In context: In the digital age, it seems just about impossible to even utter a song lyric online without record company lawyers going on the offensive. YouTube makes it even harder with AI that detects copyrighted music in uploaded videos and automatically demonetizes them. Epic ran into this problem in its Fortnite community last week but now has a fix.
Last Monday, Epic added a new Fortnite dance emote called "Never Gonna," which has been colloquially dubbed the "Rickroll" emote. The emote features the chorus from Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" playing in the background. Of course, to legally use the song in the game, Epic had to license it from RCA. No problem, right?
Ironically, Epic neglected to think of the people who helped make Fortnite a global phenomenon in the first place — the streamers and other video content creators. YouTube's copyright algorithms began flagging uploads containing the emote and demonetizing them, even if it was only a small fraction of the video.
Fortunately, Epic quickly realized the oversight and added a toggle to the audio settings of the game that allows players to mute the emote's music. For now, the feature is only available to PC users who have updated to Fortnite version 12.00. However, developers are working on bringing the functionality to all platforms.
PC Players: In the 12.00 update, we've added the ability to mute Licensed Emote Audio. This option is available in the game's Audio settings. pic.twitter.com/UHGYAlXKgH— Fortnite Status (@FortniteStatus) February 19, 2020
"Starting in the 12.00 patch, creators playing on PC have the ability to mute licensed emote music and sounds," Epic tweeted from its Fortnite Status account.
So it sounds like the feature only targets licensed music or sound effects, which not only leaves the audio on other emotes alone, but also allows Epic to add more licensed audio down the road.
So why don't content creators simply stop using the emote? That would alleviate the problem from their end, but the song would still be heard if other players near them used the emote. A screenshot of the setting shows Epic thought of this by making a three-state toggle — Play, Mute Others, and Mute All.
This workaround should be enough to keep the record companies at bay and YouTube's algorithms in check. Such is the price content creators pay in the DMCA world.