Fortnite the creator of Epic Games is facing a lawsuit by New York-based saxophonist Leo Pellegrino who claims the entrepreneur used his likeness without permission when designing a saxophone dance in the game. The case was filed today at the federal court for eastern Pennsylvania.
The emotion, called "Phone It In", lets players pull out the brass instrument and play a fast melody while dancing. Pellegrino, known mostly to the Brass House group, Too Many, says that "brand movements have become inseparable from his personality and his life story," and that Epic did not want an earlier permission to use the likeness or "signing".
Pellegrino is represented by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, the same company representing a number of other artists, Internet celebrities and actors in emotional claims against Epic. Other clients include Fresh prince of Belle-Aire star of Alfonso Ribeiro, Russell "Backpacking Hunt", unnamed Fortnite a fan known as the Orange Shirt Kid, and rapper Terrence "2 Milly" Ferguson and James BlocBoy JB Baker.
In this case, Pellegrino does not pursue a copyright claim on his saxophone dance, but is judged exclusively for abuse of resemblance. All other cases are trying to find that dance moves can be protected by copyright, a controversial interpretation of copyright law without a clear legal precedent.
Choosing is probably a legal strategy. Almost every case brought against Epic is paused after the decision of the Supreme Court. This decision requires the US Copyright Office to respond before any of the cases can move forward. As a result, Pierce Bainbridge had five of his suits temporarily rejected last month while the company is waiting for copyright approval. Since Pellegrino's case is based entirely on rights of similarity, it must not be affected by this pause.
At the same time, Fortnite has a long history of extracting a likeness in pop culture. At the end of 2017 the game added a skin called The Reaper, which was very clearly modeled after the personality of Keanu Reeves in John Wick movies. Also used are dances promoted by Snoop Dog and Will Smith, as well as actor Donald Fyson, whose dance for the series Scrubs default Fortnite emotion when the warlord version is launched in September 2017. It is unclear whether Epic has purchased similarity rights for each of the participants. In a statement, a Epic spokesman said the company did not comment on ongoing litigation.
It is not clear that FortniteThe "Phone It In" emotion actually copies Pellegrino. Announcing the complaint, Hecht attached a videotape to Pellegrino, who performed live, as evidence of appropriation of resemblance. Part of the allegation seems to be that Pellegrino uses his "legs out" while playing and that his other signature is "his love for the energetic performances of the saxophone." On the edge that Pellegrino is a "duck foot," meaning his legs are the result of his natural anatomy.
Still, Epic's emotion is inspired by a memo known as Epic Sax Guy, where Moldovan musician Sergei Stepanov enthusiastically performs the saxophone while performing the Run Away song for the Eurovision Song Contest. It quickly became viral and remains easy to find today, with numerous remixes and edits on YouTube.
The search for "Epic Sax Guy Fortnite" brings out a number of videos that compare Stepanov's performance with the "Phone It In" emotion, drawing the link between the obvious resemblance.
Whatever inspiration, FortniteEmotional economy is undoubtedly profitable. Last year, Epic estimates it has earned $ 2.4 billion in the game, only through these in-game transactions and the Battle Pass subscription service, which includes some of the emotions the developer has judged. It is still unclear whether Epic owes this money to creators who inspire aesthetics and the items it offers.