The proprietors of h3h3productions, a popular comedy and reaction channel, announced yesterday that they are being sued for copyright infringement by YouTube sketch artist Matt Hosseinzadeh in a suit they believe has ulterior motives. And while Hila and Ethan Klein say litigation could drag on for two years and that it could cost them as much as $100,000 to defend themselves, they ultimately decided not to host a crowdfunding campaign to fund the legal bill.
“Honestly, you guys have supported us monetarily and emotionally for so long,” Ethan said in the video announcement. “We can’t ask you guys for more money. All we can say is thank you so much for all of the love and support you guys have given us.”
And so one of YouTube’s most prominent creators and commentators, Philip DeFranco, took it upon himself to create a GoFundMe page on the embattled couple’s behalf. “In my and many others’ opinion, this is an attempt to step on freedom of speech via a broken copyright system and most people’s confusion over fair use,” DeFranco wrote on the page. “[Hila and Ethan] did not ask for viewers to support their defense fund with money, but this situation is bigger than them.”
In just 21 hours, the campaign has already raised the $100,000 that the Kleins say they need to defend themselves — from a total of more than 4,000 donors. And several of YouTube’s most prominent stars have contributed with big-ticket donations. In addition to Minecraft creator Markus Persson’s $8,179, DeFranco pledged $5,000, Markiplier pledged $4,000, Michael Green and Keemstar each pledged $2,500, and PewDiePie and JackSepticEye both pledged $2,000.
“Overwhelmed by this support,” Ethan tweeted in response to the community’s rallying call. “We are working with our attorneys to set up a fair use defense fund, so no one gets bullied like this ever again.”
DeFranco made a video about the “insane” lawsuit and expressing his gratitude to Hila and Ethan for fighting against a potentially dangerous precedent — especially in light of a recent ruling against the YouTuber Ray William Johnson. “If we are a community here on YouTube, and not just a smorgasbord of random channels that are one-offs trying to get views, we will stand with [h3h3productions].” Check it out below: