Last year, Ethan and Hila Klein from h3h3Productions shocked the YouTube community by announcing that they, of all people, were being sued for copyright infringement and misuse of fair use. Whilst they were later offered a settlement, the two decided to fight the case in court to prove that it’s unfair to attack creators on the basis of fair use… and they’ve now spent a literal fortune standing up for what they believe is right.
In May 2016, YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh (or MattHossZone) was targeted in a video on h3h3’s second channel. Even though it seems that no one knows the in’s and out’s of YouTube’s Fair Use Policy better than Ethan and Hila, they were sued by Matt for copyright infringement and found themselves shelling out large amounts of money to cover their legal fees. (for more information about what “Fair Use” is, see the bottom of this article)
In the video below, Ethan reveals that in December 2016 they paid a small fortune of $50,000 in just one month for their attorney.
Thankfully, fellow YouTuber Phillip DeFranco set up a GoFundMe last year to support h3h3Productions during their trial and it has raised over $170,000 thanks to the YouTube community and creators such as Markiplier and PewDiePie. If it wasn’t for their involvement last year, the couple said they have no idea if they would have been able to defend themselves in court against such a petty lawsuit.
Ethan goes on to explain that they were lucky enough to have the support of the community in addition to their own money, but had this lawsuit happened to a smaller creator they wouldn’t have stood an equal chance: “Those with money in the legal system have the ability to destroy and bully and defeat people on the grounds of ‘I have more money’, and you never have a chance to defend yourself. It’s obscene”.
He also makes it clear that 2017 “has been the most miserable of [his] life so far”, immediately followed by the heart-breaking shot of Hila bursting into tears – something which their fanbase found hugely upsetting in itself.
In the tweet below, Ethan shares a clearer image of their legal bills – and how they were charged over $50,000 for their attorney in December 2016 alone.
But what do YOU think – should Ethan and Hila continue to pay a fortune of their own money to support their cause, or does the community need to rally together one more time? Let us know in the comments below.
FAIR USE: ‘Fair Use’ is a legal concept that states (in brief) that you are generally allowed to use and publish someone else’s copyrighted material, provided that are doing so for the purpose of creating something new (for example a commentary, criticism or parody of said material). As long as you do something to transform the video, you’re generally okay. This is why it’s okay to use movie footage in a movie review, but not okay to simply post the whole dang movie online.