Fortnite is being sued for dance moves, again

The latest in a long line of lawsuits aimed at Fortnite over dance moves comes from Kyle Hanagami, a professional choreographer who has worked with artists including J.Lo, Britney Spears, BlackPink, NSYNC, and more. In a lawsuit filed on March 29, attorneys representing Hanagami sued Epic Games over copyrighted choreography used in the It’s Complicated dance emote, Kotaku reports.

The choreography comes from a video posted by Hanagami in 2017, featuring an uplifting dance routine to Charlie Puth’s How Long. In August 2020, Fortnite released the It’s Complicated emote, with the first section of the dance appearing nearly identical to Hanagami’s choreography. The lawsuit states that Epic “did not credit Hanagami or seek her consent to use, display, reproduce, sell, or create any derivative work based on the recorded choreography,” and Hanagami’s attorneys released a video that compares the moves of the two clips in grainy detail.

A number of similar lawsuits have been filed against Epic Games in the past, but all have since been dropped. In one instance, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro sued Fortnite over the Fresh emote, which featured a dance made famous by Ribeiro’s character, Carlton. The case was dropped as Ribeiro was still awaiting news from the U.S. Copyright Office on his copyright claim for the dance, which was later denied due to the simplicity of the dance. Other lawsuits filed by rapper 2 Milly, Backpack Kid and “Orange Shirt Kid” against other Fortnite dance emotes have also been dropped on “procedural” grounds.

Hanagami’s case could still turn out differently, as the choreographer already owns the copyright to the So Long dance. The emote in question occasionally spins up in the Fortnite Item Shop, where it sells for 500 V-Bucks, the equivalent of around $5. The lawsuit argues that Fortnite took advantage of Hanagami’s copyrighted work without her consent and is asking Epic Games to remove the emote and pay Hanagami any profits derived from it.

“[Hanagami] felt compelled to take legal action in defense of the many choreographers whose work is also misappropriated,” attorney David Hecht told Kotaku in a statement. “Copyright law protects choreography as it does for other forms of artistic expression. Epic should respect that fact and pay to license other people’s artwork before selling it.”

GameSpot may earn a commission on retail offers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.