In a recently filed suit involving the popular videogame Fortnite, the Central District of California faces an important question regarding copyright law: does a copyright in a registered choreographic work extend protection to a smaller portion of the work when that portion is copied by a third party and implemented as a dance move in a video game? Owned and developed by Epic Games, Inc. (“Epic”), Fortnite is a “battle royale” style videogame where players fight to be the last person standing. Fortnite players can purchase “emotes,” which are dance moves or other gestures performed by their avatar. Plaintiff Kyle Hanagami owns a copyright registration for a choreographic work called “How Long Choreography.” Hanagami alleges that an emote called “It’s Complicated” copies “the heart” of his work, as it is the only section of the How Long Choreography that occurs ten times throughout the original.
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