Epic Games sued by choreographer for allegedly using copyrighted dance moves in Fortnite

Epic Games sued by choreographer for allegedly using copyrighted dance moves in Fortnite

by Tech News
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WTF?! In late 2018 and early 2019, so many people tried to sue Epic Games over claims it stole their dance moves and used them in Fortnite that it looked like a trend. None succeeded, but a new suit has been launched by a choreographer who has an advantage that the previous plaintiffs didn’t: he owns the copyright to the dance in question.

Kotaku reports that the person suing Epic this time is Kyle Hanagami, a professional choreographer. He’s worked with several massive names, including Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and NSYNC. He also created dances for Netflix’s animated movie Over the Moon.

The dance that Hanagami says copies his own is Fortnite’s It’s Complicated emote. It was introduced in August 2020, while the dance he says it replicates—one he choreographed set to Charlie Puth’s “How Long”—was posted in 2017. You can see a side-by-side comparison (below) posted by Hanagami’s lawyer, David Hecht, and they do appear identical.

Hanagami joins Fresh Prince’s Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton Banks from the show), BlocBoy JB, rapper 2 Milly, and the boy known as Orange Shirt Kid in suing Epic Games for allegedly copying dance moves and putting them in Fortnite without permission. Those previous cases failed because the Supreme Court agreed with Epic’s argument: individual moves could not be copyrighted, so none of the people held the rights to the dances they claimed were theirs.

The difference with Hanagami’s case is that he does own the official copyright to the How Long dance. And that could spell trouble for Epic Games.

The It’s Complicated emote sells for 500 V-Bucks, the equivalent of around $5, on the Fortnite Item Shop, where its availability is rotated. The suit claims Epic Games profited from Hanagami’s work without his consent. It asks that the emote be removed, and Hanagami is paid the profits Epic earned from it.

Hecht told Kotaku: “[Hanagami] felt compelled to file suit to stand up for the many choreographers whose work is similarly misappropriated. Copyright law protects choreography just as it does for other forms of artistic expression. Epic should respect that fact and pay to license the artistic creations of others before selling them.”

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