Fortnite is collaborating with artists and dancers after a list of lawsuits caused headaches for the company and the creators whose work they were accused of using without permission.
Rappers BlocBoy JB and 2 Milly both sued Fortnite and its parent company, Epic Games, last year for allegedly stealing their dance moves and profiting off them. Other dancers like Russell Horning, the teen who made the ”floss” dance popular, and Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor who popularized the “Carlton,” also attempted to sue.
Each of the lawsuits were dropped in March after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that registration through the Copyright Office must be completed before an individual can sue for copyright infringement. The rulings also forced people to revisit an ongoing debate over whether or not you can put a copyright on dance moves.
Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the lawsuits sparked a broader conversation on cultural appropriation as many Fortnite players cited the game as the originator for many of the dances featured in its emotes. Blocboy JB said as much in a tweet last year.
EveryTime Somebody Does My Dance Dey Give Credit To @FortniteGame But Dey Ain’t Create Nothing But Da Game So Basically Dey Takin Money And Credit For My Shit Dats Crazy
— Biggest Crip (@BlocBoy_JB) September 10, 2018
Now, Fortnite is partnering with influencers and dancers to create more emotes for the game. Social media star @YouFunnyB, also known as B-NARD, collaborated with the company to turn his dance, the ”Billy Bounce,” into an emote.
The Billy Bounce emote is available on Fortnite for about $5, but many of @YoufunnyB’s fan’s want to know if the multi-billion dollar company is actually cutting him a check. Neither Fortnite nor @YoufunnyB would offer insight on whether the dancer was being compensated, but the initial move to have him featured could be a step in the right direction.
The streaming world is a fairly new portion of the gaming world and as more people are involved in it professionally and for personal use, issues like who gets credit for a dance and how much they should be paid will come up more and more.