With the help of celebs like Drake and streamers like Ninja, Fortnite quickly became one of the biggest cultural phenomenons in the world of gaming. Epic Games released Fortnite last year, and it’s already come to define a generation of gamers. Parents are sending their kids to get Fortnite lessons, while others battle Fortnite addictions. It’s also taken over the world of porn.
Arguably one of the ways Fortnite maintains its popular status is its customizable qualities. This includes “emotes,” or dances players can either earn from gameplay or purchase within the game. These dances seem to mimic other viral moments in culture, and that’s where a problem lies. The dances in the game are so similar to others that many artists are now accusing Epic Games of stealing or co-opting the moves without any financial compensation or credit.
Back in March, popular Vine star turned YouTuber Marlon Webb called out Fornite for stealing a dance he created back in 2016. The Vine turned into a viral meme many of you might recognize as “Best Mate.”
“I'm not sure if Fortnite knows who I am or if they intentionally stole this concept from me knowing that they could get away with it,” Webb wrote. “Obviously when someone else is profiting off of a concept that you created doesn't feel good, which is why I had to make this video.”
The move, called "Best Mates" in the game, is no longer available for players, but can be used by those who already have the emote from when it was released in Season 3.
Fast forward to September. Not only is Drake known for playing Fortnite, but his collaboration with BlocBoy JB helped put the Memphis rapper and his “shoot” dance on the map. After becoming a viral dance challenge, the dance seemed to make its way into Fortnite’s emotes under the name “Hype.” BlocBoy later called out the game on Twitter for using the "shoot" dance without paying him a dime.
By December, things began to snowball. Rapper 2 Milly filed a lawsuit against the game for allegedly co-opting his “Milly Rock.” The appropriation of the move was also spotted by Chance the Rapper earlier this year. The move is dubbed "Swipe It" in the game, and was released with Season 5, but is no longer attainable.
“Upon information and belief, Epic creates emotes by copying and coding dances and movements directly from popular videos, movies,and television shows without consent," his complaint reads.
Two weeks later, both Fresh Prince star Alfonso Ribeiro and internet celebrity Backpack Kid sued Fortnite and NBA 2K for allegedly taking their respective dance moves. Ribeiro is suing the game for stealing the “Carlton Dance,” which is called “Fresh,” and Backpack Kid is filing a lawsuit over his “Floss” dance. The "Fresh" dance is sold in the game for 800 V-Bucks, while the "Floss" dance is no longer available after it was released with Season 2 of the game.
There are debates about where some of these dance moves originate, or if this can be called “stealing” on behalf of Epic Games.
Part of the issue is the lack of copyrights on many of these viral dances. Rapper 2 Milly and Ribeiro are both reportedly in the process of filing copyrights on their moves. But what about other emotes in the game? As scrutiny of Fortnite increases, we’ve compiled a list of other dance moves the game may have pulled inspiration from.