“Fortnite” maker Epic Games faces at least two lawsuits this week from celebrities who have accused the publisher of illegally profiting from their dance moves.
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The popular video game allows users to buy “emotes” for their characters, such as viral dance moves. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who portrayed Carlton Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” argues that one such emote, entitled “Fresh,” is virtually identical to the infamous “Carlton Dance” his character performed throughout the TV series’ run. In the lawsuit, Ribeiro states that he’s in the process of copyrighting the dance.
"It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite," Ribeiro’s attorney said in documents obtained by TMZ. "Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like “Fresh.” Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."
In a separate lawsuit, “Backpack Kid,” who shot to fame for popularizing a dance move he called “the floss,” accused Epic Games of ripping off the dance, TMZ reported.
Epic Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuits.
“Fortnite” is among the world’s most-played video games, with more than 200 million registered users as of November, according to Bloomberg. The game earns hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per month.
Take-Two Interactive, the maker of the popular “NBA 2K” video games series, faces similar lawsuits from Ribeiro and other celebrities. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.