Fortnite has a weird history of appropriating the dance moves of (usually African-American) artists and turning them into profitable “emotes,” or little animations that players can purchase and perform inside the game’s world. The issue has mostly been reserved for social media, but now there’s a chance things may go to court if rapper 2 Milly has his way. Last week, 2 Milly announced he hopes to take legal action the game developer, according to a report from CBS News.
Fortnite‘s appropriation has gotten the attention of artists such as Chance the Rapper, who publicly called out Fortnite developer Epic Games for failing to share royalties with the artists who created the dances.
2 Milly created and popularized the “Milly Rock” dance move featured in the music video “Milly Rock x 2 Milly,” released back in 2014. In its fifth season, Fortnite released the “Swipe It” emote, which looks very similar to the wiping motions of 2 Milly’s move. The “Swipe It” emote was originally on sale for about $5, but later became available as a Battle Pass unlockable reward.
2 Milly faces some significant hurdles if he wants to successfully take legal action against Epic Games.
“There’s a lot of case lawsuits surrounding the copyright of music. Lyrics. Sounds. There’s a full body of case law related to that. But regarding choreographic works, that does not exist,” business and entertainment lawyer Merlyne Jean-Louis said in an interview with CBS News.
“They actually sell that particular move. It’s for purchase,” 2 Milly said to CBS. “That’s when I really was like … oh nah, this can’t go on too long.”
Fortnite has made a considerable amount of money from in-game cosmetic items and other dance moves, including a clear imitation of Snoop Dogg’s dance from “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and K-pop star Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”
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
But 2 Milly seems to just want to keep his intellectual property from being exploited by others, not necessarily punish Epic Games and Fortnite players.
“I don’t even want to bash them for all the millions. Know what I am saying? It’s not really like that. I just feel like I have to protect what’s mine,” the rapper said to CBS.
In the interim, Fortnite dances have become increasingly popular thanks to the game’s 140 million players, which has netted Epic Games over $1 billion in the month of October alone. Fortnite dances have become a popular subject in youth gym classes across North America and Europe as well.
H/T CBS News