YouTubers face their meme reaction channel being closed over $6000 copyright fees

Dakota Tebaldi

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MxR Plays is a YouTube channel which often involves 'reaction videos' - where people film themselves reacting to anything from memes to movie trailers.
I'm really struggling to summon sympathy, because this kind of content, "reaction videos", really is the lowest of low-effort content. Literally it's just a repost of somebody else's video, alongside the facial expressions of somebody who's watching it. It's even hard to claim "fair use" because unlike, say, a movie review which only shows selected clips from a movie, these reaction videos will show literally the entire video they're "reacting" to, from end to end.

I think it would be less of a problem if the videos weren't monetized. YouTube's monetization scheme is one of the worst things on the whole internet.
 

Kara Spengler

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Just keep in mind ... post-millennials actually consume those crazy media.
The whole idea of playing a vid in a window just seems like asking for it. There is no reason why they could say they are starting the vid and their viewers could start it also if they want. While the reactions when seeing things seems pointless to me the good ones spend several minutes talking about it after. Okay, it is not cinemawins or movies with mikey but it is sort of a review.
 

EmpressOfCommunism

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Recently through a bout of illness and general bad luck I discovered that there's a whole bunch of people of the right age group that have simply never seen Jimi Hendrix before. My parents were hippies met in commune so he was just 'background noise' growing up that was a sturdy, eternally dead so eternally young figure of childhood. Well, not everyone had that I guess. I was fortunate.

So, this group of people with the right age to have heard of Jimi Hendrix but never have, they're staring to all make youtube videos of them watching particular Jimi Hendrix live performances request. Why? Because universally none of them expect Jimi Hendrix to start playing guitar with: his mouth, his elbow, the top of his head, his foot, or behind his back. They definitely don't expect someone to light the guitar on fire and toss smoldering smoking pieces of it into the crowd of adoring fans. It was emotionally gratifying to see the shock and awe of some of these people's faces.

if you've seen a beloved piece of media (song, movie, etc) enough times you become complacent. You forget what makes it good, you forget why you liked it in the first place. Watching someone else see that for the first time makes remember that damn Jimi really is the great one. That seeing someone play guitar upside down and backwards better then anyone right side up is really a big fucking deal.

There are a lot of people out there who have either exhausted the amount of friends they could show old songs or movies to, or simply never had enough in the first place to do this. It has become a social hole to fill and in this way reminds me of the ASMR youtube phenomenon. So, I don't think its quite correct to say that its all bad or stupid. Of course, Sturgeons law applies to the genre like anything else, but there are perfectly good reasons to participate in this and I hope the fine doesn't affect anyone's ability to expose young people to different, older forms of media and genres of music.

Maybe I've just stumbled onto a wholesome corner of it? Who knows.
 
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I love how they spent lots of time looking to see who owned content but instead of getting permission before using said content, it sounds as if they just avoided stuff owned by someone who might pursue them. As they're now finding out, that was a really stupid thing to do if you're not rich. Sometimes you can't get permission, but in that situation you leave it well alone. Especially for Youtube.

Sometimes I wonder what century we'll get to before people see someone else's work and automatically drop them a message to ask before using it :D
 

Innula Zenovka

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I found the comments of the US copyright lawyer particularly interesting.

Briefly, the question of whether the use to which the YouTubers have put the clips for which the copyright holder wants the licence fee constitute "fair use" (which would mean no fee is payable) is right up in the air, and would be for a judge or jury to decide as a question of fact after hearing detailed arguments and analyses from both sides' lawyers, and he considers it very much an edge case.

Looked at from one angle, the copyright holders' offer to accept $6000 to make the issue go away looks like a bargain -- it's far less than an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the case in court would cost, even assuming the YouTubers had the financial means to defend the case in the first place.

Looked at from another angle, though, the fee for simply reproducing the clips apparently looks completely disproportionate, at least to the lawyer, but the copyright holders have the YouTubers over a barrel since YouTube's rules mean that the copyright holders can, if they choose, shut down the YouTubers' channel for good and thus deprive them of their livelihood with no appeal.

I guess the moral is, since this sort of channel is parasitic upon the work of people who make the memes in the first place, anyone seeking to use anyone else's copyright material to make money for themselves needs to talk to the copyright holders in order to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement before, rather than after, they upload their derivative work to YouTube.

ETA: What Ailsa said , far more clearly and succinctly than have I, while I was writing this.
 

Imnotgoing Sideways

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I used to watch the guy before his face reveal on his MxR Mods channel... Where he reviewed Skyrim mods with a bit of a fan-service-y angle. Plus his modded playthrough with that mushroom follower... Can't remember the name he gave it. (>_<)

Anyway... Jukin Media, the company doing the suing, has made a career in monetizing memes as some form of "viral video licensing". So, feel free to criticize MxR for his use of clips in reaction videos. But don't lose sight that they're being targeted by a corporation which "buys" memes and viral videos in order to effectively extort anyone continuing to treat a meme as a meme. 'Nice meme you got there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it!'

Regardless of how sub-par you think their content is. When referring to them as parasitic, Jukin Media is far more so. Jukin has created nothing. They have become the scummy 'house flippers' of iPhone videos and cringey demotivator posters. If Jukin had their way, half the memes on THIS forum would probably violate the copyrights they have directly monetized and would be subject to legal action... But, for a few $K, they'll gladly settle out. (-_-)

Long story, short; Fair Use law is a hugely grey area and Jukin Media is milking all financial loopholes possible. It's a long watch, but Lawful Masses has a fair take on it.

[EDIT] :: To expand on why I put "buys" in quotes. They have made claims in the past on content they didn't own and depended on settling out to avoid further investigation. If they had actually gone to trial on many of their claims, they'd have gone under years ago.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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When referring to them as parasitic, Jukin Media is far more so. Jukin has created nothing.
No, whatever you think of Jukin Media, their behaviour is symbiotic rather than parasitic, in that, while they depend upon the creators of memes, they give the creator a free choice of whether or not to allow them to use the creator's IP, and give the creator an agreed fee in return.

If, in order to make money for themselves, people use content created by others without first asking their permission, then they have only themselves to blame if unpleasant consequences for them ensue, at least to my mind.
 

Imnotgoing Sideways

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No, whatever you think of Jukin Media, their behaviour is symbiotic rather than parasitic, in that, while they depend upon the creators of memes, they give the creator a free choice of whether or not to allow them to use the creator's IP, and give the creator an agreed fee in return.

If, in order to make money for themselves, people use content created by others without first asking their permission, then they have only themselves to blame if unpleasant consequences for them ensue, at least to my mind.
You're half-right. The other half is that hey tend to have nothing to do with the creators of any content they've attacked. They don't have to be symbiotic nor parasitic to be exploitative. At best, they're collecting settlements via fear tactics. At worst, they're abusing the DMCA and its lack of necessary investigative requirements to line their pockets over false pretense.

To date, the only time they've gone to trial, they opted to reduce settlement to dodge and seal the ruling of that case's jury.

Fair use doesn't require permission. It implies a lack of damage to the source material. Imagine asking permission from a corrupt corporation in order to expose the nature of their alleged crimes. Or being forced to settle out of a dispute with Starbucks because their storefront and sign takes up 1/4th of a photo placed on a blog.

The videos in the claims mostly contain clips presented for commentary. Unprofessional critique, at worst. They aren't just plastering full-length videos back-to-back to milk iFame. Their Youtube views come from their chemistry and banter in reaction to the stuff they find on Reddit. Personally, they are indirectly playing the role of 'funny friends' for people who have no friends yet like memes.

You don't have to like fair use. It's just necessary.

**Why I seem subjectively familiar with their actions: They've targeted a number of lesser known channels I follow which annoyed me enough to dig into them.
 
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Imnotgoing Sideways

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Now that I've had time to sit down and read my feeds, Jukin is starting to ball up. Previous "clients" of theirs have made statements regarding 'shady business practices'. Claiming refusals to pay out to creators (sort of a known issue already) and predatory marketing. A prime example being their approach to a guy who posted a video of his corgi via Twitter. Of course, they're now deleting evidence of their contact. Their CEO has deleted his Twitter account. There are rumors of them already attempting to re-brand.

Said Corgi. =^-^=

EDIT: Adorable Corgi! XD
 

Innula Zenovka

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You don't have to like fair use. It's just necessary.
Yes, but the question is, was this fair use? According to the copyright lawyer quoted by the BBC (and he's very critical of Jukin Media's behaviour),
Leonard J. French is a copyright lawyer based in the United States who is also a YouTuber with more than 100,000 subscribers.

He told the BBC that the question being brought up by commenters online is whether the YouTubers should pay at all - or if their video falls under the legal principle known as fair use.

"It's very possible that MxR Plays are not making a fair use," he said. "But I and my fellow attorneys don't actually know how a judge or jury would find if this went to a trial because fair use is such an in-depth analysis.

"It's right on the line. Did this channel make enough additional commentary or criticism to overcome the hurdles to fair use, or did they just republish the original material without adding enough transformative content to make it a new material?

"That's the difference between no damages and massive damages with nothing in between."

I would say that someone who is relying on "fair use" in order to make a video is simply asking for trouble if he doesn't take professional advice before uploading it, particularly if -- for no good reason I can see -- he's not had the courtesy or good sense to seek to establish the copyright holder's views on the matter before publishing the derivative work.

OK. MrX Plays say it's fair use and Jukin Media disagree. The only way we will know who is right is if a court decides.

MrX Plays must have been aware of that, and of the costs and risks of defending the case in court, just as they must have been aware that YouTube's policy means that, unfair as it may seem, Jukin Media or any other aggrieved IP holder can shut them down at will. The news that YouTube will automatically close them down for repeated complaints -- well founded or not -- of copyright theft can't have come as any surprise to them, since they'd already had the first of their three chances.

They took a chance, played with fire, and got burned. I find it really difficult to have much sympathy for them.

Welcome to the real world.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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I understand there is plenty not to like about outfits like this. They make money by buying out viral videos and then suing reposters. But then, channels like this make money by ganking viral videos and reposting them - and come on, that's really all it is; how much meaningful "commentary and analysis" can you add to a video of a cat sticking out its tongue?

But this is why I say it's all YouTube's fault for making their boneheaded ad-sharing system in the first place. "Ad money" is the reason why the original creators of a stupid "funny animal" video that happens to go viral suddenly begin to care so much about protecting it as property; it's the reason people want to steal the videos and make their own ad money off of them, and it's the reason companies like Jukin want to buy the rights to them.
 
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Because some people use their car for criminal activities, doesn't make the car industry boneheaded.
Same goes for YouTube.
People who use Youtube to upload content and try to make a dollar or two out of it, are responsible for the copyrights of that content. Not YouTube.
 

Imnotgoing Sideways

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They took a chance, played with fire, and got burned. I find it really difficult to have much sympathy for them.

Welcome to the real world.
They didn't get burned.

MxR is now clean and clear.
Jukin has silently proven that they're still to afraid to ACTUALLY go to court.
If anything, Jukin gets nothing more than negative press.
And they're are already attempting to redirect their bluff by targeting Pewdiepie and TyroneMagnus.

While speaking of the real world. You seem comfortable with the idea a corporate entity can legally silence critique and dissent... Where I come from, individuals have rights.
copyright.gov said:
Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
Welcome to the United States of America.
 
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Kamilah Hauptmann

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They didn't get burned.

MxR is now clean and clear.
Jukin has silently proven that they're still to afraid to ACTUALLY go to court.
If anything, Jukin gets nothing more than negative press.
And they're are already attempting to redirect their bluff by targeting Pewdiepie and TyroneMagnus.

While speaking of the real world. You seem comfortable with the idea a corporate entity can legally silence critique and dissent... Where I come from, individuals have rights.

Welcome to the United States of America.