A federal district court ruled in favor of two YouTube filmmakers who were sued over a lampoon video, in a case addressing fair use copyright protections.
Fair use laws are intended to protect artists who use portions of each other’s work to create new art.
Hila and Ethan Klein made a video lampooning another YouTube web star, Matt Hosseinzadeh.
Hosseinzadeh is behind the “Bold Man” about a fictional “confident and funny man who picks up women,” and “gets into all sorts of crazy trouble.”
The Kleins’ video offered commentary on “Bold Man” and include actual clips from Hosseinzadeh’s web show.
Hosseinzadeh’s sued, arguing that the Kleins had committed copyright infringement, that they violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and that they defamed him.
But on Wednesday, Judge Katherine Forrest in the federal court for New York’s Southern District, dismissed the claims. In her opinion, Forrest said the Kleins had not violated copyright laws and their video was protected by fair use laws.
“Because the Klein video does not ‘offer a substitute for the original,’ it does not (and indeed, cannot) ‘usurp a market that properly belongs to the copyright-holder,’ ” Forrest wrote, citing conditions necessary for violating fair use rules.
The Kleins received over $150,000 in donations toward their legal fees from other YouTube stars and supporters.
“They didn’t give us money because they like us,” Ethan Klein told Time in May. “They did it because they want to protect that principle — to show them that we can’t be bullied.”
The case could have a far reaching impact on fair use law. Larger companies often sue artists and content creators over portions of copyrighted content. YouTube creators and artists in other fields could find protection from the Kleins’ case.
“We won the lawsuit. Video coming soon. Huge victory for fair use on YouTube,” Ethan Klein tweeted on Wednesday.