On January 23, 2019, Memphis rapper, Blocboy JB, filed a complaint in California federal court against Epic Games Inc. for allegedly using his signature dance moves in their well-know game “Fortnite” without his permission.
Blocboy JB, whose real name is James Baker, claims Epic Games copied the dance he created for his 2017 song “Shoot,” and programmed Fortnite characters to perform the moves if players make in-game purchases. “Like selling a cheap knockoff, defendants sold the Shoot dance in-game and simply renamed it to ‘Hype’…However, the Hype and the Shoot are one and the same,” the complaint states.
The complaint further adds that Epic Games shouldn’t be allowed to make money off dance moves the plaintiff invented, and that the company’s use of the routine has caused confusion about the origin of the song and dance, which he says “he busts out at every performance.”
Blocboy isn’t the first to bring suit over dance routines allegedly swiped by the game maker. As featured in our January 2, 2019 article, Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor who played Carlton Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” sued Epic Games and another video game maker alleging the companies stole the choreography of the famous “Carlton Dance” without his permission. That article also mentioned 2 Milly, the rapper who originated the “Milly Rock” dance craze in 2014, who claimed the video game maker infringed his copyright when it used his dance in “Fortnite.”
Blocboy is alleging violations of federal copyright and trademark laws, as well as violations of California state laws against unfair competition and wrongful use of a person’s public image. He is seeking unspecified damages, including any profits Epic Games earned from “Hype,” as well as an order barring the game maker from continuing to use the dance moves.
Blocboy JB is represented by David L. Hecht, Carolynn Beck and Daniel Dubin of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP.
Counsel information for Epic Games is not yet available.
The case is Baker et al. v. Epic Games Inc. et al., case number 2:19-cv-00505, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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