The electronic Goliath that is “Fortnite” ― a free, online third-person shooter game known mostly for its battle royale mode ― features an ever-updating array of weapons, environments and even dances, called “emotes.”
But now one of those dances, called “Fresh,” is the subject of a lawsuit from actor Alfonso Ribeiro. Ribeiro played Carlton on the series “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” for which he famously created what pop culture has dubbed “The Carlton Dance.”
Ribeiro is suing both Epic Games, the creator of “Fortnite,” and Take-Two Interactive, the creator of the “NBA 2K” series, for including the dance in their games.
In court documents acquired by HuffPost, Ribeiro and his attorney claim the two companies “have unfairly profited from exploiting Ribeiro’s protected creative expression and likeness,” adding that the dance is “now inextricably linked to Ribeiro and has continued to be a part of his celebrity persona.”
It’s pretty clear that, at least in Fortnight’s case, the dance is inspired by the “Fresh Prince” character.
Not only is the dance (or emote) called “Fresh,” but the music in the background is clearly a take on singer Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.”
In a statement to HuffPost, Ribeiro’s attorney David Hecht wrote:
“It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite. Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh.’ Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property. Therefore, Mr. Ribeiro is seeking his fair and reasonable share of profits Epic has earned by use of his iconic intellectual property in Fortnite and as a result is requesting through the courts that Epic cease all use of Mr. Ribeiro’s signature dance.”
Hecht also represents Brooklyn rapper 2 Milly in a similar suit against Epic for what he and his client believe is the unauthorized use of a signature dance move, “Milly Rock.”
Fortnite has made huge gains in popularity, and recently hit 200 million registered players, with a remarkable 75 million new users joining since June. In March, rapper Drake joined to play with one of the game’s most popular streamers, “Ninja,” aka Tyler Blevins. The two had technical difficulties due to friend requests after Drake’s PlayStation account name went public.
Epic Games and Take Two Interactive did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.