Three dancers sue Fortnite over dance moves and emotes.
In case you hadn’t heard, Fortnite is now the most popular and successful free-to-play console title of all time. This success means Fortnite is earning record revenues and currently boasts over 200 million players across the globe.
But now Fortnite is facing legal battles over copyright infringement.
Three people are suing Epic Games, Fortnite’s publisher. They claim the popular game stole their dance moves and turned them into emotes for players to perform.
If you are yet to play Fortnite, you might not understand what emotes are and why they’re causing serious legal action.
Essentially, emotes are actions players can purchase for their characters to perform in game. Players use emotes to celebrate victories or taunt their opponents.
So where does the copyright infringement come in?
Well, popular real-life dance moves often form the basis of the emotes and dance moves found in the game.
Three claimants, including rapper 2 Milly, are accusing Fortnite of using their dances without permission, and making money from it.
“People say, ‘I see people doing your dance in YouTube videos, so you going to sue them?’ It’s like promotion, really — it’s spreading the brand,” 2 Milly says. “But when you actually sell [what] somebody else created, it becomes theft.”
Now, all three have filed to sue Fortnite for copyright infringement. What’s more, law firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht is handling all three cases.
What moves are causing all the chaos?
Rapper 2 Milly’s signature viral dance move, the ‘Milly Rock’ influenced the ‘Swipe It’ emote. Stars from Rihanna to Travis Scott have performed the move onstage.
Next is the ‘Floss’, popularised by Russell Horning, aka the Backpack Kid from Instagram.
Finally, Alfonso Ribeiro from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air claims the “Carlton dance”.
What happens next?
The process of claiming copyright ownership is plagued with issues. This is particularly true when considering the extremely short length of these dance moves used to Fortnite’s emotes.
According to Christine Lepera, an attorney who represents Drake, Timbaland and others: “You cannot copyright certain dance moves that are generic. From what I’ve seen online, I’ve done these [Milly Rock] moves in hip-hop [dance] class for years — it’s a pivot, heel-out, heel-out, and swing your arms.”
No matter what the outcome of these legal cases, the games publisher is likely to see some backlash. Furthermore, it’s likely to affect the wider gaming industry as a whole. Now, other creators face the possibility of similar cases.