As a blast from the past, Epic is facing a new Fortnite emote lawsuit

As a blast from the distant past of 2018, Epic Games is being sued by a Fortnite emotion. This time it’s the “It’s complicated” emote, which plaintiff Kyle Hanagami says is an unauthorized copy of the dance he choreographed for Charlie Puth’s 2017 song How Long.

Epic faced multiple lawsuits over Fortnite emotes in 2018-19, filed by 2 thousands, Afonso Ribeiroand orange shirt mother of child, among others. In general, they claimed that Epic ripped off distinctive dance moves for use in Fortnite without crediting or paying the people who actually created them. This new lawsuit says that the “outcry on social media” fueled by these earlier actions helped pressure Epic into making licensing deals with some, but not all, creators – and that Hanagami has not received an offer to use his work.

“Epic typically addresses younger and/or less sophisticated artists, such as those who are catapulted to fame on social media platforms like TikTok, about licensing choreography for pennies on the dollar,” the lawsuit states. “Hanagami, a sophisticated entrepreneur and established choreographer who is aware of the value of his choreography in general and Registered Choreography specifically, has never been approached by Epic about a license.”

Fortnite’s emote lawsuits came to a sudden halt in 2019 because of a US Supreme Court ruling that changed how copyright lawsuits can be filed. Previously, actions could be taken as soon as a copyright application was filed, but the 2019 ruling stated that lawsuits could only be brought after the Copyright Office has approved or rejected an application, a process that can sometimes take many months.

Lawyer David Hecht, who is representing Hanagami in the lawsuit, said that’s what makes this case different from previous lawsuits: The choreography copyright is copyrighted, and that makes it enforceable.

“Epic is cashing in on my client’s hard work, and their violation couldn’t be more egregious,” Hecht said in an email to PC Gamer. fundamentally unfair. He felt compelled to file a lawsuit to defend the many choreographers whose work is similarly misguided. Copyright law protects choreography in the same way it protects other forms of artistic expression. Epic must respect that fact and pay to license the artistic creations of others before selling them.”

Hecht, who represented 2 Milly in his 2018 lawsuit against Epic over the Swipe It emote, also created a video showing the similarities between How Long and the It’s Complicated emote.

There’s no denying that they’re virtually identical, but that doesn’t make the case a padlock. The It’s Complicated emote features only a small part of How Long’s choreography, for example, and also includes moves that aren’t part of Hanagami’s dance. And according to a 2021 report by dance magazinechoreography copyright is inherently difficult to enforce because there is so little precedent.

“What’s really missing, I think, is the amount of litigation required to fully understand what the elements of copyright infringement are for choreography,” attorney Gregory Desantis told the site. “There simply aren’t many cases on which to base litigation. In court, lawyers will base many of their arguments on the results of previous cases. Because dance has very few copyright cases, it’s difficult to take it to court.”

Hanagami is seeking an injunction against the use of his work in Fortnite, as well as damages and legal costs. I’ve reached out to Epic for comment and will update if I get a response.

Leave a Comment