American rapper 2 Milly wishes to pursue legal action against Fortnite, for stealing and profiting off his signature dance move, ‘Milly Rock’, which brought viral fame for the Brooklyn-based artist and his crew over three years ago. The developers at Epic Games routinely lift from popular culture for its dance emotes — available via in-app purchases for Rs. 400 or $5 — and the ‘Milly Rock’ was renamed as ‘Swipe It’ for the battle royale game’s fifth season earlier this year.
“They actually sell that particular move. It’s for purchase,” 2 Milly told CBS News. “That’s when I really was like, ‘Oh nah, this can’t go on too long.’” It won’t be easy for 2 Milly to make a legal case out of it though, an entertainment lawyer told CBS News, since there isn’t a “body of case law” in regard to “choreographic works” in the US.
“I don’t even want to bash them for all the millions,” 2 Milly added. “Know what I am saying? It’s not really like that. I just feel like I have to protect what’s mine.”
This saga has been going on since July, in one form or another. The ‘Swipe It’ dance emote is one of several in Fortnite that has been inspired by the work of African-American artists. Noting the rise in popularity and the revenue generated for Epic Games, Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper tweeted in July:
“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.”
In a statement to Kotaku then, 2 Milly added: “I do feel like Chance was very correct in what he said and that if you would have incorporated the song along with the dance title ‘Milly Rock’ in Fortnite, instead of not using the record and changing the name to the ‘Swipe it’ stealing away from my artwork, then I’d might be ok with it if we worked out some type of agreement.”
“I do take it as a very big deal. I just wish [Epic Games] would have reached out with a payout and a contract, being that I am solely the creator of the dance and song ‘Milly Rock’. I don’t feel it’s appropriate that my art, which is a big part of culture, is basically stolen.”
Given Fortnite is free-to-play, the emotes — as with other in-app purchases — are central to the game’s monetisation structure. Epic Games has grossed over a billion dollars in microtransactions alone, according to reports.