In the summer of 2015, rapper 2 Milly went “Milly Rocking” on every block in Brooklyn, turning the hip-hop two-step into the viral dance of the summer. People started doing the “Milly Rock” on fire escapes, on top of cars, in the end zone after scoring touchdowns. Rihanna was doing it. Travis Scott did it. “If you ain’t Milly Rockin’, you ain’t doing nothing,” 2 Milly, whose real name is Terrence Ferguson, told Vice in 2015.
But then one day this past July, some unwanted “Milly Rockers” were brought to the rapper’s attention: Fortnite avatars.
“Everybody was like, ‘Yo, your dance is in the game,’” 2 Milly told CBS News last month.
The moves appeared unmistakable, 2 Milly said. The dancing avatar swung her left arm, then her right, spun her fists in a circular motion, then twisted her hips and did it all again. In Fortnite, the massively popular battle-royale video game, the “dance emote” was not called the “Milly Rock.” Instead, the move was called “Swipe It,” a victory dance that players could unlock after purchasing an add-on package for 950 “V-bucks,” or about $9.50. Players recognized the dance immediately — just as they had so many other popular viral dances that appear to be included in Fortnite but were made famous by mostly black artists.
Now, 2 Milly is suing over it.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, not only of stealing 2 Milly’s dance moves and his likeness without permission, but also exploiting various African American artists’ talent without credit. The accusation that Fortnite has been appropriating black music and dance culture for financial gain has been simmering for months, sparking debate over whether Fortnite has unfairly re-branded the popular dances as “#fortnitedances” while the creators don’t share any of the profits.
The lawsuit points to a plethora of examples. Snoop Dogg’s 2004 dance from “Drop It Like It’s Hot” is named “Tidy” in Fortnite, the suit claims. Alfonso Ribeiro’s famous “Carlton Dance” from the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is named “Fresh.” Marlon Webb’s moves in the viral “Band of the Bold” Jogging Man Challenge video are named the “Best Mates” emote, the suit claims, while Donald Faison’s signature dance on the TV show “Scrubs” is simply called “Dance…
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