MANHATTAN (CN) – A comedy duo who lampooned a misogynistic video by fellow YouTube star Matt Hoss ducked federal defamation and copyright claims.
Ethan and Hila Klein posted their send-up in 2016, reviewing a short 2013 film by Matt “Hoss” Hosseinzadeh.
In the older video, Hoss’ character “The Bold Guy” confronts a woman exercising provocatively in the street, ultimately wooing her with his broad shoulders and parkour agility.
The Kleins played the 5-minute video on their YouTube channel, interspersed with critical commentary.
Though Hoss later accused them of copyright infringement and defamation, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest sided with the couple Wednesday at summary judgment.
In addition to finding nothing actionable about the Kleins’ video commentary, Forrest said their use of clips from the Hoss video qualifies as fair use.
“Any review of the Klein video leaves no doubt that it constitutes critical commentary of the Hoss video; there is also no doubt that the Klein video is decidedly not a market substitute for the Hoss video,” the 21-page opinion states.
As explained in the ruling, Hoss had cause to take offense to the Kleins’ review of his film.
Capping off its mocking Hoss’ performance, dialogue and plot, the reaction video calls out the “Hoss video as quasi-pornographic and reminiscent of a ‘Cringetube’ genre of YouTube video known for ‘cringe’-worthy sexual content,” Forrest wrote.
“As critical as it is,” she added, “the Klein video is roughly equivalent to the kind of commentary and criticism of a creative work that might occur in a film studies class.”
The Kleins posted another YouTube video in celebration of their court win. “After a year and a half of doing depositions, filing summaries, motions, hundreds of thousands of dollars later, we slammed this bitch, dude,” said Ethan Klein.
“This is a landmark case, not just for us, but seriously the wording that the judge put into the opinion is going to strengthen fair use across YouTube,” he added. “This opinion by the judge is a slam dunk, Kobe.”
On his Twitter page, Klein also quoted a savage upbraiding of Hoss by the couple’s attorney, Rom Bar-Nissim with the firm Fox Rothschild. “Plaintiff must realize he cannot treat well-settled law and undisputed facts like the women in his videos; they will not simply change because Plaintiff is persistent and impervious to their hostility,” Bar-Nissim said in one of the couple’s court filings.
Judge Forrest’s opinion emphasizes that reaction videos as a genre are not guaranteed the protections of fair use. “Some reaction videos, like the Klein video, intersperse short segments of another’s work with criticism and commentary, while others are more akin to a group viewing session without commentary,” the opinion states.
After Hoss sued them the Kleins and their production company H3H3, another YouTube vlogger Philip DeFranco created a GoFundMe page for the couple that ultimately raised more than $170,000.
Despite an impressive 11 million views for his “Parkour Girl” video, Hoss’ YouTube channel has just 170,000 subscribers.
The H3H3 YouTube channel has 4.6 million by contrast.
The “About” section Hoss’ YouTube channel describes the channel as “vlogs and original comedy, action, horror, and fantasy short films. With electronic dance music. From the mind of Matt Hosseinzadeh.”
Thompson Bukher attorney Tim Bukher filed Hoss’ complaint last year. Bukher did not return a request for comment.
Hoss included a link to the ruling on his Twitter account, along with just one misspelled word: “Outch.”