Characters in the wildly popular video game Fortnite can snag celebratory emotes — read: dances — based on real moves. There’s The Floss, The Worm, and the Electro Shuffle. There’s the Turk Dance as featured on Scrubs and this Seinfeld scene. And, to 2 Milly’s dismay, his Milly Rock dance, dubbed “Swipe It” within the game.
The rapper, real name Terrence Ferguson, says maker Epic Games included his signature move in Fortnite, where it can be bought for $5, without his permission and without offering compensation, in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed Wednesday in California, per Variety and the CBC.
His lawyer tells Kotaku race is a factor, noting it appears “they believe that they can railroad African-American talent because they doubt that there will be any legal consequence,” though the Kotaku points out non-African-Americans could lob similar accusations.
The CBC notes that while Fortnite is free to download, in-game purchases of things like emotes have reeled in more than $1 billion for Epic Games since 2017 in the US alone.
While 2 Milly registered the Milly Rock with the Copyright Office on December 4, a lawyer explains it’s typically the name of a dance move that’s trademarked, rather than the move itself.
The CBC’s take: It was a “smart move” for Epic to tie its brand to the most viral of moves, but it comes at a cost for the originator: “If you weren’t already following rap or internet culture, it would be easy to assume the dance originated in Fortnite.” (Read more copyright infringement stories.)
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