Pop culture appropriation embroiled in its first legal battle with rapper 2 Milly filing a lawsuit against Fortnite creator, Epic Games. The hip-hop artist claims that the game developer is using his signature dance moves to sell an in-game emote called "Swipe It." The lawsuit was filed in California District on Wednesday.
The emote was introduced in July 2018 and Changed on "Milly Rock," taken from 2 Milly's highly popular 2014 music video by the same name. Even though Epic did not sell the emote directly to the players, it did include unlockable "Swipe It" as part of its $10 seasonal Battle Pass add-on.
A Case Of Cultural Misappropriation?
2 Milly's lawyers have not only accused Epic of stealing the artist's signature moves for commercial gains, but also called it a racial matter.
The debate was started last week by Chance the Rapper when proposed to Epic Games via Twitter to include the actual music along with the dance moves rather than just featuring silent emotes.
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 — Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2018
Some other musicians also chimed in, raising a concern with the makers of Fortnite to give credit to the artists. The discussion quickly steered in the direction of how black artists' work is being used by mainstream culture, without giving them the credit.
According to Malik Forté, a presenter for Blizzard's Overwatch League, even though the "Milly Rock" dance has been around for years, the Fortnite players will not only know it by a different name but may also think of it as an Epic creation.
"For the culture, I thought u should know the true origin," he wrote on Twitter, which was also retweeted by 2 Milly.
Fortnite has more than 200 million registered players and the company makes millions of dollars by selling its in-game downloadable content like dance emotes and character skins. However, 2 Milly voiced out his concern of never being compensated for the use of "Milly Rock" dance.
"They never even asked for my permission," he said in a press release. "I am thrilled to have David Hecht and his team at Pierce Bainbridge representing me to help right this wrong."
The Swipe It dance emote can be unlocked by players at tier 63 by paying $9.50. They can also pay a little extra and unlock the emote without drudging for it. The dance also features on Fortnite's marketing content, without ever giving the credit to 2 Milly, something that the hip-hop singer's fans didn't fail to notice.
It was Not the First Time, And It Won't Be the Last
This is not the first time that Epic Games has been accused by an artist for stealing their signature moves. Donald Faison of "Scrubs" fame also expressed his anguish over developer's use of his moves he created for a song called "Poison."
Dear fortnite... I’m flattered? Though part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer... — Donald Faison (@donald_faison) April 1, 2018
For now, it is not known what will be the consequences for Fortnite who has been copying dance moves from many artists and selling it for a hefty profit.