Epic Games is once again under fire for allegedly copying a popular dance move without giving its creator any credit.
The new “Freewheelin” emote, which hasn’t been released into the game yet, has a striking resemblance to Ana Coto, the actress who went viral on TikTok in April for her “Jenny From the Block” rollerskating routine, which received 15.7 million views.
Following the leak of the new dance move, many people were quick to point out the undeniable similarities — including Coto herself.
“Smdh #freewheelin is literally me,” Coto captioned a TikTok video of her original “Jenny From the Block” routine next to Fortnite’s “Freewheelin” emote. Though she said she was “flattered” that they used her dance, she also posed the question: “No dance credit?”
It’d be hard for Epic Games to claim they’ve never seen Coto’s video. Not only did it go viral on TikTok, but several media outlets including BuzzFeed, Digital Trends and Refinery29 even credited her for the recent roller skates revival.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Epic Games has used a viral dance in Fortnite without crediting the creator.
In 2019, the video game company got into a legal battle with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro after it introduced the “the Carlton” dance into the game, though the actor eventually dropped the suit after he was unable to successfully copyright his signature move.
Around the same time that Ribeiro sued Epic Games, Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning also filed a lawsuit alleging that his “floss” dance was added to the game without credit or permission. (Horning, who used the same law firm as Ribeiro, also withdrew his lawsuit in March 2019, as he did not hold the proper copyright to move forward.)
Creators who have made it all the way to court have not fared well. In 2019, saxophonist Leo Pellegrino sued Epic Games for using his likeness without permission — but in April, a Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of Epic Games, noting that the video game company had “transformed” the avatar enough so that they didn’t actually look like him.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) July 18, 2020
Oddly enough, Epic Games recently went out of its way to actually credit an artist. In July, the company openly credited Jalaiah Harmon — creator of the “Renegade” dance — with her own in-game emote, even going so far as to name the emote after the dance.
Since the “Freewheelin” emote still hasn’t been released yet, Epic Games still has time to give Ana Coto proper credit. If they don’t, though, Coto unfortunately doesn’t have a leg to stand on, at least legally.
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