Makers Of Payday 2 Donating DLC Profits To Help 2 YouTubers Fight Copyright Lawsuit

from the good-guys dept

The landscape of YouTubers who do reviews or takes on video games, including Let's Plays, and their interactions with the game makers themselves is one that lacks any sort of norm or uniformity. Some game developers understand the value these YouTubers bring to their businesses, while some tend to go on the attack with copyright claims. Some developers appreciate an open and honest ecosystem of reviews, including snarky reviews, while others attempt to suppress any sort of negativity.

But, as far as I'm aware of, Overkill Software, makers of Payday 2, is the first studio to donate proceeds from its DLC content to defend YouTubers from copyright lawsuits.

Ethan [Klein] and Hila [Klein], who run the YouTube channel H3H3Productions, make sketch comedy and “reaction” videos in which they comment on internet and YouTube culture. Last year, the husband-wife team filmed a video mocking YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh, or “Bold Guy,” for his video about picking up girls using parkour. In response, Hosseinzadeh filed a complaint with the Southern District of New York District Court alleging copyright infringement. In the complaint, Hosseinzadeh accuses the Kleins of “purporting to discuss the Work in what they believe to be a humorous manner but in fact reproduces virtually all of the Work as nothing more than a prop.”

Now, we've discussed this lawsuit previously. It's a suit clearly designed to shut up two critics who engaged in what seems to be pretty straightforward Fair Use of Hosseinzadeh's content. Following along with the court proceedings, the last entry seems to indicate the court feels this whole thing, which has already gone on too long, will end with a summary judgement. I can't be certain the court feels that this is going to end up going in the Kleins' favor, but that would be my educated guess based on our previous analysis of the suit.

Regardless, Overkill Software has swooped in to try and help the Kleins by baking them into Payday 2 via DLC and using any money made by it to fund the Kleins' legal efforts.

On April Fools, Overkill Software introduced Ethan Klein into first-person shooter Payday 2. Yesterday, Overkill, who are fans of the Kleins, announced they’ll be making the joke a permanent, and charitable, reality. This Fall, the faces behind H3H3Productions will be playable characters in Payday 2, and Overkill studios will donate all of the DLC’s revenue to the Kleins as they continue to fight their legal battle that, they say, could financially ruin them even if they win.

While the Kleins were initially represented pro bono, a year later, after switching firms, the price of fighting the lawsuit has reportedly snowballed, with the first month allegedly costing over $50,000. And they will continue to fight it, the Kleins say, to protect fair use and prevent a bad precedent. (YouTube personality Philip DeFranco helped raise $170,000 for them in a GoFundMe, arguing that the lawsuit is “an attempt to step on freedom of speech via a broken copyright system and most people’s confusion over Fair Use.”)

This is, to some degree, connecting with fans. Fans, at least, of the Kleins. It's also refreshing to see a game studio take the stance that they are fans of YouTubers that do some videos based on video games and are actively looking to support them against a bogus copyright lawsuit. Can you imagine, say, Nintendo doing something like this? Given its hardline stance on intellectual property, it's a difficult thing to conjure in one's mind.

Overkill, by the way, is taking 0% from the sales of the Klein DLC. It's a great look for the company.

Filed Under: copyright, ethan klein, fair use, hila klein, let's play, matt hosseinzadeh, payday 2
Companies: overkill software

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 9:37pm

    Re: I'm going with Plaintiff: if all that's been done is add voice-over or insults to the whole (or near) of content, then it's infringement.

    If the new work adds nothing and only gets in the way of the existing creative work, why would people bother to view it? I mean honestly. This means you have the option of either watching the work distraction free, or watching it with someone constantly interrupting what you're trying to watch. If the added commentary did >nothing< then it would get no traffic.

    The answer is because they >did< add something. Commentary. Criticism. Information. Even just their reaction. They get traffic because they are adding to an existing work, and arguably driving traffic for it even if they do little but criticise. People who find the base work interesting for good or ill will want to see it without all the 'interruption'.

    I personally enjoy reaction channels on youtube, as well as reviewers. This can range from enjoying the feeling of watching it with someone else without actually needing to pester my friends into watching something they don't care for to enjoying how a certain person reacts to things to just wanting to watch something over again, but wanting a little more.

    If the studio behind a major game is willing to pony up a whole DLC to support this case, it also goes to show that this isn't just some random person stealing content, but someone of a considerable degree of popularity doing work in the community. They obviously are getting enough traffic to be worth both being fought over their derivation, and receiving support from outside forces to continue it. If they were adding literally >nothing< constructive or interesting, I really don't see them being having enough of a fan base to be worth going after and DEFINATELY not worth enough to get the proceeds from an entire DLC of a pretty popular game.

    For people who don't understand the appeal, I hate to mention this to you, but the original work still exists in it's 'untainted' form, sitting there waiting for you to enjoy it. Nothing's been stolen. It's still there! Arguably, with stuff like this going around, they could probably use your business so why not support them? At the end of the day it isn't like anything has been taken away or ruined, because it still exists there for your enjoyment. The only way its really ruined is if you take the message being delivered to heart and are affected by it, at which point I'd DEFINATELY argue they added to the experience overall.

    The only argument really left to be made is 'Well I don't like it and think it's trash, so it must be'. Which is fine. The wonderful thing about opinions is they are like assholes. Everybody has their own, and life would suck if everyone was expected to share the same one.

    And before anyone accuses me of theft, I will happily admit that last line is paraphrased from the Nostalgia Critic's Les Mis musical review. Attribution :D But... I can't imagine you'd like it to much. It's just a bunch of people talking over clips of the film, and 'not making anything of their own'.

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