Rapper 2 Milly is going ahead with his lawsuit against Epic Games for allegedly stealing his dance, the “Milly Rock,” and putting it into Fortnite as an emote called “Swipe It,” which was a season 5 Battle Pass reward.
The lawsuit was filed on December 5th with the Central District Court of California, and it accuses Epic of copyright infringement. Pierce Bainbridge is the law firm representing 2 Milly.
“I was never compensated by Epic Games for their use of the ‘Milly Rock,’” the rapper stated in a press release. “They never even asked for my permission.”
2 Milly popularized the “Milly Rock” with a 2014 music video that has over 17 million views on YouTube. The rapper just filed the dance with the Copyright Office on December 4th.
In addition to copyright infringement, the lawsuit also alleges Epic Games of violating 2 Milly’s publicity rights in using his likeness in the form of his dance. Obviously, 2 Milly doesn’t appear as a character in the game, but the lawsuit claims that Epic modeled “Swipe It” on the rapper’s version of the dance, constituting his “likeness.”
The most interesting aspect of the lawsuit, however, is that Pierce Bainbridge and 2 Milly’s lawyer, David Hecht, are calling this a racial matter, a notion that was first popularized by Chance the Rapper in a tweet, who stated that Epic should include the songs behind the dance moves it uses in Fortnite and compensate those artists for their indirect contributions to the popular battle royale game. Fortnite does include emotes inspired from white artists as well as black artists, but Hecht alleges that Epic believes “that they can railroad African American talent because they doubt that there will be any legal consequence,” according to a statement to Kotaku.
Fortnite is perhaps as well known for its emotes as it is for its battle royale gameplay, so it will be interesting to see what will happen to those emotes if 2 Milly successfully sues Epic Games. Seeing as the battle royale mode is a free-to-play game, Fortnite‘s dance moves, back bling, and characters skins constitute a major revenue stream for the billion-dollar property, and Epic is undoubtedly reinvesting some of that money to release a more creator-friendly alternative to Steam.