New York Saxophonist Latest To Sue Fortnite Developers For Supposedly Ripping Off His... 'Likeness'

from the business-model-composed-completely-of-question-marks dept

Because there's no shortage of people willing to believe someone else's millions can be theirs with minimal effort, another semi-celebrity has hopped aboard law firm Pierce Bainbridge's Fortnite-suing money train. Destination unknown.

The law firm has helped everyone from former sitcom star Alfonso Ribeiro to a sentient meme known as "Backpack Kid" throw money into a federal court holes over the past several months. Thanks to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, most of its copyright infringement lawsuits are on hold because the plaintiffs have yet to actually have protection granted for their dance moves by the US Copyright Office.

It's not like this is just a matter of waiting out the Office. The Copyright Office has made it clear it will only extend copyright protection to dance moves showing sufficient creativity. It's not likely to find most of the dance moves being sued over worth protecting as most of them consist of only a "few movements or steps with minor linear or spatial variations." One of the first litigants to jump into the Sue Fortnite pool -- Alfonso Ribeiro -- has already been rejected by the federal government.

Unfortunately, the lawsuits continue, as Nick Statt reports for The Verge.

Fortnite creator Epic Games is facing a lawsuit from New York City-based saxophonist Leo Pellegrino, who claims the developer has used his likeness without permission when designing a saxophone dance in the game. The lawsuit was filed today in federal court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

The emote, called “Phone It In,” lets players whip out the brass instrument and play a quick tune while dancing. Pellegrino, best known for his Brass House band Too Many Zooz, says his “trademark moves have become inseparable from his persona and his life story” and that Epic had not previously asked for permission to use his likeness or “his signature moves.”

The law firm apparently submitted this video of Leo Pellegrino performing as evidence of Fortnite's ripoffery.

Firm staffers likely had to browse their way past this video, which seems to show Fortnite's developers are ripping off someone else entirely.

What makes this lawsuit even more sketchy than the others Pierce Bainbridge has filed is it's not a copyright infringement lawsuit. The lack of registration has halted its other lawsuits and, given the Copyright Office's response to one its many clients, it seems unlikely most of these will be refiled. So, Pellegrino is claiming it's his likeness that has been "misappropriated," which is definitely a stretch when the emotes can be performed by dozens of characters that look and dress nothing like Pellegrino. Oh, and also, even the saxophone is different. Pellegrino plays a baritone sax, and the Fortnite version appears to be an alto sax, so they're not even playing the same instrument.

All Pellegrino really has is an assertion that he's a dude who plays a saxophone enthusiastically and Fortnite has an "emote" featuring a different kind of saxophone being played enthusiastically by the player's avatar. Any similarities are probably coincidental, seeing as there's only so many ways someone can play a saxophone with far more enthusiasm than the instrument deserves.

Despite its 100% failure rate in Fortnite lawsuits, Pierce Bainbridge is still finding plaintiffs willing to ensure its partners keep collecting paychecks. And isn't that the greatest victory of all?

Filed Under: alfonso ribeiro, copyright, dance moves, fortnite, lawsuits, leo pellegrino, likeness, publicity rights
Companies: epic, pierce bainbridge


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 1 May 2019 @ 1:58pm

    New Flash

    This just in: Lisa Simpson is now sueing Leo Pellegrino for stealing her classic sax moves as seen on The Simpsons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 1 May 2019 @ 2:01pm

    Good thing that Adolphe Sax has died in 1894

    Otherwise he or his estate or whatever society feels entitled to cash in in order to encourage some long deceased zombies to design more instruments could sue for the likeness of the saxophone. Maybe as a landmark or whatever the newest fad is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2019 @ 2:20pm

    IP is just a thing we created to allow us to demand money from people with lots of money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 2 May 2019 @ 3:27am

      Re:

      Turns out that IP tends to enable people with lots of money to demand money on behalf of (or sometimes from) people actually earning money.

      Imagine sperm whale sized leeches: they need to keep their priorities straight when trying to organize their food sources. You can bleed the small fry dry but you need to culture the big blood a bit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2019 @ 2:22pm

    Creative industry my ass....
    Sorry anger from deep thoughts. i Was hearing “America is country of innovation” in my head and the irony was overwhelming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2019 @ 3:00pm

    Well if one of these Plaintiffs is successful, he'll do the "Carlton dance" as he leaves court!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 1 May 2019 @ 3:13pm

    I actually have video (somewhere) of a kid who played fortnight, then instead of doing the emote, actually whipped out his sax and did the playing. (I should point out its because he was a band member in my son's band playing fortnight, and did it specifically to be funny.
    But he even looks more like a fortnight character than pellegrino.

    BTW, 'throw money into federal court holes' - great term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 1 May 2019 @ 3:36pm

    Timmy Cappello

    Reminds me more of Timmy Cappello from the Lost Boys

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 12:19am

      Re: Timmy Cappello

      That was my go to as well, along with the occasional sax player I see playing along with house music in my local beach bars. Perhaps there's only one real way a person can play that instrument with a degree of excitement?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dan Neely (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 6:30am

    I assume Fortnite is just the first target of many

    virtually every multiplayer game is full of dbags spewing vitriolic nonsense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 6:45am

      Re: I assume Fortnite is just the first target of many

      every multiplayer game is full of dbags

      Because moderation at scale is impossible to get right. But what does that have to do with Saxophones?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 7:07am

      Re: I assume Fortnite is just the first target of many

      Perhaps they are. But, this has nothing to do with those people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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