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Rappers want Epic Games to pay them for using their moves as emotes in Fortnite


Sunday, during the Soccer world cup final between France and Croatia, Antoine Griezmann, the French national team forward, scored a penalty goal and then celebrated with Fortnite's "Do The L" dance emote. It is also not the first time that Fortnite moves spill over into real life events. These dance emotes are used to signal a moment of victory, and we've seen it in several NBA moments, in professional soccer, and baseball. There is no denying that Fornite's dance emotes is a thing, but not everyone is happy about that fact.

Soccer World Cup.jpg

Antoine Griezmann performing "Do the L" during the soccer world cup

Chance the Rapper, an American rapper (he has won three Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album) and philanthropist, stated on Twitter that he believes Epic Games should share the money they make from the emotes with the original black artists that made the moves so popular. "Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes," explains Chance the Rapper. "Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them."

His intention might've been noble to start this conversation, but it turned into something ugly and ended about being about race more than about rewarding artists. Some followers also pointed out that white dancers are behind some of the emotes. Be that as it may, some very good points were raised on both sides of the real argument - should the original dancers/rappers receive royalties? The emotes also function without music, so does that disqualify it entirely?

When one follower pointed out that Epic did all the work to digitize these moves and that it isn't something that royalties should be paid on, and that you cannot trademark a dance move, Chance the Rapper simply replied with, "no u just don’t believe the black one should."

But here's the thing, someone compiled a video of 58 Fortnite dance emotes, and it's a wonderful mixture of different races, genders, fictional characters, and moments from popular films or TV series.


So, let's leave race out of this, and look at the real debate.

Dance moves have been patented before, but it is indeed a very rare thing. One example is Michael Jackson's move where he leans forward at an odd angle in the song "Smooth Criminal." That patent has since expired and you'll struggle to find more examples of dance moves that have been patented.

The one side argues that these Rappers that made the moves so popular are not only not compensated, but they're also not credited in any way in Fortnite.

"Actually it is a huge issue. Would you like someone to plagiarize your ideas & then make huge profit? What He’s saying is that these appropriators need to start recognizing who created these moves. Especially since our culture is known to appropriate black creativity and culture," argues one follower. "Because 10 years from know when those kids are older it'll still be the Fortnite dances. And those creators or influencers will be forgotten except by the culture without making a dime. Erasing their legacy."

While the other side argues that the artists' legacy is their music, not the moves and that you cannot own a movement. But you can copyright choreography. The Copyright Act of 1976 included works of choreography, but that leads to further controversy; when does a movement constitutes a dance that can be copyrighted, and secondly, you have to follow the legal procedure to have that dance protected, which none of the Rappers has done.

It is only now that Fortnite made it so popular that they are paying attention to it. That being said, I do think that the artists should at least be credited in the game. However, as you've seen in the above video, it won't be a simple thing to credit, and does this mean games like World of Warcraft should also credit their dance emotes?

What do the Fortnite players think about this issue? Should the artists behind these moves receive credit and/or compensation?

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"Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them"

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