KYLE HANAGAMI SUES EPIC GAMES

Updated: Jun 22

Fortnite faces lawsuits from choreographer as they used copyrighted dance moves for an emote.



Kyle Hanagami filed a complaint against Epic Games this week, accusing the company of stealing a portion of his copyrighted dance routine for Charlie Puth's song "How Long." Hanagami, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, NSYNC, and BlackPink, first performed the performance in a YouTube video in 2017.

The Supreme Court ruled that copyright infringement claimants could no longer file lawsuits immediately after completing copyright registration forms. Instead, they would have to wait until their application was evaluated and authorized by the United States Copyright Office.

All five lawsuits were effectively dismissed as a result of that one judgement, and the "hey Epic, stop (supposedly) stealing our dances for your emotes" front has been fairly quiet since then.

Kyle Hanagami filed a complaint against Epic Games this week, accusing the company of stealing a portion of his copyrighted dance routine for Charlie Puth's song "How Long." Hanagami, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, NSYNC, and BlackPink, first performed the performance in a YouTube video in 2017.

Three years later, Fortnite released an emote called "It's Complicated" that is nearly identical to Hanagami's choreography's four-second set of steps.

Hanagami's lawyer included a side-by-side comparison in the lawsuit, demonstrating how similar the movements are, limb by limb.

Epic Games "did not credit Hanagami nor obtain his permission to use, display, copy, sell, or create a derivative work based on the Registered Choreography," according to the lawsuit.

The "It's Complicated" emote costs 500 V-Bucks (Fortnite's in-game currency), which equates to about $5 USD.

Hanagami "was obligated to file suit to speak up for the many choreographers whose work is equally hijacked," according to Hanagami's lawyer, David Hecht.

"Epic should respect that fact and pay to license the artistic creations of others before selling them," he said, adding that copyright law "protects choreography just as it does for other kinds of artistic expression."

Hanagami's lawsuit requests that the court order Fortnite to cease selling the emote and award him unspecified monetary compensation as well as legal fees.





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