Erica Flores

Epic Games is being sued for turning rapper 2 Milly …

Fortnite The creator of Epic Games is now facing a lawsuit from hip-hop artist 2 Milly, who claims that the game’s developer kicked off his “Milly Rock” dance move by turning it into a game emote that players can win after spend real money, according to a report by Variety. The lawsuit was filed in California district court on Wednesday.

The lawsuit marks the first formal legal challenge against the gaming industry’s widespread practice of appropriating pop culture, such as dance moves and memes, and turning it into virtual items for sale. Although other developers have done this in the past, including Blizzard with World of warcraft Y Overwatch and Bungie with his Destination SerieEpic does FortniteIt is arguably still the most popular game right now and one of the most lucrative titles in the industry. That understandably puts a bigger goal on your head. (The “Milly Rock” dance has also appeared in NBA 2K18.)

In July 2018, Epic added an emote called “Swipe It” based on the “Milly Rock” that was featured in the artist of the same name’s 2014 music video. Although Epic did not sell the emote directly to players for v- bucks, the Fortnite In in-game currency, he reserved “Swipe It” as an unlockable emote for players who had purchased the $ 10 Battle Pass add-on per season.

“This is not the first time that Epic Games has blatantly misused the likeness of African American talent.” Our client Lenwood ‘Skip’ Hamilton is making similar claims against Epic for the use of his image on the popular character ‘Cole Train’ in the franchise. video game maker ‘Gears of War’, “David L. Hecht, a partner in the firm representing 2 Milly, said Pierce Bainbridge, in a statement.” Epic cannot be allowed to continue taking what does not belong to him. “

Fortnite has more than 200 million registered players across all platforms, and generates hundreds of millions of dollars a month. Unlike games that are sold for a flat fee up front, Fortnite is a free title that earns most of its money through cosmetic items such as costumes and dance emotes. In addition to the “Swipe It” emote, Epic has incorporated popular meme dances, such as the floss dance, and other famous moves from featured music videos, including Snoop Dog’s wheel spinning move from the “Drop It Like It’s Hot” chorus. “(called” Tidy “in Fortnite) and “Shoot” from BlocBoy JB (called “Hype” in Fortnite).

2 Milly’s decision to sue comes after prominent voices in the dance and hip-hop communities, including Chance the Rapper, have raised concerns that Epic will effectively monetize the work of black creators without their permission.

In March, actor Donald Faison, who played the character of Dr. Chris Turk in Scrubs, wondering aloud on Twitter whether he should seek legal advice regarding FortniteThe default dance is a move you performed on the character in the popular medical-themed comedy.

Whether a dance movement can be copyrighted is largely a settled issue; they cannot, as doing so would greatly inhibit the creative expression of the dancers. Unlike novels, photographs, and films, the reproduction of a dance move can be performed by almost anyone, and popular moves often become the building blocks of so-called larger choreographic works, which are protected by copyright, as described in this excellent Well-informed person video breakdown

In other words, dance steps are like words or colors. You cannot apply copyright to a single one, not even to a combination of some of them in succession (although you can register slogans), but in fact you can copyright a ballet, for example.

However, Epic may find itself in uncharted legal territory due to the way it takes a popular dance move and incorporates it into the game. As noted by New york magazine2 Milly’s Bryan Feldman appears to be focusing on Epic’s creative process, particularly using copyrighted music videos to create the animations they use for the game’s emotes.

If Epic’s emote creation process turns out to amount to tracking, it could be really legally complicated to determine if a violation has occurred. Tracking a copyrighted image is generally not an acceptable practice unless all you are doing is practicing for your own personal improvement.

“The exact duplication of source images is probably not legitimate. (For example, making a photorealistic drawing of a photograph without making any changes), writes Kiff Stahle, a photographer and lawyer who runs the blog The Artist JD. “This would be a misappropriation. And it’s likely not fair use, even if not for commercial use, because there is no transformation and it eliminates the possibility of the photographer licensing that photograph. “

It’s an open question whether Epic’s animation process is legally fair in tracking an image, especially if it’s simply using individual frames from a video. There is also the possibility that Epic will create some of their emotes with professional dancers wearing motion capture suits, which would make any legal argument moot and say that Epic is violating the intellectual property of 2 Milly and their record label. In any event, this lawsuit will be a fascinating and precedent-setting experiment in the way copyright law deals with a relatively new and unforeseen type of digital creation.