Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is suing two game developers for what he considers their unauthorized use of a dance he popularized in the ‘90s.
The 47-year-old actor portrayed Carlton Banks for six seasons on “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air,” and his character’s signature moves became known as the “Carlton dance.” Now, the actor has filed lawsuits against Epic Games Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. — the creators of the Fortnite and NBA 2K games, respectively — alleging that they’ve attempted to “unfairly profit” off of his “protected creative expression” by including the dance in their video games, CNN reports.
Epic Games Inc., the creators of the popular multi-player survival game Fortnite, and NBA 2K creators Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. both feature some version of the dance, but Ribeiro’s suits, filed on Monday, ask a judge to order the companies to no longer use the dance and to award him damages, according to court documents obtained by CNN.
Fortnite offers a version of the dance as an in-game purchase, a perk similar to choosing a different outfit or weapon for one’s character. That specific dance is called “Fresh” on Fortnite, which Ribeiro described as “misleadingly labeled” in his suits, according to USA Today.
“Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh,’” Ribeiro’s attorney, David Hecht, said in a statement obtained by USA Today. “Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property.”
Ribeiro’s suits also point to what they call the problematic nature of video game companies profiting off of the creations of others and inspiring hashtags like #fortnitedance that give no credit to the original creator.
“Epic intentionally induces others to perform these dances and mark them with those hashtags, which give attribution to and endorse Fortnite the game,” the lawsuit states, according to CNN. “Epic has consistently sought to exploit African-American talent, in particular in Fortnite, by copying their dances and movements and sell them through emotes.”
Ribeiro is not the only creator to take issue with Fortnite’s use of their signature dance moves. Rapper 2 Milly, the creator of another Fortnite-featured dance called the “Milly Rock,” filed a similar suit against Epic Games Inc. earlier this month, Variety reports.
“I don’t feel it’s appropriate that my art (dance), which is a big part of culture, is basically stolen,” 2 Milly told gaming site Kotaku. “The appropriate thing to do is compensate me with a fair amount for my addition to the game.”
“The Backpack Kid” Russell Horning, whose dance moves catapulted him to social media fame and were replicated in both Fortnite and two separate NBA 2K games, also filed a suit against Epic Games Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., employing the same law firm as 2 Milly, USA Today reports.
The recent wave of legal action has sparked furious debate online. One recognizable name that has weighed in is Chance the Rapper, who suggested in a series of tweets earlier this year that video game companies compensate the black creators whose dances they continue to profit off of.
[Photo: Getty Images]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.