Epic is being sued over the Fortnite Running Man emote

Epic Games can add another dance emote lawsuit to the pile, with two former basketball players suing the company over the use of the Running Man emote in Fortnite. The law firm representing the pair allege that Epic misappropriated a dance they popularised in 2016, capitalising on its popularity to sell it to players, especially "younger fans".

This is just the latest lawsuit over Fortnite dance emotes. Rapper 2 Milly, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Alfonso Ribeiro and viral teen Backpack Kid, among others, all have similar lawsuits against Epic.  

The complaint, which you can read here, claims that Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens "created, named and/or popularised" the Running Man dance, which went viral in 2016 when it was posted on YouTube and the pair went on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

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Like the previous lawsuits, it's complicated by the fact that there's no copyright. Brantley and Nickens got a lot of attention for the dance, which the lawsuit claims is "synonymous" with them, but the Running Man Challenge, where the dance was popularised, was apparently started by a pair of high schoolers. The dance has also been traced back to New Jersey club culture.  

The Running Man might not even be eligible if someone tried to apply for a copyright. Alfonso Ribeiro's application was denied because the dance that was originally performed by Ribeiro on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air didn't have a significant amount of authorship and could not be considered a "choreographed work". The routine was too simple.

Brantley and Nickens' lawsuit alleges that they've been damaged by being "precluded from receiving their rightful share of the profits" and that they're entitled to stop Epic from using the emote. 

Cheers, The Verge.


Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.