Rapper 2 Milly filed a lawsuit against the Fortnite producers on Wednesday, saying they were illegally using a dance he created in their wildly popular video game.
The Brooklyn-based rapper, whose real name is Terrence Ferguson, claims that the Epic Games based in North Carolina appropriated his moves without compensation or credit in the lawsuit filed with the Los Angeles Federal Court.
The lawsuit says that the dance known on Fortnite as "Swipe It", one of the many that players can buy for their characters, is taken from "Milly Rock", a dance that invented in 2011 that has taken hold like a craze the summer of 2015 after the release of a song and a video of the same name.
Ferguson says that the game steals his creation and accordingly appropriates his likeness. He is requesting the order of a judge that the game stops using the dance and that the damages are determined later.
"They never even asked for my permission," 2 Milly said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Epic Games declined the comment.
The game at the last cry, Fortnite, quickly became one of the most popular in history since its release in 2017.
Players can use real money to buy the currency of the game that gets their clothes, gear or "emote", short dances that have become a cultural phenomenon played on the playgrounds, in posts on social media and in the celebrations of professional athletes.
2 Milly is not the first prominent person to complain about the use of Fortnight's moves.
Chance the Rapper has criticized the game for not including the songs behind some of his dances, giving the artists the opportunity to share his wealth.
The actor Donald Faison, whose dance by the telefilm Scrubs appears in an "emote", he tweeted in March: "Dear fortnite … I'm flattered? Although a part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer."
In addition to specific choreography within a specific copyrighted work, dance moves can be difficult to sue.
Jennifer Rothman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said in an e-mail that 2 Milly could have a potential copyright claim or a publicity request if dance is a characteristic move that identifies it and causes players to think approved the game. But the rights of free speech of Epic Games can overcome these statements.
"It is likely that there will be the first amendment and fair use defenses … in the context of a video game," said Rothman, "which is intended as a completely protected speech, like films and books."