Fortnite dance lawsuit

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The Fortnite dance lawsuit refers to a series of legal battles involving Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game Fortnite, and various individuals who claim that the game has used their copyrighted dance moves without permission. One of the most notable cases involves professional choreographer Kyle Hanagami, who filed a lawsuit against Epic Games alleging copyright infringement. Hanagami claimed that the company used his dance moves for a Fortnite emote, specifically the "It's Complicated" emote, without his consent or giving him credit234. Hanagami's choreography, which he posted on YouTube in 2017 to Charlie Puth's song "How Long", was allegedly replicated in the "It's Complicated" emote that Fortnite launched in August 2020234. Hanagami's lawyers even provided a side-by-side comparison of the original choreography and the Fortnite emote, showing the nearly identical choreography2. Hanagami's choreography was copyrighted, which sets his case apart from previous lawsuits against Epic Games5. Initially, the lawsuit was dismissed by a district judge in the United States, Stephen Wilson, in August 2022. The judge stated that the two works did not share enough "creative elements" to be considered and that Epic Games resorted to plagiarism35. The court argued that individual poses within a stretch of choreography are not protected by copyright45. However, in November 2023, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's decision, renewing the legal battle. The appeals court judges wrote that even if individual elements of a dance can’t be copyrighted, the arrangement can. They also found that choreography can involve other elements like timing, use of space, and even the energy of the performance146. The case is now going back to the district court for further assessment146. Epic Games has faced similar lawsuits in the past. Multiple artists, including Instagrammer Backpack Kid, Alfonso Ribeiro, and rapper 2Milly, sued the company in 2018. These lawsuits were eventually dismissed following a 2019 Supreme Court decision, which ruled that copyright infringement lawsuits must wait until the copyright is registered before moving forward24.
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