct result of his “unique anatomy”. He goes on to state that because of his “externally rotatable feet” he was able to develop his own dancing style and original movements.
So far no one has won a case against Epic Games with claims similar to Pellegrino’s in regards to Fortnite’s emotes. Besides Ribeiro there have been several other cases brought against Epic Games over emotes including from “Backpack Kid” (Anita Redd, his mother, filed on his behalf), Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson, and "Orange Shirt Kid". All of those lawsuits have since been dropped and at this point have not been refiled by any of the parties involved.
Do you think Leo Pellegrino has more of a chance with his lawsuit than the others before him? Do you think Epic Games should be compensating the creators of dances that they use for their Fortnite emotes? Let us know in the comments below!