On December 5, 2018, New York rapper, 2 Milly, filed a claim for copyright infringement alleging that video game creator, Epic Games (Epic), infringed 2 Milly’s signature dance moves by selling the dance moves as a character upgrade in its popular Fortnite game.

In 2014, 2 Milly released a rap song entitled “Milly Rock” along with an accompanying music video in which 2 Milly performed his signature dance.  “Milly Rock” was listed on the iTunes Top 200 in its first week and the video now has over 18 million views on YouTube.  2 Milly’s claim alleges that his “Milly Rock” dance is distinctive and is part of the rapper’s identity.

According to the claim, Epic exploited the dance move’s popularity by selling the dance as an in-game purchase in Fortnite, under the name “Swipe It”.  The claim also alleges that Epic copied the dances and movements of numerous African-American performers, including Snoop Dogg.

Interestingly, 2 Milly’s claim also states that the artist is currently in the process of registering the Milly Rock dance with the US Copyright Office.  However, guidance from the US Copyright Office states that “[i]ndividual movements or dance steps by themselves are not copyrightable, such as the basic waltz step, the hustle step, the grapevine, or the second position in classical ballet… even if a routine is novel or distinctive.” 2 Milly’s case may help clarify whether dance moves may be copyrighted in the US.

Summary By: Michelle Noonan

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