YouTube Controversy: h3h3 Productions Channel Hit With A Strike And Top Video Removed After Fullscreen Claim [UPDATED]

UPDATED: 8/6/15 1:29 PM EST: George Strompolos, always the class act, has spoken with Ethan Klein and amicably resolved the situation (i.e. lifted the ban). You can read George’s thoughts on the matter here:

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Ethan Klein, the host and channel runner of the h3h3 productions YouTube vlogs, is friggin’ PISSED. Exploding across social media, he’s stirring up a new pot of anger than he usually does. Largely sidelining his trademark hacking (as in throat, not computer), Ethan has his ire pointed squarely at Fullscreen, the major MCN headed by George Strompolos.

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Releasing a new video that explains his frustration, it seems Fullscreen’s copyright claim against one of his videos has resulted in a temporary freeze upon his ability to monetize all his videos and a strike on his account. Three strikes and his channel will no longer be able to monetize at all. Loss of monetization for a mid-tier YouTube is a huge deal — potentially catastrophic.

Mid-tier YouTubers like Ethan wholly rely on their income from making YouTube videos and fan support. Without Adsense revenue coming in, one of Ethan’s revenue streams is crippled; this is the sort of thing that can cause bill payments to be missed, houses to be foreclosed on and YouTubers no longer being able to make a living entertaining you. So one might be able to understand why Ethan would be so upset.

 

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Allegedly, the video that has been removed revolved around negative commentary h3h3 productions was making in regards to “kissing prank” videos by fellow YouTuber PrankInvasion. Ethan claimed fair use of the footage that shows the Fullscreen-partnered channel host using trickery to kiss strangers.

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As Ethan explains it, the strike resulted from him challenging Fullscreen’s copyright claim. By Fullscreen issuing a claim on the copyright, automatically h3h3’s revenue from the video was deferred to Fullscreen. Ethan, who claims he worked for a week on that video, didn’t want the MCN to get his revenue so he countered the claim, meaning that YouTube would be put in a position to determine the actual owner of the overall video. Ultimately, instead of risking litigation or controversy, YouTube allegedly outright pulled the video offline. In doing so, h3h3 Productions was hit with a strike and his assets were temporarily frozen.

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I would ask YouTube their side of the story, but their policy is not to comment on ongoing issues, so no point. Major YouTubers however, like Boogie 2988, have now gotten involved, offering their own opinion on the situation. But despite the support, is what the h3h3 channel doing fair use? YouTube’s own explanation on the matter, from their site guidelines, is murky at best, stating that you should consult an attorney on the matter.

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Consider George’s response up above in the update to be Fullscreen’s official stance on the story.

As a lesson though, creators, if you’re uncertain whether or not you are violating someone else’s copyright and your livelihood depends on the matter, be aware that the same thing could happen to you. Especially if you are being negative or disparaging of the material in question.

Share this to spread the warning that “fair use” is not an ironclad proposition.