Saxophonist Sues Epic Games Over “Phone It In” Fortnite Emote

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As if we didn’t have enough emote litigation, Epic Games has been saddled with another damaging suit, this time from saxophonist Leo Pellegrino.
His umbrage concerns Fortnite’s popular “Phone It In” emote, which he is claiming bites part of his dance routine.

Pellegrino is the saxophonist for brass outlet Too Many Zoos, and The Verge reports that the details of the suit centre around the similarity between the emote and Pellegrino’s “duck-footed” dancing whilst playing, which is apparently unique to the talented musician. You can watch him boogie on YouTube here and decide for yourself.

At first, I assumed that Pellegrino was the basis for the popular ‘Epic Sax Guy’ meme that set the internet ablaze many moons ago, which appears to be a more likely inspiration for the Fortnite emote. This isn’t the case, but the similarities are still compelling.

Pellegrino is represented by legal firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, a mouthful which you may have already come to terms with, as the company also represents most of the celebrities who have sued Epic over Fortnite emotes in the past year.

So far we’ve had Alfonso Ribeiro from Fresh Prince, Backpack and Orange Shirt Kid, and rappers 2 Milly and BlocBoy JB. Not all of the claims are as strong as the others, but most of them concern a case of likeness appropriation that doesn’t seem fair, especially when Epic is making a considerable amount of money from the sale of their dance moves.
Unfortunately for the dance creators, it’s a very tricky case to fight, especially considering the minefield that is copyright law in the US. Hopefully, we’ll hear more from the Fortnite creator going forward about its strategy concerning emote inspiration.