Back in my day you could nick as many dance moves as you want and make loads of money off them without having to worry about getting sued.
Actually, you couldn’t, and you can’t do it today either. Epic Games are being sued by several people for allegedly stealing their dance moves and using them in Fortnite, and—more importantly—profiting from them.
First up was the rapper 2 Milly, who has taken exception to his signature dance move, The Milly Rock, being included in the game as a premium emote that was introduced in Season 5 under the name “Swipe It”. Next came Alfonso Ribiero, also known as Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, who is also suing Epic for the use of the infamous “Carlton Dance”, which is included in Fortnite under the name “Fresh”. Wonder how they came up with that one.
Finally, we now have Backpack Kid, famous as the originator of the Floss dance that made him go viral back in 2016. His dance is also in the game, having been introduced in the Season 2 Battle Pass back in December of last year. He’s also suing Epic – well, his mum is suing them for him. Aww.
It’s no coincidence that all three of these are suing Epic, as all three are represented by the same legal firm – Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht. Quite the name, isn’t it?
You may think this is an open and shut case (as they say on all those cool cop shows)—it would be almost impossible to argue that Epic Games didn’t steal these dance moves from the three people that are suing them—but there are complications involved, namely arguing over whether ownership of a dance move is actually a thing. There are sanctions involved (apparently), but all three are currently in the process of trying to claim copyright for their respective dances. It’s possibly a slightly more complicated situation for Backpack Kid (that’s not his real name, FYI), who told TMZ back in June that his dance being included in the game is “not that big a deal” and that he was “just glad that it’s in the game”. Oops. To be fair, he did also say that he thought he should be paid royalties for its inclusion.
It’s a complicated situation, and whether any of these three have any kind of legal standing on the matter is yet to be seen. One thing that is for sure is that they definitely have some moral standing here. They created these dances, and Epic have used them to make, frankly, a shitload of money. The decent thing to do would be to compensate the dances creators or come to some form of financial agreement (or remove the dances from the game altogether) so that all parties involved are treated fairly.
Let’s be honest, Epic Games can afford it.