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. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 10:01pm

    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.

    Doesn't matter how lousy the content is, nor how you judge it.

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GAME, AND HOW YOU PLA—wait will anybody here even get that reference?

    Defendants clearly have nothing without Plaintiff's content, therefore it's not parody or transformative, but some degree of theft.

    Technically, it would be “copyright infringement”, and copying—even illicit copying—is not theft.

    They didn't assemble their own work (apparently it's not a melange skewing several persons), just added insults.

    Late night talk show hosts do this all the time; nobody sues them for copyright infringement over it.

    This is literally adding insult to injury, then.

    Technically, it would be adding insult to copyright infringement—the plaintiff still has to prove any actual injury that comes from the infringement, after all.

    By the way, egregious insults is exactly why Masnick has problems now.

    Nah, he has problems because some half-assed half-ass thinks he can use the legal system to shake down yet another journalistic outlet that called him out on his whole-assed lies.

    This is clearly a trend: I call it Gawkering.

    Better outlets than Gawker have been pissing off dumb rich motherfuckers for decades before that site was ever even an idea. This is not some new idea, no matter how much you think you came up with it before anyone else and think you deserve all the credit for it.

    You should all take note that your notions about "free speech" law clearly aren't holding up, either.

    Several courts have ruled that the usage of an entire work within another work can, under certain circumstances, be considered Fair Use. The law is generally unclear on this (as a good chunk of Fair Use law often is), but do not act as if there is no precedent for the idea.

    Many "pundits" on the internet make nothing of their own, but it's easy to insult.

    Note to self: Coming up with unique insults for individual situations is not creative, stick to the old “public domain” standbys such as “imbecile”, “half-wit”, and “the orange-skinned toupeé-wearing hobgoblin that hides underneath a child’s bed”.

    Adds nothing to society that needs the protections due copyrighted content.

    I am pretty sure that those late night talk show hosts I mentioned would disagree with you.

    It riles targets immensely.

    Yes, and? A person’s emotional response to something does not determine whether something deserves the protection of copyright. One of those awful Trump children wrote a book full of quotes and mishmashed axioms about generic “you go girl” nonsense aimed at rich white women, and she still gets the benefit of copyright.

    It's likely that Plaintiff here only tried to entertain other people, poured out what he/she has of soul, which may not be much, and that makes it sting all the more.

    Hal P. Warren poured his soul into “Manos: The Hands of Fate”, and look how that film turned out.

    Don't insult people, kids. NO GOOD CAN COME OF IT.

    “Unless you are really fuckin’ good at it, in which case you can probably become a somewhat successful stand-up comedian or some shit. But you gotta be really, really fuckin’ good at that shit, or else you’re gonna end up face-first in a toilet at a dive bar wondering what the hell happened to your life, your bank account, and your two front teeth that you vomited up ten minutes ago.”

    If that's all you've got, follow old advice and say nothing.

    Second note to self: Never say anything if it could possibly hurt the feelings of anyone else in the world.

    …shit, too late.

    There's no percentage in insults for you, and potential big down-side.

    Well, Techdirt took the piss out of the Prenda jackasses for years, and that does not seem to have brought the site down. So, uh…maybe rethink that notion.

    Oh, and I just repurposed your entire comment for the purposes of foul-mouthed commentary with a few insults thrown in for good measure, so I expect to be sued by you for copyright infringement any day now. I cannot wait to hear from your highly ethical and fair-minded atto—I mean, whatever dumbass lawyer you can dredge up to file the lawsuit.


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