“How long has this been going on?” sings pop star Charlie Puth on “How Long” — a track that dancer Kyle Hanagami choreographed a viral dance routine to in a YouTube video racking up over 38 million views.
The question posed by Puth in the song is precisely the one many choreographers are asking themselves when it comes to media companies seeking to commercialize dances without giving creators any cut or credit — after Kyle Hanagami’s lawsuit against Epic Games over the use of his dance was revived by a U.S. court last week.
The lawsuit covers a dispute over an avatar emote in “Fortnite” that allegedly ripped off part of Kyle Hanagami’s popular routine for “How Long.” If you take a look at the video below, you’ll see the similarities are… pretty striking.
In 2022, a lower court dismissed Kyle Hanagami’s lawsuit after ruling that the limited “poses” and the short nature of the moves that were copied for Fortnite were not enough to amount to an infringement. But, that analysis has now changed, and Hanagami’s legal battle with Epic Games will continue forward.
“Choreography has become the oft-maligned red-headed stepchild of copyright,” writes attorney and copyright expert Aaron Moss, who was one of the first to break the news about the revived lawsuit…