The lawsuits regarding Fortnite dances have temporarily been dropped, but are expected to be resubmitted in the near future. According to a statement by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Heck, the firm representing Alfonso Ribeiro, 2 Milly, Orange Shirt Kid, and Backpack Kid (Russell Horning), in the wake of a new Supreme Court decision, the current lawsuits were dismissed. The decision, made in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC on March 4, states that a copyright owner may only file for infringement after the copyright has been granted, not just after the application had been submitted as previously interpreted.
“Our Fortnite and NBA 2K cases were filed under the previous standard, with our applications pending before the Copyright Office at the time we filed our lawsuits,” reads the statement by Pierce Bainbridge. “To best conform with the law as it stands in light of the Supreme Court decision, our clients will dismiss their current lawsuits and refile them.” The statement ends by saying that the firm will “continue to vigorously fight for [their] clients’ rights” even after the ruling.
Alfonso Ribeiro’s case, in particular, could be the trickiest with the new ruling after his copyright claim of the “Carlton Dance” was denied on the grounds that it had too few steps to be considered a choreographed dance. Though the statement by Pierce Bainbridge did not single out the case, it can be assumed that his case will also be resubmitted with the others once the copyright for their dances are approved. However, the statement does make mention of Backpack Kid and Orange Shirt Kid receiving their copyright registrations, but not before beginning the suit against Epic Games.
With the setback from the Supreme Court regarding copyright claims, as well as Ribeiro’s claim denial, what once seemed like a surefire coordinated effort by the artists who claim their intellectual works were misappropriated now seems in doubt. More pieces appear to be falling in place for Epic rather than the artists themselves, and that could end up being a big problem for Pierce Bainbridge. Only time will tell which way the court will vote once the new lawsuits are filed.