YouTube culture, whether creators dedicate their channels to memes, react videos or commentary, is reliant on fair use. That’s why the entire community is crying foul in wake of KSI’s management team issuing copyright strikes against anyone using short clips of his fight with Logan Paul for their own videos.
Creators who post react videos, commentary or short meme clips are being hit with copyright strikes from a content ID company hired to take down illegal streams or illegal uploads, Polygon has confirmed. This includes streamers who streamed the fight illegally on Twitch, which led to more than 1.2 million people streaming the fight for free, and YouTube creators using parts of the fight for their own videos.
“We employed the leading content ID company managing illegal take downs,” KSI’s manager, Liam Chivers, told Polygon via email. “They served DMCA notices against all illegal streams. We’re looking into the situation.”
Illegal streams are one thing. People streaming the entire fight on Twitch were called out by streamers and creators within the community for circumventing DMCA rules.
“Disappointed in Twitch today for not actively banning streamers rebroadcasting the #KSIvLogan fight,” Tom “Syndicate” Cassell tweeted. “They may have tried but to see that 1,000,000 we’re still watching it shows they didn’t try hard enough.”
“This shit was unacceptable,” Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson added. “Twitch, if you want to be a top streaming platform that is respected, shit like this can’t be happening. They knew this fight was happening and turned a blind eye.”
Most people in the community can agree that streaming a fight, one which KSI’s team invested a fair bit of money into along with sponsors, isn’t cool. They can also agree, however, that not allowing people to make commentary videos about the fight is equally upsetting.
Jesse Tyler Ridgway, who goes by McJuggerNuggets on YouTube and has more than 3.4 million subscribers, was forced to reupload a video reacting to Logan Paul and KSI’s fight. The original video included clips of the fight that Ridgway recorded off his television set, and were placed intermittently throughout the video.
“Latest video got blocked for ‘copyright,’” Ridgway tweeted, including the title card below on his re-upload.
Double Toasted, a popular channel that hosts nightly streaming shows, also received a copyright strike for their conversation about the fight. Much like Ridgway, the video included some footage of the fight spliced up intermittently with conversation and reaction to the event. A part of the video can be seen in Double Toasted’s original tweet below.
#LoganPaul VS #KSI a big scam? Probably. Check out Korey and Martin's reaction to the internet's biggest streaming event!— Double Toasted (@doubletoasted_) August 27, 2018
What do you think of the result?
LIKE, COMMENT, AND SHARE! pic.twitter.com/Oq9R6ayE6a
Creator James Ash ran into similar problems, adding in the same tweet thread that clips shorter than 30 seconds could still be dinged and it wasn’t worth taking the chance. Like Ridgway, he decided to do the entire react video without any fight footage.
“Having so many issues uploading the KSI vs Logan Paul fight,” Ash tweeted. “I’ve flipped the footage, muted commentary and played commentary! Got two copyright strikes and multiple issues to even upload. So settling for a reaction with zero footage of the fight not what I wanted but YouTube..!!”
Even memes aren’t safe. Dolan Dark, one of YouTube’s most popular memesters, tweeted about his own troubles following the main event.
“Main event ends in a draw and you can’t even make memes about the fight because they get blocked worldwide,” Dark said. “Shit event 0/10 would not watch again.”
Other popular creators like Boogie2988 have called out KSI and Logan Paul’s teams (in this case, the content ID company working to take down streams) for “going overboard.”
“Call off your dogs in this shit,” he tweeted. “They are going overboard now.”
Not all commentary videos are being taken down: Kavos, Philip DeFranco, Miniminter and other top creators have uploaded their own commentary, though their videos don’t include any footage from the fight. Each video only uses footage from KSI and Logan Paul’s testy weigh-in that occurred on Aug. 24, and photos from the event.
Again, Fair Use is difficult to navigate. Mona Ibrahim, a lawyer focusing on the video game industry, previously told Polygon, “There is no hard and fast rule on whether anything is fair use acceptance.” That often makes it difficult to fight when copyright strikes are applied.
YouTube has a set of guidelines it offers creators on its site to keep in mind when using copyrighted work to see if it might be protected under Fair Use. The four guidelines are:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes — the new video has to be “transformative”
- The nature of the copyrighted work — Whether the new video takes copyrighted work from fictional entertainment or real life events
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole — This determines whether the clip is short enough for Fair Use, or if it’s too gratuitous
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work — This examines whether or not it harms the original creator or their work
The most important guideline is typically the third. People can’t re-upload an entire fight, or even an entire round, but creators are arguing that if the clip is short enough, then it should exist under Fair Use laws.
“You can fight that,” YouTube creator Michael Green said in response to Ridgway’s situation. “It’s on the television in your living room while filming a video, there’s rights for that exact scenario lol.”
Being able to reference or use an original work in order to create something substantially different is key to most creators’ work. Copyright striking, unless absolutely necessary, is well-regarded among the YouTube community as a cardinal sin. When executed, not only do they hinder a creator’s AdSense, but collect enough and an entire YouTube channel can be deleted.
Allowing creators to use some footage to create new videos isn’t just widely accepted, it’s encouraged. Meme reviews offer social clout for funny videos; song covers collect millions of views; video game walkthroughs and Fortnite best-of recaps dominate YouTube; and commentary or react videos are specifically designed to incorporate the original material. Fair Use laws allow this to happen; but culturally, this type of shared content has become an unspoken, accepted aspect of YouTube culture. Creators own their own content, but that doesn’t mean other people can’t use it.
Everything comes down to Fair Use still being a vague area for copyright rules and YouTube creators. Technically, the production company does have a right to strike down any video that uses footage of the event. The bigger concern is how this affects YouTube creators, and their entire ecosystem, where an unspoken rule about anything being up for grabs as long as it’s handled with respect has progressed an entire culture.