Fortnite and Epic Games sued by choreographer over dance emote

Epic Games
Epic Games /

Fortnite and Epic Games are being sued by a choreographer over a dance move.

Fortnite is one of the biggest pop culture outlets out there. They’re a microcosm of all things in vogue and trendy. They tap partnerships with the biggest brands imaginable. The biggest musical acts like Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, and Billie Eilish are taking part in the game. The players who stream the game are among the most well-paid video game personalities out there.

To say that Fortnite has done itself some good by being at the center of anything pop culture would be an understatement, but being as big as they are, and being a part of the internet zeitgeist means that you’re going to eventually run afoul with some people.

Enter Kyle Hanagami, a choreographer who is suing Epic Games and Fortnite due to claims that he created the “It’s Complicated” dance emote in 2017. He may have a case for this too.

Hanagami has a video out that he shows that his dance from 2017 is a near-identical match to the Fortnite emote. The video garnered over 35 million views on YouTube since then, so it’s no doubt that someone at Fortnite eventually saw it.

Hanagami filed his complaint in the Central District of California federal court. He alleges that Epic Games and Fortnite stole the “hook section” of the dance.

Hanagami’s lawyer posted a video comparing the two dances. This leads us back to the lawsuit, which is asking Epic Games and Fortnite to take down the emote, and reward damages to Hanagami.

Fortnite may have a defense.

Now, let’s all agree that the moves are very similar. They are. yet, Alfonso Ribeiro tried suing Fortnite over the use of “The Carlton”, and he found out that you can’t copyright less complex dance routines.

This isn’t exactly a complex routine but it isn’t exactly not. Moreover, the standard of fair use is going to be in play here, more than likely, and Epic Games may have a case here as well. They could easily just claim that the dance emote, has different moves after the ones that Hanagami claims to have created.

If there are different moves following that portion of it, is it still the same dance? That’s what a court is going to have to decide, as the It’s Complicated dance emote is not just the moves that Hanagami can prove. There are a few more seconds after.

That’s going to be a key part of the suit.

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