The video game, Fortnite has reached heights previously unknown to the gaming industry. But this also makes them very vulnerable, as the content of their game is very public. Now they’re being sued by the idea originator of one of their dance animations.
2 Milly, a Brooklyn rapper, is suing Epic Games for the use of his “Milly Rock” dance, as an emote renamed “Swipe it”. The emote was introduced as part of the season five battle pass. The pass costs $10, and allows the player to obtain leveled tiers of loot, from outfits and toys, to dance emotes.
Milly said in a press release,
“I was never compensated by Epic Games for their use of the ‘Milly Rock.’ They never even asked for my permission. I am thrilled to have David Hecht and his team at Pierce Bainbridge representing me to help right this wrong.”
Under US law, you can copyright a dance, however, the case isn’t very clear cut. ‘Social Dances’ and simple routines are not able to be copyrighted.
It has not been determined which category this would fall into.
Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson has filed a copyright lawsuit against @EpicGames alleging infrgement of his “Milly Rock” dance routine in @FortniteGame— Mat Jessep (@MatJessep) December 6, 2018
US Copyright law does allow choreography to be protected, so long as works are fixed in a tangible mediumhttps://t.co/TsViBKcEub
As you know, it’s not quite that simple:— Richard Hoeg (@HoegLaw) December 6, 2018
Copyright Office: “Social dances, simple routines, and other uncopyrightable movements cannot be registered as separate and distinct works of authorship, even if they contain a substantial amount of creative expression”
This isn’t the first call to arms against Fortnite’s dance emotes.
Back in March, Donald Faison brought attention to the fact Fortnite copied his dance routine he performed on Scrubs to the song ‘Poison.’
Dear fortnite... I’m flattered? Though part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer...— Donald Faison (@donald_faison) April 1, 2018
Here's a side-by-side look at Scrubs' "Poison" dance and Fortnite's popular emote. 👀 pic.twitter.com/2U11Yvcekk— IGN (@IGN) November 19, 2018
iT's An HomAgE!!!— Knoebel🤨 (@Knoebelbroet) November 19, 2018
And Chance the Rapper accused the game of profiting off the work of black culture.
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes. Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2018
This is an argument the lawsuit is making as well.
And theeeeeeere's the tea. pic.twitter.com/lAetmF4Ll2— 🍚nLazarus (@RisenLazarus) December 6, 2018
Fortnite has done this with so many other dances. Dances that Everyone knows are called something else. They take it, slap some white ass name on it like “swipe it” and take 10 year olds parents money.— Kelly Bryant Stan Account (@iAirDry) December 6, 2018
It’s appropriation, and it’s illegal. 2 Milly, had a whole dance and song.
This news has fans split.
Some feel Fortnite has no obligation to credit the original dance.
Sounds like he’s desperately looking for attention. A lot of people probably didn’t even know who he was before they included the dance in the game.— It’s Jeshewaaah! (@DarixusGaming) December 6, 2018
Dancing in no longer safe. Not in the virtual or real world.— kayleeeeeee (@arcadek3lly) December 6, 2018
Can one own a dance.?— basic boinc girl (@fisherlr777) December 6, 2018
That dance been up on that game for a while and you telling me that he wants to sue epic games?...... that’s bs— nazis100 (@nazis100) December 6, 2018
I see no similarity lmfao— ChristmasMaxxYT (@MysticMaxxYT) December 6, 2018
Others feel the game needs to credit the work they feel is currently stolen.
I hope he wins this case...— C-Bo (@mrbrown0629) December 6, 2018
Good, they make INSANE money off other people’s ideas with zero compensation— #NuggetsNation ⚒ (@Justin2k_) December 6, 2018
He should get the recognition. Keeping track of pop culture origins is part of our history. People in the future will want to know about us in depth— kati (@kati_dust) December 6, 2018
why is everyone so mad though??? if he created the dance, he deserves some type of recognition. pic.twitter.com/Lg9EDT4kPT— ricki (@rrickkii) December 6, 2018
Fortnite steals dances?? I'm....I'm...I'm speeches. Why hasn't anyone said anything?....oh wait— Icy_Dawn (@the_villian2) November 19, 2018
Fortnite debuted in 2017, and exploded in popularity using the free-to-play battle royale model. While that mode is free, other game modes are not, and in-game loot is often locked behind a paywall.