US Copyright Office: No, the Carlton Is Not Copyrightable

Alfonso Ribeiro is best known for his character Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ribeiro came back into the public spotlight after launching lawsuits against Epic Games and Take-Two Interactive over copyright claims that he owns the famous dance popularized by the TV Show, informally known as The Carlton. The lawsuit alleges that both developers used The Carlton without permission, that Ribeiro is the sole owner, and that he deserves compensation for use of his creation.

Unfortunately for Ribeiro the Copyright office has been rather explicit regarding the copyright status for simple dance routines: They can’t be copyrighted. The Carlton as it turns out is no different.

In a response to his copyright application, the US Copyright Office officially refused registration for The Dance by Alfonso Ribeiro – Variation B, and noted in no uncertain terms that the dance qualified as a simple dance routine and could not be classified as a choreographic work. Choreography is legally defined as a composition and arrangement of a related series of dance movements and patterns organized into an integrated, coherent, and expressive whole. Choreographic works do not include social dance steps and simple routines, and must contain a sufficient amount of choreographic authorship.

As The Carlton is a routine consisting of three dance steps, it is not registrable as a choreographic work. The Copyright office went further in questioning whether or not Ribeiro was even the sole author of the work.

Epic and Take Two are currently fighting legal battles against a growing number of performers and internet celebrities over the use of popular dance moves in Fortnite and NBA 2K. Now that the copyright office has spoken on Ribeiro’s ownership status, it seems likely that Epic’s next move will be a motion to dismiss.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office

IPE Update: Brandon Lucas Files Motion to Dismiss Epic Lawsuit

Brandon Lucas has filed a motion to dismiss in North Carolina court this week. Lucas is currently being sued by Epic Games over causes of copyright infringement, breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, and unfair/deceptive trade & unfair competition in relation to alleged cheating and promotion of cheats in Fortnite.

The Defendant Brandon Lucas hereby files a motion to dismiss the complaint. The motion date will be scheduled by the Court after proper notice to the Plaintiff, Epic Games, Inc. The Defendant, Brandon Lucas, will rely on the affidavit submitted.

In his motion to dismiss, Lucas claims that he does not own the Youtube channel in question, that the videos posted are not his, that he does not own or advertise any cheats, and that generally Epic has the wrong guy.

Epic filed the lawsuit back in October against Lucas and another defendant. Epic is alleging that Lucas owns, operates, and profits from a website selling cheats and buying accounts for Fortnite. MMO Fallout will update once the court reaches a decision.

The adventurous among you can check out the link below for both the original filing and motion to dismiss. Be aware that the original filing contains all evidence and runs over 160 pages.

(Source: Google Drive)

Epic Games Wins Default Judgement As Defendant Fails to Respond

It’s been a while since MMO Fallout followed up on Epic Games v. C.R., the lawsuit where Epic brought complaint against a defendant who turned out to be a minor. C.R. was being accused of continuing to cheat in Fortnite, and promote said cheats through Youtube videos/streaming, in spite of over a dozen account bans by Epic. Epic filed a copyright claim against his video, defendant counterclaimed, and Epic filed suit as required by copyright law.

Most of the updates on this case have revolved around sealing and redacting documents to remove C.R.’s name from the record, so I’ve taken the liberty of skipping their coverage as to not bore all of you. The last couple of months have brought some small updates, ultimately leading to a decision within the past couple of days. Those of you who have followed the case know that C.R.’s mother wrote a letter to the court asking for them to dismiss the case, and I pointed out at the time that this may be damaging as it could be construed by the court as an official response and a motion to dismiss. I wasn’t wrong, and the court accepted the letter and interpreted it as an official motion to dismiss.

The motion was denied because it didn’t properly address the plaintiff’s claims, a premise that shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that it wasn’t written by a lawyer, or intended to be an actual legal filing. Following the court’s denial of the motion to dismiss in July, Epic Games once again filed a motion for entry of default, as outside of the initial letter from C.R.’s mother, they have not actually responded to Epic’s complaint.

After continuing to miss deadlines for response, the court this week granted Epic’s motion for default judgement, meaning Epic will likely get what it wants. And what does Epic want? Let’s go back to the prayer for relief in Epic’s initial complaint.

Epic wants the court to enter judgement in their favor and adjudge the defendant to have infringed on Epic’s copyright, to have contributory infringement, to have breached the terms of service, to have interfered in contracts between Epic and its other players through their cheating, and for the court to declare that the infringements were willing in nature. As punishment, Epic has demanded that the defendant be permanently barred from infringing or contributing to infringement, ie; cheating in their games and distributing/promoting said cheats, as well as deleting any videos showing said cheats and copies of said software off of his computer.

Now let’s talk money. Epic has demanded the maximum statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504, which allows up to $30,000 (as the court considers just) with an exception for cases where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving willful infringement, in which case the maximum damage shoots up to $150,000 (again, as the court considers just). Alternately, Epic may ask for the “actual damages,” which were not specified. In addition, Epic has asked for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenditures, as well as any further relief the court may deem proper.

Will Epic get paid? In my humble opinion, we’re more likely to see this end in a bankruptcy filing by the family.

Epic Games Ends Another Lawsuit With Permanent Injunction

Back in January, MMO Fallout reported on the latest lawsuit filed by Epic Games in the district of Northern California court. The lawsuit followed the similar pattern set forth by its predecessors, seeking permanent injunctions and utilizing the natural legal progression of a DMCA takedown notice against the defendant’s Youtube videos. This lawsuit, however, charged defendant Yash Gosai, a New Zealand resident, with creating/finding an exploit that would allow him to obtain V-Bucks, Fortnite’s real money currency, without paying for them. Gosai posted the exploit on his Youtube channel and, when the video was taken down on Epic’s DMCA notice, filed a counter-claim.

Epic alleges that Gosai created, developed and/or found an exploit for Fortnite’s Battle Royale game mode; Gosai then created and publicly displayed a video on YouTube to advertise, demonstrate, and distribute the exploit; Gosai’s video contained gameplay from Epic’s Fortnite Battle Royale game; and that using the exploit, Gosai obtained Fortnite V-bucks without paying for them.

Less than a month later, the lawsuit is over with Epic Games claiming the victory. The court found in favor of Epic Games on the charges of copyright infringement, breach of contract, and conversion. The court’s decision, which cannot be appealed by either party, permanently restrains Gosai from finding, creating, promoting, sharing, or otherwise interacting with any program/cheat that interacts with any of Epic Games’ titles. As with its other lawsuits, Epic Games is not seeking monetary damages and as per the court’s ruling both sides will be responsible for their own attorney’s fees.

Since October 10, 2017, Epic Games has filed seven lawsuits against people creating/promoting cheats for Fortnite, of which four have been successfully settled. For two of the three remaining lawsuits, Epic appears to be having trouble serving the summons. In the third, filed against a Russian citizen, is allegedly being ignored.

(Source: PACER Court Documents)

Epic Settles Lawsuit Against Minor Fortnite Cheater

Epic Games has agreed to voluntary dismissal and settlement in its lawsuit against a minor filed last year in the eastern district of North Carolina court. As part of the lawsuit and due to the defendant being a minor, certain documents have been sealed on order of the court and the defendant has since been simply named by his initials M.F. Epic had instigated the lawsuit after filing a DMCA takedown notice against the defendant’s video allegedly advertising cheats in their game Fortnite. When the defendant counter-claimed the video, Epic issued its complaint to the court.

Plaintiff Epic Games, Inc., by and through its attorneys, hereby gives notice of the settlement and dismissal of this action. Each party shall bear its or his own attorneys’ fees and costs.

The terms of the settlement are not being made public. Epic’s other lawsuit against another minor is still being pursued, with a recent court document submitted detailing issues that the prosecution had with finding and serving the defendants.

(Source: Court Dockets)

Epic Strikes Again: Sues Over Fortnite V-Buck Exploit

Since last October, Epic Games has launched at least six lawsuits against individuals creating or advertising cheats for Fortnite, and as of last week you can add another one to that list. Epic has filed another lawsuit in the Northern District of California court, this time against an individual Yash Gosai, over his advertising of exploits in Fortnite Battle Royale.

While Epic’s previous lawsuits targeted creators and distributors of aimbots, this lawsuit deals with an exploit surrounding Fortnite’s premium currency V-Bucks. According to the lawsuit, Gosai is accused of developing and publicizing an exploit allowing people to gain free v-bucks without paying real money. Epic Games took the action of removing the video via DMCA takedown notice, which the defendant counter-claimed, and now the case is going to court on three claims: Copyright violation, breach of contract, and conversion (monetary damages).

Unlike the other cases we’ve covered where Epic Games is mostly seeking injunctive relief, barring the defendants from playing/cheating in their games, the fact that Gosai is being accused of both using and distributing an exploit to illegitimately acquire RMT currency for Fortnite makes this lawsuit one of the few where Epic is actually pursuing monetary damages. Epic is seeking unspecified damages plus interest and lawyer fees. As Yash Gosai is a resident of New Zealand, this case might take a while.

Both parties are scheduled for a meeting in April.

(Source: North California Court Docket Case 3:2018cv00152)

Paragon Might Be Unsustainable and Fortnite Killed It

There is no doubt that Epic Games has been drawing in the players and the money with the release of their PUBG-esque Fortnite Battle Royale. While Epic refuses to separate the two modes, it did recently announce that Fortnite had drawn in a combined forty million downloads. While Fortnite has been a runaway success, it looks like the game may have sealed the doom of another Epic product.

In an open letter to the Paragon community, Epic admitted that updates have been slow and the title’s inability to draw in players with each new updated has raised cause for concern. The update notes that over the coming weeks it will be looking at Paragon and determining how to move forward with updates.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be figuring out if and how we can evolve Paragon to achieve growth and success, and trying some things internally. In the meantime, Paragon’s release cadence will be slower.

Epic Games admits that a fair number of members of the Paragon team have jumped ship and moved over to Battle Royale and that the title may not reach what Epic considers to be a sustainable game.

Here inside Epic, we’re talking about the future of Paragon in pretty much the same terms as you’re talking about it. The core challenge is that, of new players who try Paragon, only a small number continue to play regularly after a month. Though Paragon has evolved, no iteration has yet achieved that magical combination of ingredients that make for a sustainable game. (As an aside, the problem isn’t marketing or how to make money with Paragon. We have good ideas that would solve those problems if we can find a way to make Paragon grow.)

The entire post can be read at the link below.

(Source: Reddit)

Forget Civil Court, Tencent Is Sending PUBG Cheaters To Prison

We’ve seen a lot of discussion about the morality of Epic Games suing people, including minors, for advertising their cheats in Fortnite, but while court-enforced injunctions may prevent some cheat makers from re-offending, Tencent over in China is taking a different approach; they’re getting law enforcement involved.

According to a report out of Bloomberg, Tencent has assisted Chinese police in taking down more than 120 people in 30 cases involving the creation and distribution of cheats for PUBG and is branching out into its other titles. The individuals under arrest are being charged with violating China’s criminal laws on disrupting computer networks, and unlike Epic Games’ simple injunctions, can and have faced jail times of up to five years as well as massive fines.

“PUBG is going through a puberty of sorts and cheaters threaten to stunt its growth,” said Kim Hak-joon, who analyzes gaming stocks for South Korea’s Kiwoom Securities Co. “Cheaters mostly drive away new users, and without retaining new users, PUBG won’t be able to consolidate its early success and become a long-lasting hit.”

This is not the first case of authorities cracking down on video game crimes. Last year, Jiangsu police arrested a Counter Strike: Global Offensive cheat developer who now faces up to 15 years in prison. In South Korea, a 17 year old was arrested for developing and selling cheats for Overwatch. Over in Japan, police have made use of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law in order to prosecute people creating and selling cheats for video games like Alliance of Valiant Arms and Sudden Attack. In 2014, two men were sentenced to prison in China after scamming people of digital items and selling them for cash.

In some cases, developers are assisting the police in cracking down on criminal offenses, however the police are the entities pressing the actual criminal charges.

Another Epic Games Lawsuit Settled With Permanent Injunction

Another Epic Games Fortnite lawsuit has been settled this month. Back in October, Epic Games filed lawsuits against a number of people creating and disseminating cheats for Fortnite in California and North Carolina state courts. A couple of those cases have already been settled and it looks like most of these cases will end with the defendants permanently barred from (possibly) playing and definitely from creating, using, or distributing cheats for Fortnite or any of Epic’s other titles.

Epic alleges that Yakovenko created, developed, and/or wrote a purported software cheat for Fortnite’s Battle Royale game mode; Yakovenko then created and posted several videos on YouTube to advertise, demonstrate, and distribute his cheat; Yakovenko’s videos feature Epic’s FORTNITE mark and full screen gameplay using the purported cheat; and while Yakovenko’s “cheat” does not appear to be a functional Fortnite cheat, it functions as a bitcoin miner that infects the user’s computer with a virus that causes the user’s computer to mine bitcoin for the benefit of an unknown third party.

The terms of the judgement permanently bar Yakovenko from creating or using cheat software in any current or future game owned by Epic Games, or even assisting anyone with creating or using a cheat for one of Epic’s games. Both parties will be paying their own legal fees, and it looks like no monetary penalty will be taken against Yakovenko.

In other news, it looks like Epic Games may have sued another minor. Last year we talked about the lawsuit against 14 year old Caleb Rogers, whose case has not seen any progression since we last discussed it. Epic’s lawsuit in North Carolina court mirrors that of its lawsuit against Rogers, noting that the minor was posting videos on Youtube showing how to cheat and where to get said cheats, with the lawsuit essentially following up on a DMCA takedown notice that Epic had filed. The defendant, M.F., filed a counter-notice under the penalty of perjury that his videos were fair use. In cases where counter-claims are issued, the only option going forward for a copyright holder is to file a lawsuit.

As in the case of Rogers, it looks like Epic was not aware of the age of Moret before filing and as such a number of files have been sealed to the public regarding this case. As with the other cases, Epic appears to be pursuing a permanent injunction on cheating.

%d bloggers like this: