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YouTubers are circling the wagons and helping a prominent comedy channel fund itself in a copyright fight.
YouTube channel H3H3Productions announced May 24 that fellow YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh (aka Bold Guy) brought a copyright strike against it for a video made about him, and he’s subsequently sued H3H3Productions in a case that its creators say will take two years and at least $100,000 to fight.
“It’s been hanging over our lives like a cloud these past months,” said H3H3 cofounder Ethan Klein in the video. The video that’s the subject of the Hosseinzadeh suit is a reaction clip on the second channel of H3H3 co-founders Ethan and Hila.
Ethan and Hila have been active in the copyright space on YouTube. They’ve lashed out at other YouTubers who they’ve felt have infringed upon fellow creator copyrights. One example is SoFloAntonio, who the channel rallied against earlier this year.
Now that Ethan and Hila are facing their own legal issues, the YouTube community has rallied around the channel, led by Philip DeFranco.
Ethan responded on Twitter with thanks and a promise to set up a legal defense fund so other creators who are the target of copyright cases have a chance to protect themselves.
Overwhelmed by this support. We are working with our attorneys to set up a fair use defense fund,so no one gets bullied like this ever again
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) May 25, 2016
They are part of FUPA, the Fair Use Protection Account, a self-started legal defense aimed at “keeping the Internet free of copyright trolls.”
Overall, the intertwining of fair use and YouTube has been a hot topic lately, with creators calling foul on those who use YouTube’s strike system to cripple accounts, while the RIAA has called out YouTube for not being strict enough in its interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect the rights of non-YouTube creators, like traditional musicians.
YouTube has changed policies in response to creator outcry. It’s also supporting select channels in copyright cases where the website views those cases as clear examples of fair use. But there’s more copyright strikes than YouTube can support, and that’s where the community, led by DeFranco, comes in.
“This is a much bigger deal than H3H3Productions, this is about fair use in general,” said DeFranco in his video.
“A YouTube channel should not get taken down by someone who does not like jokes about them,” said DeFranco. “If we are a community here on YouTube and not just a smorgasbord of random channels that are one-offs trying to get views, we will stand with Ethan. I just can’t let stuff like this go down on our watch.”
A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.