There’s a reason why Fortnite is among the most played game but as it turns out, it’s not all fun and games in the popular Battle Royale game’s world. Fortnite is known for its outrageous and unique emotes however it seems they didn’t get permission to use and sell them from the “original” creators. For starters, there’s artist 2 Milly who filed a lawsuit on December 5th, 2018 over alleged misappropriation, use, and sale of his signature dance move, now dubbed, the Milly Rock. Let’s keep in mind though that Epic Games is not the first developer to use the Milly Rock dance; it was also seen in NBA 2k18.
More recently Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Star, Alfonso Ribiero, who played as Carlton Banks is supposedly suing Fortnite for using his iconic dance style as an emote. He filed the lawsuit on December 17th, 2018 to the federal court on grounds that Epic games and 2k games went ahead and included his dance to their games without any permission or credit. In a statement to Variety, David L. Hecht, a partner at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP had this to say:
“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. Therefore, Mr. Ribeiro is seeking his fair and reasonable share of profits Epic has earned by use of his iconic intellectual property in ‘Fortnite’ and as a result is requesting through the courts that Epic cease all use of Mr. Ribeiro’s signature dance.”
Other emotes seen in Fortnite such as “Floss” or “Hype” are also under scrutiny as more rappers are coming forward claiming rights to the dance moves. So far, Epic games has not released a comment on the topic but what does this mean for Fortnite?
Right now, Fortnite seems safe but let’s get one thing straight; according to Insider: a dance move cannot be copyrighted because, as special as it might be, it’s really just body movements that can be performed by anyone. What is protected by copyright though is a string of dance moves otherwise known as a choreographic work (see here). However, with this in mind, Epic Games is not out of the woods yet and this depends on how Fortnite creates its emotes.
As of now, Fortnite still remains one of the most popular games out there and Epic Games has yet to release a comment.
Stephen is a gamer, experienced in immersive story, racing games and he casually plays first person shooters. He's been playing video games ever since the “Nintendo NES era” of consoles. He has taken interest in publishing game related articles in Kenya because there is a gap in our gaming industry in publishing consistent gaming content that would keep Kenya and African gamers updated on what’s going on in the gaming industry. He thrives in a creative and a team based working environment and always keeps an open mind in trying new game genres.