The Fortnite Dance Controversy

Fortnite Default Dance

Thomas W.

Fortnite Default Dance

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Fortnite has been a very popular game throughout 2018. It is well known for its battle royale, the cool skins, and the Emotes. The game is free but there are a lot of in-game purchases. People use real money in exchange for V-Bucks, the in-game currency of Fortnite. These can be used to buy player skins and Emotes. Emotes are dances the game uses for players to express themselves. Many people think of Fortnite when they see these dances performed anywhere. The game has many Emotes, but where do they really come from? Dances like the default dance and the floss aren’t from Fortnite. Recently, Epic Games (the company that owns Fortnite) is being sued for making a profit off of the dances that they don’t own. This event has been called the Fortnite Dance Controversy.

Recently, Fortnite has been accused of stealing many dances from hip-hop artists. So far, there hasn’t been a lawsuit but a question is repeated: does copyright protect the use of the dances? Some of the dances are from artists like Snoop Dogg, BlocBoy JB, and 2 Milly. One of the dances in Fortnite is called “Swipe It,” which is the signature dance of 2 Milly called the “Milly Rock”. 2 Milly has threatened a lawsuit against Fortnite for stealing and renaming his dance. One of the first artists to report on the Controversy was Chance the Rapper. He stated that Fortnite is unfairly profiting off of already named and recognizable dances without giving credit or compensation to creators. On a Twitter post, he typed, “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.” The dances can have copyright protection but only if they have “a series of movements that are arranged in a unique, original sequence”. In other words, one dance move can’t be subject to copyright but an entire dance can.

On December 5, 2018, rapper 2 Milly was successful in filing a lawsuit against Fortnite and suing Epic Games of ripping off his “Milly Rock” dance. His lawsuit is the first formal legal challenge against the widespread game industry practice of appropriation of pop-culture and turning it into virtual items for sale. Epic Games is one of few game companies that has done something like this.

So far, the controversy is growing in size. A district court will handle the problem, but they haven’t started to decide. Pierce Bainbridge, a supporter of 2 Milly, has said, “Epic cannot be allowed to continue to take what does not belong to it.”

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