Memphis multiplatinum rapper, performer, producer, and personality Blocboy JB, known for the songs “Shoot,” “Look Alive” and “Rover,” has filed suit against Epic Games, Inc.
Blocboy JB’s “Look Alive” stood out as one of the most-streamed songs of 2018, and is nearing quadruple platinum certification, solidifying his place at the forefront of culture-shaping artists today.
Fortnite, which is free to play, has generated a fortune through in-game purchases, including emotes, which players can buy to customize their in-game avatars.
“Epic has achieved so much success with Fortnite that it announced $100 million in prizes in May 2018, positioning the game as the biggest e-sport in history. Yet Epic has failed to pay artists like Blocboy JB a penny. When it comes to licensing, Epic seems to have no problem doing licensing deals with other multi-billion dollar companies like the NFL and Marvel Studios – but it refuses to compensate individual artists like Bloc,” Hecht added.
However, various celebrities and entertainers have accused Epic of cultural misappropriation for Epic’s use and sale of various dance crazes started by African-American artists, including the Shoot and Milly Rock.
“Epic has a history of brazenly misappropriating the likeness and intellectual property of talent, particularly African-American artists.” – David L. Hecht, partner at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP
“Instead of approaching Blocboy JB to negotiate a license, Epic took his ‘Shoot’ dance and renamed it the ‘Hype.’ As a result, many are calling the dance by Epic’s name, the ‘Hype,’ and being led to believe that the dance originated from Epic. That is exactly the type of cultural misappropriation that other rappers have called Epic out on and we are seeking to remedy with this case.”
Blocboy JB’s complaint against Epic was filed Thursday in the Central District of California.
His claims include copyright infringement, violation of the right of publicity, unfair competition, and trademark infringement.
“I just don’t think it’s fair what Epic is doing,” said Blocboy JB. “I started the dance and made it popular through my music. Epic didn’t ask me if they could put it in Fortnite.”
The Legal Argument Against Fortnite
Blocboy JB is also being represented by entertainment attorney Sandy Lal in this action.
According to Sandy Lal, the case may seem complicated, but at the end of the day, it boils down to simple legal common sense.
“Blocboy JB is a 360-degree entertainer whose contributions to the entertainment community boldly exceed his recordings. His ‘Shoot’ dance is among his most recognizable creations,” Sandy Lal said. “We will fight tooth-and-nail to protect Blocboy JB’s rights.
“Epic certainly couldn’t appropriate one of Blocboy JB’s songs without licensing it, so how did they expect to hijack his dance without permission? I’m very happy to be working with Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP on this matter. We will set a precedent by swiftly winning this case, positioning Blocboy as an industry hero,” Sandy Lal said.