Epic Games’ Fortnite has been hit with lawsuit after lawsuit over various celebrities claiming the game stole their dance moves. Rapper 2 Milly, the viral backpack kid, and Blocboy JB are just a few that have filed claims over stolen dances.
Now, Epic is fighting back stating “No one can own a dance step”—and they might be right.
You may recall rapper 2 Milly filing a lawsuit against Epic Games claiming his dance, the “Milly Rock” was recreated as an emote in Fortnite called “Swipe It”.
Milly stated he did not give the company permission to use his dance and received no compensation for its use.
According to court documents that were released Monday, Epic filed for dismissal on the grounds that Milly cannot provide enough evidence that his dance and the emote are similar.
“No one can own a dance step,” Epic states according to the court document. “Copyright law is clear that individual dance steps and simple dance routines are not protected by copyright, but rather are building blocks of free expression, which are in the public domain for choreographers, dancers, and the general public to use, perform, and enjoy.”
“Similarly, even focusing solely on the Dance Step itself, it is different from Swipe It,” as shown by the accompanying video clip, the Dance Step consists of a side step to the right while swinging the left arm horizontally across the chest to the right, and then reversing the same movement on the other side …
By contrast, as shown in another video clip, Swipe It consists of (1) varying arm movements, sometimes using a straight, horizontal arc across the chest, and other times starting below the hips and then traveling in a diagonal arc across the body, up to the shoulder, while pivoting side to side on the balls and heels of the feet, (2) a wind up of the right arm before swiping, and (3) a rolling motion of the hands and forearms between swipes.”
You may also remember Fresh Prince star Alfonso Ribeiro filing a lawsuit for a similar claim, stating the game stole his iconic “Carlton Dance.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ribeiro’s claim was denied by the copyright office because it was a “simple dance routine.”
“The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner,” wrote Saskia Florence, a specialist in the copyright office’s performing arts division.
“In the second dance step, the dancer takes two steps to each side while opening and closing their legs and their arms in unison. In the final step, the dancer’s feet are still and they lower one hand from above their head to the middle of their chest while fluttering their fingers. The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.”
What are your thoughts on the alleged claims that Fortnite is stealing dance moves? Do you agree that dance steps cannot be owned? Sound off in the comments below!