The emote in question is the “It’s Complicated” dance, released back in 2020. Lawyers representing choreographer Kyle Hanagami said that the dance emote is infringing the choreographer’s copyright, as Hanagami created the dance routine back in 2017 for Charlie Puth’s track “How Long”. Hanagami is a professional choreographer and has worked with past artists such as Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Blackpink, just to name a few.
In a report by Kotaku, the lawsuit was filed in the Central District of California, where lawyers state that Epic Games did not credit Hanagami or seek his permission to use the emote in the game. Hanamagi’s legal team also requested a court order to remove the emote of Fortnite and are seeking legal fees and compensatory damages.
“[Epic Games] did not credit Hanagami nor seek his consent to use, display, reproduce, sell, or create a derivative work based on the Registered Choreography.”
Hanagami’s lawyer, David Hecht, spoke to PC Gamer about the lawsuit, saying that Epic Games is profiting from his client’s work and that the video game company should pay a license to artists to use their content before using them in their games.
“Epic is profiting from my client’s hard work, and their infringement could not be more blatant. Epic’s sale of Kyle’s registered choreography as an item in the Fortnite Item Shop without his knowledge or authorization is fundamentally unfair. He 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.”
This isn’t the first time that Epic Games has been caught in legal trouble over its dance emotes. Back in 2018, Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro, rapper 2Milly, and Russel Horning (aka: Backpack Kid) sued the company over the ‘Carlton Dance’, ‘Swipe it’, and ‘The Floss’ respectively. All three lawsuits were dismissed in 2019 after changes were made and the creators of the dance must register their moves with the Copyright Office.
Later in 2020, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple, requesting a court order for the tech giant to support third-party app stores and accusing it of seeking to monopolize the mobile games market.
We Got This Covered has reached out to Epic Games for comment.