Following a number of lawsuits accusing the developer of “misappropriating” popular dances by African American performers, Epic Games has now worked in collaboration with YouFunnyB, the creator of the Billy Bounce dance, to include it as a dance emote in Fortnite.
In a recent tweet on Twitter, YouFunnyB said: “[Shout out to] Fortnite for letting me add my dance to the game Billy Bounce. Did it for yah of course yah enjoy yourselves.”
It’s unclear if YouFunnyB has been financially compensated for the dance, and as Polygon reports, neither the dance creator nor Epic have confirmed either way.
For several months now, the artists behind some of Fortnite’s most iconic moves have been calling on developer Epic to compensate them. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro and Rapper 2 Milly filed unsuccessful lawsuits against Epic Games for replicating and selling their dance moves in Fortnite.
There’s no precedent case law in copyrighting choreography, and patents for individual dance moves cannot be made to the US Copyright Office due to creative choreographic expression, resulting in Ribeiro failing to copyright the dance. Despite this, some performers have proceeded with their own lawsuits, alleging Epic of infringement of copyright, contributory infringement of copyright, violation of publicity rights, and unfair competition.
David Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, the law firm representing 2 Milly and Ribeiro before their cases were dismissed, said: “It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite.
“Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like ‘Fresh’, yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property. Epic uses the Running Man, and other dances, to create the false impression that Epic started these dances and crazes or that the artist who created them is endorsing the game.”