While Fortnite Battle Royale's emotes have brought many dances to mainstream popularity, seen everywhere prom halls to football pitches, the artists who actually created those dances haven't always been best thrilled by Epic jacking them. Not only are Epic apparently not paying to use dances in their mega-successful shooter, they're not asking permission or often even informing the creators. Rapper 2 Milly last week said he's considering legal action against Epic for copying his 'Milly Rock' dance, and over the weekend actor Donald Faison joked grumpily about the game copying moves he ad-libbed for an episode of Scrubs.
2 Milly told CBS that it's only because loads of folks told him that he found out his dance was in the game - and on sale.
"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.
He added, "I don't even want to bash them for all the millions. Know what I am saying? It's not really like that. I just feel like I have to protect what's mine."
Fortnite Battle Royale also features dances mighty similar to moves from BlocBoy JB (who wasn't best pleased), Snoop Dogg, Psy, and more. This video from LFP Gaming shows many of the music videos, memes, performances, movies, and TV shows that Fortnite draws from:
US copyright law can protect full choreographed routines but smaller movements don't qualify (though names of moves can be trademarked). Apparently Epic have considered this.
At a Scrubs reunion panel on Saturday, PCGamesN pointed out, the moderator asked Faison about a dance he did as Dr. Turk in one episode - which Fortnite has copied for its default dance. Faison joked that he's never seen any money from that--so far, so Fortnite--but executive producer Bill Lawrence clarified that Epic did consider the legality.
"By the way, just so you guys know, it's real trivia: Fortnite had to enquire for the legality of it, and it's fine because it's just a character dancing" Lawrence said. Then Faison joked on about not getting paid.
Even if it is legal, it's just plain rude to copy someone's dance and sell it without even telling them. Viral dances may spread far and wide but they're certainly not untraceable. And if Epic don't want to voluntarily pay for dances they aren't legally required to, there are other ways to loop people into getting paid.
"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," rapper Chance the Rapper tweeted in July. "Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them."