Fortnite developers pulled the classic Rick-roll on its nearly 10 million Twitter followers by tweeting what was supposedly a cute polar bear video. However, the link led to a clip the team had cobbled together of a couple of avatars dancing to the song.
The tweet was not just a prank, however. It was an announcement for a new emote called “Never Gonna.” It resembles the way Rick Astley dances in his official video and will be available to players for 500 V-bucks (about $5) in the Fortnite shop. Someone has already used the emote to remake Astley’s original 1987 video in-game — backdrops, camera cuts, and pans included.
Fortnite has fielded several lawsuits over allegedly ripping off dance moves and using them for emotes. Everyone from the Orange Shirt Kid to Alfonso Ribeiro has filed legal complaints against Epic Games for stealing their “signature” jigs. However, under copyright law, individual movements or dances like the Hustle or Waltz cannot be copyrighted. So currently, all the lawsuits are in limbo in the courts.
It is not likely that Epic will have to worry about Astley filing a lawsuit, though, as his music accompanies the emote in-game. Using someone else’s music, commercially or otherwise, is not a legal gray area. Record labels and other companies regularly issue DMCA notices to YouTube users who upload videos containing songs they own, even if it’s just playing quietly in the background. So we can safely assume Epic has licensed Astley’s work, which is a first for Fortnite dance emotes.