2018 will go down in the records of pop culture insanity for the surprising popularity of a series of dance moves including the Floss, Fresh, and SwipeIt, among others. All are instantly recognizable among the estimated 200 million players of the online gaming and pop culture juggernaut, Fortnite.
But before Fortnite monetized these moves, the now-iconic dances were the creation of artists and performers. With Fortnite generating an estimated $100 million in revenue per month, an increasing number of artists are charging that the game developers misappropriated their moves without sharing in the proceeds.
Fortnite is now facing copyright lawsuits filed by rapper 2 Milly, former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro, and an Instagram star known as “Backpack Kid” seeking damages while others are threatening to file additional lawsuits.
“There is a tension underlying the creative process – society wants people to be creative but we have to protect those who do the original creating,” says intellectual property lawyer Amanda Greenspon of Munck Wilson Mandala, a technology-focused law firm with offices in Dallas, Austin and Los Angeles. “Fortnite has become an enormously profitable game that’s based in large part on a database of pop culture icons embedded in the game experience. These artists are upset that the developers are using their works without any compensation while simultaneously reaping millions of dollars.”
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