Fortnite’s rad new hoverboard mode goes live as Carlton’s dance copyright claim hits a snowdrift

    
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New court documents show that the United States Copyright Office has ruled that Alfonso Ribeiro cannot copyright the dance that he popularized as Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, dealing a blow to Ribeiro’s case against Fortnite creator Epic Games over its use of the dance as an in-game emote.

Although courts “are not bound by the copyright office’s decision and could reach a different conclusion,” it may nevertheless influence the court’s ruling. Rapper 2 Milly, who is also suing Epic for the use of his Milly Rock dance, has also been denied a copyright claim for his dance, though Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning — creator of the now-(in)famous Floss dance — successfully registered a copyright for “a 30-second […] ‘variant'” of the dance.

Meanwhile, in the game itself, Fortnite’s latest content update has gone live, bringing with it a new limited-time item, the Driftboard, and a new LTM that will give players the opportunity to take it for a spin. The Driftboard lets players shred the slopes and their enemies simultaneously, allowing them to commit wholesale, wanton murder with totally rad style.

The new LTM, Driftin’, puts the Driftboard in the spotlight by pitting two teams of 32 players against one another on a map where all chests and ammo boxes have been removed and replaced by constant supply drops, each of which is guaranteed to contain a Driftboard plus weapons and ammo. As always, players will battle it out with one another until only the gnarliest team is left standing — or boarding, as the case may be. For all the details on the Driftboard and the Driftin’ LTM, you can check out the full patch notes on the game’s official site.

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rafael12104

Ah, a hoverboard. That’s what passes for content? Epic, you are going to have to do a whole lot better than that.

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Schmidt.Capela

Like I said before, to win this legal fight against Epic would likely require changing the current Copyright Office policy on simple dance routines not being copyrightable.

Remember Michael Jackson’s “Antigravity Lean”, the dance move from Smooth Criminal where he stops, inclines 45°, and goes back? That one was indeed novel, as it’s actually impossible to do without external help, such wires and harnesses or the specialized shoes which Michael Jackson invented and patented, and even with those shoes it’s a very difficult move that requires a great deal of strength. Despite that, Michael Jackson never could copyright the dance move itself; he had to settle for just the patent on the shoes needed to perform the dance step on stage, meaning anyone using harness and cables or who finds another way to perform the move was free to replicate it.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Yeah when I first read that you could copyright a dance, I thought these guys may have had a bit of a case (not to sue for money because the “dances” needed to be copyrighted before being used, but to sue to stop them from being used).

Then I did more digging and even though we call them dances, they’re actually just basically a few simple moves that aren’t long enough to be copyrighted.

Though as the articles say, the courts could have made decisions not based on copyright law or helped put some new law into existence about “dances” such as these. So it still wasn’t cut and dry, but it basically wasn’t looking good for the people suing them either.

The lawyers obviously knew dance copyright law going into this, that these were too short to qualify and thought they may be able to sue anyway for some reason. Maybe they thought Epic would just pay them to go away or make a deal to split the money being made on them.

It looked like some of those suing thought they were going to be able to copyright the “dances” without really looking into the law to see that they weren’t going to be able to. Or maybe they thought it was a new day and age where a simple move or two repeated over and over could be copyrighted. But they absolutely didn’t fit the current definition of a dance that could be covered by copyright.

Like they said, the floss dance kid had to make a 30 second routine variant out of it to be able to copyright his, though games and stuff can still use the simple floss move as much as they want, they’d have to copy the entire 30 second routine to be able to be sued.

If you don’t know much about the law and do a quick surface scan, it almost seems like they may have had a case to stop Epic. I can imagine the dance creators doing that quick scan and thinking they had cases to sue. I don’t quite get why the lawyers let them go through with this though and didn’t tell them you can’t copyright a move or two. As said they probably either hoped Epic would throw money at them just to make it go away (but it turned out they’d rather go defend it in court) or that there would be something new put in place.

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Schmidt.Capela

A fairly amusing development is the number of people quoting, or even linking, the Copyright Office Circular 52 as being proof that those “dances” can be registered when the circular explicitly states the exact opposite.

As for the lawyers allowing the case to go ahead: a lot of money to be made if they succeed, Epic being on shaky moral ground (they did make use of dance steps popularized by others to make money without even acknowledging it), and the lawyers likely working an agreement with the people they represent where if they win they get a percentage of the proceedings, but if they lose the lawyers get paid nothing or close to nothing.

Heck, that law firm actually hired people to play games looking for other “dances” they can find the “authors” of; I find that behavior to be quite close to what is derogatorily labeled “ambulance chasing”.

Veldara
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Veldara
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Utakata

It’s almost if the courts where saying, “Stop wasting our time!” o.O