H3H3 Productions win fair use lawsuit and call it “huge victory” for YouTubers

H3H3Productions lawsuit

A judge has ruled in favour of popular YouTube channel H3H3 productions, who had been accused by a rival YouTuber of infringing copyright by using one of his clips in a video.

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H3H3’s husband-and-wife team Ethan and Hila Klein defended their use of Matthew Hosseinzadeh’s (aka Matt Hoss) footage as fair use – a legal principle that protects use of copyrighted material for such purposes as commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, and research. Before the current monetisation crisis, false or dodgy DMCA claims were the number one issue facing YouTubers, particularly those making comedy content.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled with the Kleins, saying:

“Any review of the Klein video leaves no doubt that it constitutes critical commentary of the Hoss video; there is also no doubt that the Klein video is decidedly not a market substitute for the Hoss video. For these and the other reasons set forth below, defendants’ use of clips from the Hoss video constitutes fair use as a matter of law.”

They’re rather pleased with themselves, as you can see above and below:

You may be wondering what this has to do with gaming. The vast majority of gaming YouTubers – including PCGamesN – use footage from third parties in their videos, often to illustrate commentary, but sometimes to make analytical points about specific moments in gameplay. Had Hosseinzadeh won, it would’ve set a precedent that would’ve made it easier for rights-holders to strike those videos, lowering the quality and variety of gaming content on YouTube. Bad news if you enjoy watching critical Let’s Plays.