Epic Games Is Being Sued Over Another Fortnite Emote

Epic Games Is Being Sued Over Another Fortnite Emote
Images via Epic Games

Written by 

Tom Chapman


31st Mar 2022 11:56

Good job Fortnite makes a tonne of money because Epic Games is going to need deep pockets to deal with all these court cases. Yet again, the battle royale favourite is potentially going to be hauled in front of a judge, with accusations Fortnite has plagiarised someone else's dance.

The Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 2 Battle Pass lets us unlock the likes of Prowler and Doctor Strange, but as Fortnite continues to make you spend, we've heard about a Moon Knight skin and bet Obi-Wan Kenobi is also on the way. Emotes are another way to part with your money, but you might remember, the game is repeatedly called out with accusations of plagiarism.

Why Is Fortnite Being Sued?

When we're not jumping off the Battle Bus to try and score Victory Royales, we're splashing the cash and spending our V-Bucks in the shop on the game's unique creations. Is any idea an original idea anymore? According to YouTube choreographer Kyle Hanagami, Fortnite's "It's Complicated" emote is a copy of his dance moves. 

In 2017, Hanagami posted a dance to Charlie Puth's "How Long". The video has since pulled in 35.7 million views, and in a complaint filed to the Central District of California federal court, he claims Epic Games stole the "hook" of his dance by using it as the start of the "It's Complicated emote" without Hanagami’s consent. He's now seeking unspecified statutory and compensatory damages, and legal fees - saying Epic has made a profit off his moves.

Things get even more awkward when you head to Fandom's Fortnite wiki, which states "It's Complicated" is based on Hanagami's choreography. Although a wiki won't stand up in court, it's clear the comparisons have been made for a while. Hanagami joins a long line of names who've tried to sue Epic over Fortnite emotes, adding his name to a list alongside 2 Milly, Backpack Kid, and "Orange Shirt Kid". 


Has Fortnite Been In Trouble Before?

This wouldn't be Epic Games' first offence for this kind of thing, and at this point, emotes seem to be more trouble than they're worth. The most famous case is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Alfonso Ribeiro trying to sue over the "Fresh" emote. It was clearly a nod to the famous "Carlton Dance" from the '90s sitcom, but with Ribeiro himself simply being an actor and not the owner of the dance, it didn't go any further.

In 2018, the US Supreme Court forced law firm, Pierce Bainbridge, to withdraw several active cases. The difference here is that Hanagami actually owns the copyright to his dance. Then again, to make a valid claim, you need to be able to prove Fortnite has ripped off a substantial amount of the choreography instead of a few moves. It remains to be seen where this one goes next, but if we were Epic games, we'd be busting out some moves to try and stop this one in its tracks. 


Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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