Lots of people responsible for some of the most recognizable dances are mad at Epic Games. Why? The company has been stealing. There are quite a few games out there, primarily multiplayer affairs, where you can get emotes that make your characters perform a certain action. Fortnite is known for its dances, which are sold for V-Bucks people get with real money. The problem is, Epic Games is profiting off of others’ work and not giving the proper credit.
How did this all get started? Well, it was when Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Epic Games. His Milly Rock dance was stolen and used in Fortnite as the Swipe dance. 2 Milly has filed for a copyright for the dance, as the choreographer and creator of it. No consent was given. Epic just took it, animated it, popped it in the game, and started profiting off of it. No acknowledgement was given to 2 Milly. It was given a different name. But we all know what it is and where it is from. Something an artist, someone who makes a living off of their creativity, has been taken and profited off of. He filed a lawsuit, rightfully so.
In 2 Milly’s December 6, 2018 filing, he named other dances Epic Games had stolen and used in Fortnite. One of them was a dance that appeared in a popular TV show and was created by Alfonso “Carlton” Ribeiro. This led to Ribeiro suing. Which, again, makes sense. The dance appearing in Fortnite is called Fresh. It is identical to the Carlton dance appearing in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He often performed it to “It’s Not Unusual,” by Tom Jones. He even did it when he competed in Dancing with the Stars in 2014. He created this dance. It is iconic and unmistakable. He is even filing a copyright. He does deserve credit for it.
Right now, we are in the bandwagon phase. While 2 Milly and the Ribeiro lawsuits might have merit, what is going on with Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning could be a bit trickier. He became a viral sensation for his Flossing dance. Which is, to be frank, not as complex as 2 Milly or Ribeiro’s dances. That might be a bit more difficult to prove as something that could be deserving of money. But the real issue with his suit are prior statements Horning has made.
Epic Games has had Horning appear at Fortnite events. At the June 2018 E3 Pro-Am, he participated in a charitable match and won $30,000 for charity. When questioned by TMZ, he said he “could care less” about getting paid for the Floss dance emote, as it was a “huge honor” for it to be included. His appearing at events condoning the dance and being shown on the record stating that he didn’t want money for Flossing is not going to bode well for him.
It is tempting to call such lawsuits silly or frivolous. In fact, that is exactly what Epic Games would want. By making this seem like nonsense, it taints public perception and makes it easier to question if 2 Milly, Ribeiro, and Horning have been wronged. But these situations are much more complex. We have scenarios where a company is making money off of the creations of others and not providing compensation or proper credit. That needs to be fixed.