Good news to US youtubers who rely on fair use
Last year, Youtubers Ethan and Hila Klein (h3h3Productions) found out they had been sued by another Youtuber, Matt Hosseinzadeh, for using one of his videos on their channel for a video reaction. In the reaction video, which they have re-uploaded to their channel now, they made fun of Hosseinzadeh. His response was suing them for three different charges: copyright infringement, misrepresentation, and defamation.
Thanks to their fans’ support, and particularly to Philip De Franco, h3h3 raised over 170.00 to take this case until the end. Philip DeFranco warned that, if Ethan and Hila lost this lawsuit, that could set a terrible precedent for other Youtubers. When users of the platform realized that this issue affected them too, they decided to help and turned it into a long legal battle to change YouTube, at least in the US.
Because on the other hand, if they won, that would set a precedent to protect other Youtubers in similar situations. They’d have a strong claim against “bullies” who use copyright as an excuse to take down content they don’t like.
The story has a happy ending: New York District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled the defendants were in the right and denied Hosseinzadeh’s motion.
What this means for video reactions
First of all, this legal victory doesn’t mean that all video reactions on Youtube are safe from copyright infringement claims. The judge emphasised this in her verdict, pointing out that while some videos combine their own material with the original, others simply show a compilation of clips without contributing with any original comments or content.
Unlike the latter, h3h3Productions’s video had a strong claim for several reasons. One of them is that their video is not a substitute for the original. It’s something else.
There are as many possible types of videos, reviews, tributes, and reactions as there are Youtubers. Therefore, there is still room for debate and legal battles.
But this particular case has succeeded in setting a strong precedent for other Youtubers who produce the same kind of reaction videos. This is a huge deal because, as you know, this format is one of the most successful ones in the platform. Youtubers whose videos are similar to this can feel safer now, knowing that they legally own their content.