In the past few months, Fortnite developer Epic Games has been faced with many lawsuits due to its use of several popular dance moves as emotes in its popular battle royale title. Now, however, 5 of these suits – filed by Alfonso Ribeiro, rappers James “BlocBoyJB” Baker and Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson, Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning, and the Fortnite fan “Orange Shirt Kid” (Real name unknown) – have been temporarily dismissed by the law firm behind them because of a recent change in the law.

Fortnite has been faced with many lawsuits for using dance moves created by others

The law firm, Pierce Brainridge, said in a statement that these five suits were filed “under the previous standard”. Formerly, plaintiffs could file lawsuits for copyright infringement immediately after they applied for a registration with the US Copyright Office. However, on March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that registrations must be completed before lawsuits can be filed. This means plaintiffs must now wait until they actually receive copyright from the Copyright Office for their dances before they can file a lawsuit.

Der Carlton In Fortnite
One of the plaintiffs is Alfonso Ribeiro, star of the 1990s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

This process can take several months, and as a result, all of the lawsuits against Epic Games have been put on hold. If they do end up having their registrations approved by the US Copyright Office, then the lawsuits can be refiled.

There’s no guarantee that they will, though. The entire process of copyrighting dance moves in the United States is incredibly complicated and unclear. According to US law, individual dance steps can’t be copyrighted, but choreographic routines can. The problem here is that the line between these two has never been firmly established. The emotes featured in Fortnite are only a couple of seconds long, but clearly, they are recognizable copies of short dance moves made by other individuals. While some of these could meet the definition of  “choreographed routines”, others might not. It’s entirely up to the Copyright Office to make the ultimate decision. So far, Epic Games has not made any comments.