Is Fortnite Exploiting Hip Hop?
By Justin Moore
Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is valued at $15 billion
Rappers 2 Milly & Blocboy JB’s dances are featured and sold in the game
Popular video game Fortnite is free to play, but if you want your character to hit the Milly Rock or other famous moves that comes with a price. The problem for the creators of those iconic movies is they’re not seeing a dime from Fortnite creator Epic Games and some are suing for copyright infringement.
Why This Matters: Fortnite has become so popular that players around the world are associating these dances with the game rather than their creators. The Milly Rock becomes the “Swipe It.” Blocboy JB’s “Shoot” dance becomes the “Hype.” Many notable Fortnite moves come from hip hop and pop culture is not spared, with moves coming from tv shows The Fresh Prince of Bellaire, Seinfeld and cult classic song Gangnam style.
Video games are big business. Epic Games grossed $3 billion in 2018 and a large part of that revenue can be attributed to Fortnite. Epic is directly selling the dance moves as add-ons to its 125 million players but claims no obligation to compensate creators because the moves are allegedly not eligible for copyright. Copyright law provides protection for full choreographed routines but individual dance moves similar to how a song can be copyrighted but a word cannot.
What’s Next: The Supreme Court recently ruled that a plaintiff suing for copyright infringement must first apply for copyright protection. This procedural maneuver has caused some plaintiffs to drop their lawsuits and get their ducks in a row before refiling. So for now, it remains unclear whether dance creators that do it for the culture will be able to share in the prosperity when video game makers do it for the dollars.
CBx Vibe: “Shoot” BlocBoy JB