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Fortnite sued over old dance emote

A choreographer is suing Epic Games over dance moves included in an old Fortnite emote.

Kyle Hanagami, a choreographer who has worked with Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and J-Lo, filed suit against Epic regarding the “It’s Complicated” emote, which was released within Fortnite back in August 2020.

Lawyers for Hanagami have said the emote uses copyrighted dance moves from a 2017 video set to Charlie Puth’s “How Long” (thanks, Kotaku) without credit or compensation.

The moves in question appear at the beginning of the It’s Complicated emote’s dance routine, although the emote then continues on after.

Hanagami’s lawyers have posted a convincing comparison of the emote’s introduction:

Here’s the full emote:

Hanagami’s lawsuit seeks the emote’s removal from the game and compensation from any Fortnite profits incurred in its sale.

This is the first Fortnite dance lawsuit in several years, following a spate of claims back in 2018. Then, rapper 2 Milly and Carlton AKA The Fresh Prince’s Alfonso Ribeiro said Fortnite (and other games) had used their dance moves without permission. Neither claim was successful, due to how US copyright law handles individual dance moves.

In the years since, and as it has grown into the pop culture behemoth it is today, Fortnite has begun notably crediting and collaborating on licensed emotes, skins and concerts featuring an array of popstars, DJs and TikTok stars. The game now includes emotes from Gangnam Style to Rick Astley, as part of its licensed “Icon” series.

According to Fortnite’s fan wiki, the It’s Complicated emote appeared regularly in the game’s shop until August 2021 – but then hasn’t appeared since.

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