Former University of Maryland basketball players Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens are suing Epic Games for copying their virally famous “Running Man Challenge” dance for Fortnite’s “Running Man” emote. This lawsuit is the latest of a number of similar legal actions by figures such as rappers 2 Milly and BlocBoy JB and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro.
Brantley and Nickens first achieved viral fame when they were invited to perform their dance on The Ellen Degeneres Show in 2016. Though they did not invent the dance—and admitted as much on the show—their claim is that they adapted and popularized it and thus consider the dance to be their intellectual property.
According to the complaint filed by the former basketball players this week, Epic Games has “consistently sought to exploit African-American talent, in particular in Fortnite, by copying their dances and movement.” At the moment, Epic is also facing a lawsuit issued by Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning, a white teenager whose virally-famous dance has also become a popular Fortnite emote.
It has yet to be determined whether or not these performers’ claims of plagiarism will hold up in court, but a victorious result would net them millions of dollars as Fortnite’s revenues continue to rise.
Screenshot via The Ellen DeGeneres Show on YouTube