Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending February 22, 2019

Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending February 22, 2019

Here's a summary of interesting developments in intellectual property, technology, social media, and Internet law for the week ending February 22, 2019.

Copyright Infringement of Dance Moves in Video Games

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Last year’s video game market was dominated by Epic Games’s battle-royale sensation, Fortnite.  The game combines elements of building defensive fortifications with third-person shooter elements to create an environment where players basically compete in a cartoonish free-for-all that ends with only one player declared to have achieved “Victory Royale.” However, the game’s dance moves have brought up the question of copyright infringement.

Fortnite Breaks Ground in Copyright Litigation with Dance Moves

While Fortnite has achieved considerable success and broken many video game records, it also has broken new ground in intellectual property litigation, specifically in copyright litigation.  While Fortnite is a free-to-play game, it does offer a number of “premium” options for which players can pay real money.  Among some of these premium or cosmetic options is the ability to buy specific dances for the player’s character or avatar. When choosing which dances to incorporate into Fortnite, Epic Games decided to include dances that would appeal to the player base, and as such, programmed in dances that were taken from mainstream, popular culture.

Because these dances, however, have come to be largely associated with the specific characters or celebrities that perform them, Epic Games has found itself in the middle of a flurry of new litigation.  While the choreography and public performance of dances have long been recognizable as copyrightable, whether the dances depicted in Fortnite are subject to copyright is hotly contested by both sides.

Fortnite Defends Dance Moves as Repetitive Animations

Among its many defenses includes an interesting stance that the video game characters are only performing repetitive animations of the “dance moves,” which may be considered part of a process instead of an actual performance.  As such, then for litigation’s sake, the main issue becomes when does a “move” become a dance, and if it is not a dance, can a party still sue simply because that “move” has become associated enough with a particular celebrity or performer?

Read the full article here.

Universal Music Group and Other Music Labels Sue Poker Podcast for Copyright Infringement

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On November 16, 2018, Universal Music Group (UMG) and several other prominent music labels filed suit against iBus Media, the parent group for PokerNews and the PokerNews app, for alleged copyright infringement in a federal district court in California. The complaint alleges that iBus Media, through the PokerNews website and mobile application, committed various instances of copyright infringement by illegally playing music content on podcasts hosted through each service. UMG claims that the potential infringement occurred willfully and with knowledge of the illegal conduct. UMG claims to have brought this issue to the attention of iBus Media as early as December 2015 via a cease and desist letter. 

Read more here.

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Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charitable movement devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time, and publishes Thriving Attorney, a blog dedicated to exploring the business of the practice of law, productivity and performance for attorneys, and other topics such as law firm leadership and management, law firm culture, and business development for attorneys.

Click to learn more about Darin M. Klemchuk's law practice as an intellectual property lawyer.

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