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Fresh Prince's Alfonso Ribeiro Is Suing Fortnite Over The Carlton Dance

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is suing Epic over Fortnite’s replication of his trademark dance move. He’s also suing 2K for doing the same thing in their basketball series.

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Ribeiro’s Tom Jones routine is one of the most defining moments in the history of the show, and has bled over into pop culture at large; this YouTube clip of the performance, for example has over 18 million views:

Meanwhile Fortnite’s “Fresh” emote isn’t even tribute, it just straight up lifts it:

As TMZ reports, the move comes as Ribeiro is in the middle of trying to copyright the dance, perhaps because Fortnite isn’t the only game to use it to make money. He’s also suing 2K because their basketball series has done the same thing; here’s the Carlton in NBA 2K16, for example:

“It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite”, Ribeiro’s lawyer told TMZ.

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“Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh.’ Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property.”

The question the courts are being asked here is of course nothing new. Allegations that Epic is profiting from the work of black creatives have been simmering all year, led by artists like Chance The Rapper.

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Contacted for comment, Epic told Kotaku “We do not comment on ongoing litigation.”

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

YOU. CANT. OWN. A. DANCE. Your own likeness, yes, but not a dance. we all possess human bodies with a limited range and combination of movements and at some point they have been done in every conceivable way. but you cant own intellectual rights to a specific series of body movements. this is getting ridiculous.