Our discussion today regarding the ability to copyright certain “signature” moves in games reminded me of Fortnite and some recent controversy that I’d like to share. Fortnite, like many multiplayer games, allows users to “emote” (i.e. the player’s avatar or character will project certain actions like a thumbs-up or dance for other players to see). Some of these emotes are unlockable or otherwise available to purchase in-game (see example of a John Cena avatar from Fortnite emoting below).
I remember a few years ago a dancer attempted to sue Epic Games for allegedly using their dance, “the floss” as an emote, without their consent (see: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/02/12/694033450/fortnite-vs-backpack-kid-dance-battle-royale). More recently, a choreographer also attempted to sue Epic Games for using his dance moves as an emote (see https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/choreographer-sues-epic-fortnite-emote-kyle-hanagami-rcna23075).