On April 23, 2018, Epic Games, Inc. (“Epic”) filed a response to a Motion to Dismiss filed by Lauren Rogers, the mother of a teenaged Fortnite hacker (“C. R.”) facing a copyright infringement and breach of contract lawsuit filed by Epic last year.
Epic’s complaint argues that C.R. infringed its copyrights by injecting unauthorized computer code (that is, cheats) into Fortnite. C.R. allegedly recorded himself cheating in Fortnite and uploaded those videos to YouTube. Epic filed a DMCA request to take down those videos, to which CR apparently replied: “i did noting rong this strike is all wrong I was modding in a video game that isn’t against youtubes TOS Why was i striked ‼!.” According to Epic, C.R. had been banned from Fortnite at least fourteen times, but continued to dodge bans using fake names. Neither C.R. nor his mother have legal counsel.
The suit is extremely similar to Epic’s other Fortnite lawsuits (discussed here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
Ms. Roger’s Motion to Dismiss, actually a letter filed by Ms. Rogers, allegedly admits that C.R. was a cheater but argues that the case should be dismissed because (1) Epic “has no capability of proving [that C.R. performed] any form of modification,” because (2) Epic “illegally” released C.R.’s name, because (3) Epic cannot prove “profit loss” from the cheating or that C.R. profited from his cheating, and (4) because Epic’s contracts (e.g., its terms of service) are invalid because C.R. is a minor. Epic responded by not only moving to seal certain portions of the trial record, but also by arguing that it was not required to make certain proofs at the pleading stage, and that, in any event, Ms. Roger’s arguments were legally unfounded.
These developments appear to put Epic in a useful, albeit awkward, position. On one hand, this suit provides a clear warning that even minors may find themselves sued for cheating in Fortnite. On the other hand, Epic is now pursuing a copyright suit against an unrepresented teen and his mother – definitely an interesting position from a public relations perspective.