What's more viral than a viral dance move? Word that you can sue Epic over emotes, apparently, as yet another lawsuit has been filed against the developer - this time by the mother of the Orange Shirt Kid. Yet unlike its predecessors, the plaintiff gave permission for his dance to be used in the game, making this case rather odd.
The lawsuit filings, as spotted by Variety, allege Epic is guilty of "unauthorised misappropriation" of the Orange Shirt Kid's dance (originally called "the Random"), along with his apparently well-known catchphrase "it's also a great exercise move!".
"Like selling a cheap knockoff, Defendants sold the Random dance in-game and simply renamed it to 'Orange Justice'," the lawsuit states. "Defendants did not credit Orange Shirt Kid nor seek his consent to use, display, reproduce, sell or create a derivative work based upon Orange Shirt Kid's Random dance or likeness in Fortnite."
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.
As Variety highlights, however, the suit does not mention the Orange Shirt Kid willingly entered his dance in Fortnite's BoogieDown contest: a competition to create a new emote for the game. Orange Shirt Kid submitted the dance via a series of (since deleted) tweets - and Epic's terms and conditions for the competition state contestants would not be paid for their submissions, and would also have to hand over the rights. And, to be fair, the emote was never put on sale - as it was given away as a reward on the free Battle Pass.
If you've seen "the youth" doing this dance and wondered about its origins, Orange Shirt Kid became hugely popular in the Fortnite community due to the dance he created for the afore-mentioned BoogieDown contest. But despite the popularity of the dance, Orange Shirt Kid was originally unsuccessful at catching Epic's attention, and only got his dance added after the community mounted a campaign to put it in the game. (Hence the emote's title Orange Justice. Not that you asked.)
It's likely this legal action was emote-ivated by the recent spate of other lawsuits against Epic on the topic of dance moves: including from Backpack Kid (who popularised the Floss dance) and even Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Funnily enough, all of these cases - including the latest Orange Shirt Kid lawsuit - are being handled by the firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP.
It all seems to have spooked some game developers, such as Playground Games, which will today remove Forza Horizon 4's Floss and Carlton avatar emotes as part of its Series 5 update.
Yet unlike these cases, over which there's some room for debate on whether the creators can copyright individual dance moves, the Orange Justice case seems fairly cut and dry. I doubt anyone's getting pop n' locked-away for this.
Get your first month for £1 (normally £3.99) when you buy a Standard Eurogamer subscription. Enjoy ad-free browsing, merch discounts, our monthly letter from the editor, and show your support with a supporter-exclusive comment flair!