Epic Games is piling up dance emote lawsuits, the latest of which is from “Random” dance creator Orange Shirt Kid’s mom. Orange Shirt Kid is a minor; his mother, Rachel McCumbers, is suing Fortnite developer Epic Games on his behalf.
The lawsuit, filed last week by Pierce BainBridge Beck Price & Hecht, accuses Epic of copyright infringement for using Orange Shirt Kid’s signature dance move in Fortnite. Pierce BainBridge Beck Price & Hecht is the same firm that filed lawsuits against Epic with 2 Milly, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Backpack Kid for the use of their dance moves in the battle royale game.
McCumbers is asking for damages, including “profits attributed to their misappropriation of the Random, Orange Shirt Kid’s likeness, and the Catchphrase.”
Orange Shirt Kid submitted the Random dance to Fortnite’s BoogieDown dance contest, which had players submitting dances for inclusion in the game. Thousands of applicants submitted moves, and Orange Shirt Kid’s dance amassed widespread popularity but was not ultimately chosen as the winner. A Twitter user called Populotus was awarded the grand prize for his dance. Fortnite players and Orange Shirt Kid fans later started a petition to get the Random dance into the game—and it worked. Epic added the dance, now called Orange Justice, to Fortnite on May 1.
Orange Shirt Kid has since deleted tweets referencing the dance move in Fortnite. “THEY ADDED IT OMGOMG,” he tweeted when the emote was added to Fortnite. “ORANGE JUSTICE BOI. Can’t wait for someone to kill me, know its me then do my dance. It’ll be so funny. GG Epic.”
Rules for the BoogieDown dance contest state that “as a condition of entry,” participants grant Epic “a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, transferable, sublicensable, and royalty free license to use, modify, reproduce, prepare derivative works of, distribute, perform, and display the Submission in any and all media throughout the world and for whatever purpose Sponsor deems.” The rules also say that contestants will not be paid for their submissions. Prizes were given out, but they are in-game currency and items valued, at most, at $250.
Players interested in the Orange Justice emote could unlock it at Tier 26, which was part of the free Battle Pass for season four. Players did not need to purchase anything to get the emote.
The lawsuit does not mention the BoogieDown dance contest, though it does mention that Orange Shirt Kid’s popularity “exploded” in early 2018 after a video of himself performing the dance went viral. The fan campaign and subsequent cyberbullying is also noted in the lawsuit. McCumbers said Epic did not obtain consent or authorization to use the Random dance in Fortnite, which is now often misattributed to the game rather than Orange Shirt Kid himself.
When reached for comment, an Epic representative said the company does not comment ongoing litigation.