Epic Games sued by YouTube choreographer for “stolen” Fortnite emote

Dave Deiley
Dancer and in game character side by side showing the similarities in moves.

Epic Games have been sued by choreographer Kyle Hanagami over a Fortnite emote. Hanagami copyrighted the dance used for the “It’s Complicated” emote, and believes the mega developer is infringing on it.

Another day, another maker trying to bring Epic Games to account for taking their dance moves. LA-based Kyle Hanagami is not the first choreographer to accuse Epic Games of stealing their moves, but he is the latest.

Hanagami, who went out to copyright a specific dance used in a 2017 dance class, believes Epic has infringed on that right.

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The class, uploaded to YouTube, features a repeated movement hook during the chorus of Charlie Puth’s “How Long”.

Hanagami claims it bears an almost exact similarity to the moves used in the “It’s Complicated” emote in Fortnite.

IMages superImages super imposed of the dancer and the real-life dancer show just how closely the moves match.

The video that the dance was taken from has been viewed more than 35 million times since it’s release, and is even referenced as inspiration for the emote on Fornite’s unoffical wiki.

“The dance is partially based off of choreography by Kyle Hanagami for Charlie Puth’s song “How Long”.

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A follow up video has been uploaded by Hecht Partners, Kyle’s lawyers in this case, potentially as use for evidence in the copyright claim.

The follow up video, titled “Fortnite Infringement of Kyle Hanagami Choreography” focus on the extreme similarity’s between the two dances. It included superimposed images of the emote and the section of dance in question.

After watching the video it’s hard not to see that the two movements are strikingly close. But both pieces continue on after the disputed movements in different manners, and at this stage copyrights for movement are a murky undiscovered territory.

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Back in 2018, a series of lawsuits on this exact topic were thrown out by the Supreme Court citing the idea that the entirety of a dance piece must be copied for it to infringe upon copyright.

If Kyle Hanagami and his team win the case it’ll be a world first, with the team behind Fortnite potentially having to radically change the way they go about creating new emotes.

At the moment though, the Hanagami’s lawyers are only requesting a court order to prevent the “It’s Complicated” emote from being used in game, legal fees and unspecified damages.

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About The Author

Dave is a former Dexerto writer. They nurtured a deep love for games ever since someone convinced them that holding down A increases the chances of your Pokeball working. They're Sekiro's slowest speedrunner and will happily lose to you in any multiplayer game. You can contact Dave at dave.deiley@dexerto.com