One of the most recognizable elements of Fortnite are the in-game emotes. These dances are often instantly recognizable as popular real-life dances, though some of the emotes achieve a different sort of notoriety as “Fortnite dances” — ignoring the creators who originally popularized them. Many have previously questioned Epic’s use of the real-life dances as inspiration, and rapper Terrence Ferguson, better known by his stage name 2 Milly, is doing something about it. He’s suing the company for copyright infringement, accusing Epic of appropriating his “Milly Rock” dance.
According to Ferguson’s suit, the ironically named Swipe It emote from the game — which was contained in Fortnite’s season 5 Battle Pass — is identical to his signature “Milly Rock” dance, and Epic sold it without his consent or credit.
Ferguson filed his complaint against Epic Games, through his lawyers, on Dec. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit states that he’s seeking “injunctive relief and damages including but not limited to, Epic’s profits attributed to its improper use of the Milly Rock and Ferguson’s likeness.”
The complaint suggests that Epic’s handling of “Milly Rock” and its similarity to the game’s Swipe It dance is part of a larger pattern by the company of “exploiting African-American talent in particular in Fortnite by copying their dances and movements.” The complaint goes on to list things such as the Tidy emote, similar to Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” dance; the Fresh emote, which is similar to Alfonso Ribeiro’s famous Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; and the Best Mates emote, which looks a lot like the move from Marlon Webb’s Band of the Bold video series.
The suit notes that Ferguson officially applied for copyright protection of the Milly Rock dance with the U.S. Copyright Office on Dec. 4, one day before the complaint against Epic Games was filed.
Polygon has reached out to Epic Games seeking comment on the suit.