The latest in a long line of lawsuits against Fortnite over dance moves comes from Kyle Hanagami, a professional choreographer who has worked with the likes of J.Lo, Britney Spears, BlackPink, NSYNC, and others. In a lawsuit filed March 29, attorneys for Hanagami sued Epic Games over copyrighted choreography used in the dance emote It’s Complicated, Kotaku reports.
The choreography comes from a video Hanagami posted in 2017 that features a challenging 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 almost identical to Hanagami’s choreography. The lawsuit states that Epic “did not credit Hanagami or obtain its consent to use, display, reproduce, sell, or create a derivative work based on the registered choreography,” and Hanagami’s attorneys released a video demonstrating the movements in both clips are compared for granular detail.
A number of similar lawsuits have been filed against Epic Games in the past, but all have since been dropped. In one case, 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 waiting to hear from the US Copyright Office his copyright request for the dance, which was later rejected due to the dance’s simplicity. Other lawsuits filed by rappers 2 Milly, Backpack Kid and “Orange Shirt Kid” over other Fortnite dance emotes have also been dropped on “procedural” grounds.
Hanagami’s case could be different as the choreographer already owns the copyright for the So Long dance. The emote in question occasionally rotates through the Fortnite Item Shop, where it sells for 500 V-Bucks, which is around $5. The lawsuit argues that Fortnite profited from Hanagami’s copyrighted work without his consent, and is urging Epic Games to remove the emote and pay Hanagami any profits made from it.
“[Hanagami] was compelled to file a lawsuit to stand up for the many choreographers whose work is similarly abused,” attorney David Hecht told Kotaku in a statement. “Copyright protects choreography just like other forms of artistic expression. Epic should respect that fact and pay to license the artistic creations of others before selling them.”
GameSpot may receive a commission from retail listings.