Epic Games is once again under fire for allegedly copying a popular dance movement without giving its creator any credit.
The new “Freewheelin” emo, which has not yet been released in the game, bears a striking resemblance to Ana Coto, the actress who went viral on TikTok in April for her “Jenny From the Block” roller ski routine, which received 15.7 million views.
After the leak from the new dance pace, many were quick to point out the indisputable similarities – including Coto himself.
“Smdh #freewheelin is literally me,”
It would be difficult for Epic Games to claim that they have never seen Coto’s video. Not only did it go viral on TikTok, but several media outlets including BuzzFeed, Digital Trends and Refinery29 even gave her credit for the recent revival of roller skates.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Epic Games has used a viral dance in Fortnite without telling the creator.
In 2019, the video game company came into a legal battle with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro after it introduced “the Carlton” dance into the game, although the actor eventually dropped the suit after failing to successfully copyright his signature move.
About the same time that Ribeiro sued Epic Games, Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning also filed a lawsuit alleging that his “floss” dance was taken to the game without credit or permission. (Horning, who used the same law firm as Ribeiro, also withdrew his lawsuit in March 2019 because he did not have the right copyright to proceed.)
Creators who have done it all the way to court have not gone well. In 2019, saxophonist Leo Pellegrino sued Epic Games for using his image 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 not to look like him.
Oddly enough, Epic Games recently went out of its way to actually credit an artist. In July, the company openly credited Jalaiah Harmon – the creator of the “Renegade” dance – with her own in-game emote, even naming her after the dance.
Since the “Freewheelin” emote has not yet been released yet, Epic Games still has time to give Ana Coto the right credit. If they do not, Coto unfortunately does not have a leg to stand on, at least legally.
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