h3h3Productions Sued for Reaction Video in Unprecedented Abuse of YouTube Fair Use
Popular YouTube channel h3h3Productions are being sued for a reaction video they uploaded to their channel, in what is yet another example of YouTube’s Fair Use policies being openly abused by third-parties.
Ethan and Hila Klein, who run the h3h3Productions channel along with another channel titled Ethan & Hila, are known on YouTube for producing videos in which they poke fun at other video-makers on the site. However, after posting their reaction to a video created by Matt Hosseinzadeh on his channel Matt Hoss Zone, Ethan and Hila revealed that Matt had filed a lawsuit against them, essentially as a result of them making fun of him. If Matt is successful in the upcoming court trial, this could prove to have a hugely negative impact on the video-sharing site, effectively opening the doors to similar lawsuits that could have a demonstrable impact upon other video makers.
Ethan and Hila discuss the lawsuit in a video, explaining how Matt had previously offered them the options to either settle out of court for a sum of $3,750 or post a video apology in which they also promoted the channel, but the pair declined this offer as a result of the dangers it could present to other YouTubers in the future. ” Matt is now pressing ahead with the lawsuit, with Ethan and Hila stating that if he is successful in the trial, they stand to lose their channel and, as a result, their livelihoods.
While Ethan and Hila’s videos are covered under Fair Use, which allows a video maker to produce content which includes footage of another creator’s video if they do so for a “transformative” purpose, such as commenting upon the footage, criticizing it or parodying it, Fair Use is only a legal defense and, as the pair note, if they find themselves faced with a jury not familiar with YouTube then this could prove to be problematic during their trial. They also claim that even after setting their reaction video to private, Matt still filed a copyright takedown notice on it, which has left a strike on the Ethan & Hila channel that will remain for 6 months. YouTube’s policies in regards to receiving these strikes ensures that the pair will now be prevented from accessing certain features on the site, and if a channel receives three strikes then their entire account is terminated.
Ethan said that they had contacted YouTube’s owners Google in regards to the strike, informing them that they were going to court to “protect 50 percent of [the site’s] users,” but were informed that the company couldn’t do anything to help them. “Anyone who gets a copyright strike, regardless of the situations, gets treated like a criminal,” Ethan added.
In terms of the lawsuit, Matt has claimed that Ethan and Hila “discuss the Work in what they believe to be a humorous manner but in fact reproduces virtually all of the Work as nothing more than a prop in the Defendants’ ‘comedy routine,'” adding that Ethan and Hila used a thumbnail from the original video in order to “confuse viewers” into thinking that they were clicking on a link to Matt’s video, and that the couple have “unfairly derived profit” from his video. Considering that this is the basis of all reaction videos, which currently make up a large portion of YouTube’s most popular content, a victory for Matt could spell trouble for other content creators on the site in the future.
Take a look at h3h3Productions’ video regarding the lawsuit below: