Yes, you totally read that headline right. The actor who played ‘Carlton’ on the hit TV show ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ is suing Epic Games for using the ‘Carlton Dance’ in Fortnite. This latest lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar suit filed by rapper ‘2 Milly’ for the use of his dance the ‘Milly Rock’ in the game as well. In game, the dance is referred to as the ‘Fresh’ emote, in an obvious nod to the dance’s roots, but there’s no specific mention of Ribeiro or his character Carlton.
While having two pending lawsuits alleging the same thing never bodes well for anyone, this type of lawsuit can get pretty tricky. There’s no specific precedent for this type of suit, and dance moves specifically, are ridiculously hard to claim as an intellectual property. You can claim a violation of copyright however, but as of writing neither party has a specific copyright awarded for either dance.
Ribeiro’s suit is pretty straight-forward, but 2 Milly’s gets a little murkier. In addition to alleging Epic Games stole his dance, he’s also claiming racial motivation as the main offense. 2 Milly flat out accuses Epic Games of “exploiting African-American talent, by copying their dance moves.” While there are several African-American actors and artists who’ve had their signature moves ported into Fortnite, there’s also a few other dances from rather diverse origins.
The “Jubilation” emote was bred from an episode of Seinfeld, “Hootnanny” comes from Jim Carey in ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ “Chicken” comes from ‘Arrested Development’ and one of the most popular emotes “Orange Justice” was done by ‘Orange Justice Kid,’ who originally ganked it from viral sensation Roy Purdy. So maybe this time the issue is less about race, and more about influential pop culture dances.
Either way, these lawsuits will take a while to actually hit a courtroom. Most of them actually die via settlements before they ever get that far.