Judges Tosses Players’ Fortnite Dance Lawsuit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which two former University of Maryland men’s basketball players accused makers of the “Fortnite” video game of misappropriating a dance move that the ex-teammates popularized.

U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm in Maryland ruled Friday that the Copyright Act preempts claims that Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley filed in February 2019 against Epic Games Inc., creator of the wildly popular online shooting game.

Nickens and Brantley claimed the Cary, North Carolina-based company misappropriated their identities by digitally copying the “Running Man Challenge” dance that they performed in social media videos and on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2016.

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Their copyright infringement lawsuit claimed the “Running Man” dance “emote” that Fortnite players can purchase for their characters is identical to the dance that Nickens and Brantley took credit for creating.

The judge said the key question is whether plaintiffs have a claim that is “qualitatively different” than the rights protected by the Copyright Act.

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