Former Maryland basketball players sue 'Fortnite,' saying it stole their viral Running Man dance
By The Associated Press
Feb 26, 2019 | 7:05 PM
A lawsuit says the "Running Man" dance that "Fortnite" players can purchase for their characters is identical to the dance that two former University of Maryland men's basketball players created.
Two former University of Maryland men's basketball players are suing the makers of "Fortnite," claiming the video game's creators misappropriated a dance they popularized online.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday in Maryland, accuses North Carolina-based Epic Games of unfairly profiting from the "Running Man Challenge" dance that Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley performed in social media videos and on Ellen DeGeneres' TV show in 2016.
The suit says the "Running Man" dance that "Fortnite" players can purchase for their characters is identical to the dance that Nickens and Brantley created.
Other artists, including Brooklyn-based rapper 2 Milly and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star Alfonso Ribeiro, also have sued Epic Games over other dances depicted in the game.
In response to the lawsuit Ribeiro filed in California, Epic Games attorneys argued that “no one can own a dance step or a simple dance routine.”
“Fundamentally, this suit is at odds with free speech principles as it attempts to impose liability, and thereby chill creative expression, by claiming rights that (Ribeiro) does not and could not hold,” they wrote in a court filing last Friday, urging the court to throw out his lawsuit.
The U.S. Copyright Office denied Ribeiro a copyright for the “Carlton” dance that his character performed on the 1990s sitcom.
“Copyright law is clear that no one can own individual dance steps or simple dance routines made up of multiple steps as they are building blocks of free expression, which are not protected by copyright,” company attorneys wrote.
Nickens and Brantley appeared on DeGeneres’ talk show alongside two New Jersey high school students who were posting videos of the dance online before the two University of Maryland basketball players filmed their own version. Brantley told DeGeneres that Nickens first showed him the dance in a video on Instagram.