Fortnite is being sued by famed choreographer Kyle Hanagami for duplicating a series of dance moves that were copyrighted by the dancer in 2017.
In 2020 Fortnite released a “It’s Complicated” dance emote which Mr Hanagami claims was a direct copyright of dance moves from choreography he did to Charlie Puth’s song “How Long” in 2017. The lawsuit was filed in California against Fortnite developer Epic Games where David Hecht, lawyer for Mr Hanagami, stated that they “did not credit Hanagami nor seek his consent to use, display, reproduce, sell, or create a derivative work based on the Registered Choreography”.
Registration of the choreography was made some three years before Fortnite’s dance emote. As part of their submissions to the court, Mr Hecht put forward a side-by-side comparison of the two dances which look extremely similar and also noted that Epic Games used the “hook” of the dance without consent.
Mr Hanagami has sought to claim compensatory damages, legal fees as well as the removal of the “It’s Complicated” dance emote from Fortnite as he believes the gaming company profited from sales of the emote. Epic Games has yet to comment on the matter.
In 2018 several artists including Backpack Kid, Alfonso Ribeiro and 2 Milly launched legal action against the gaming company under similar circumstances. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the dances had to be registered under a copyright and fell under a category of “free speech”, therefore the cases were dismissed.
Mr Hecht told gaming publication Kotaku that Mr Hanagami felt strongly about this choreography and believes he should be compensated for his creative work.
“[Hanagami] felt compelled to file suit to stand up for the many choreographers whose work is similarly misappropriated,” he said.
“Copyright law protects choreography just as it does for other forms of artistic expression,
“Epic should respect that fact and pay to licence the artistic creations of others before selling them.”
Here is the link for a side-by-side comparison of both dances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXYDr9o_FJY