Aside from its outlandish art style and build-mode gameplay, Fortnite is known for its use of iconic dances as emotes. The creators of these dances aren’t happy that Epic Games is profiting in the millions from their hard work without compensation, resulting in multiple lawsuits from rapper 2 Milly, Backpack Kid and Alfonso Ribeiro, who is known for playing The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s Carlton Banks.
2 Milly was the first to consider suing Epic Games for its unsolicited use of “The Milly Rock” dance last month. Although Fortnite displays the name as “Swipe It,” the moves are officially named after its creator. Currently, the dance is a part of Fortnite’s larger microtransaction system, costing players approximately $5.
“Everybody was just like, ‘Yo, your dance is in the game,’” 2 Milly told CBS News. “They actually sell that particular move. It’s for purchase. That’s when I really was like … oh nah, this can’t go on too long.”
Yesterday, Alfonso Ribeiro submitted his own legal grievance against the company for profiting off his iconic finger-snapping dance, known as “Fresh” within the game. Although Epic Games at least threw a nod to the moves that originally appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual, Ribeiro is not happy that the developer has “misappropriated” what he considers his “likeness and intellectual property.”
“Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh’. Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property,” Ribeiro explained to TMZ.
The most recent person to enter a legal battle over Fortnite’s dances is the recognised creator of “The Floss,” Russell ‘the Backpack Kid’ Horning. Perhaps the most popular dance associated with the game, the Backpack Kid is only 17 years old, relying on his mother to file the lawsuit on his behalf. Fortnite isn’t the only game in the dance creator’s sights, as Horning has joined Ribeiro in suing NBA 2K for its use of the dance.
Regardless of whether or not Horning was the original creator of The Floss, which is hotly debated, it’s going to be an uphill battle for these dance creators. Business and entertainment lawyer Merlyne Jean-Louis noted in his interview with CBS that US law does not allow for the copyright of choreographed works.
At the very least, it has been regularly suggested that Fortnite opt for the actual names of the dances and potentially add the songs that they are known for behind the dances.
KitGuru Says: Litigation is never the preferred course of action, but it’s easy to see why so many people are annoyed at the immense profit Epic Games is making from the hard work of others. Still, it doesn’t look like the developer is doing anything legally wrong. How do you feel about Fortnite using the dances of others without credit?