Pewdiepie vs. Alinity: YouTube’s Latest Copyright Scandal Was a Misunderstanding?

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Pewdiepie and Twitch streamer Alinity have been feuding over copyrights. It’s a mess.

It seems that YouTube is once again at the heart of another controversy (man, they just can’t catch a break can they?), only this time it seems to be even worse because it was apparently all a big misunderstanding!

Twitch streamer, Alinity Divine, has found herself mired in controversy following a series of copyright claims against Pewdiepie and other content creators.

The Players: Pewdiepie, Alinity Divine and CollabDRM

Our players are Pewdiepie, Alinity Divine and CollabDRM, although I suspect this is one game nobody wanted to play!

Pewdiepie vs. Alinity
Felix ‘Pewdiepie’ Kjellberg – Source: USA Today

Pewdiepie aka Felix Kjellberg is one of – if not the biggest contributor – on YouTube, boasting just over 62 million subscribers. He’s known for his, well… unorthodox approach to entertaining commentary, including a lot of loud yelling and swearing – though the latter seems to have died down following a rather nasty controversy last year.

Pewdiepie vs. Alinity
Alinity; this was literally the safest picture I could find of this person! – Source:

Alinity is a Canadian Twitch Streamer who has been streaming full-time since 2012. Apart from that, the only other useful piece of info I could find was that she’s had her fair share of controversy. Apparently she did a piece discussing why cheating was different for women as opposed to men, basically justifying cheating in a relationship. It was a huge mess (as you’d expect) and she got a lot of flak for it.

Our final player is a company, CollabDRM, who essentially are supposed to protect a content creators’ investments (their content).

So what exactly is this latest YouTube controversy?

This whole thing starts with Pewdiepie testing a new function on YouTube – Eye Tracking – while watching one of Alinity’s videos.

During the video, he mentions the term ‘Twitch Thot’ (a derogatory term used to define streamers who use their bodies to generate views). This led to Alinity claiming she would ‘copy strike’ Pewdiepie’s latest video.

A short time later, Pewdiepie is contacted and informed that a copyright claim has been filed and that the video has been monetized by the claimant (CollabDRM). Soon after that, other creators commenting on the situation are also issued the same message.

Now, this is where things get a bit more complicated. Why? Because there’s a difference between a strike and a claim, that’s why?

Copyright Claim vs. Copyright Strike: What’s the Difference?

A copyright claim means that the creator you’re filing the claim against is notified but the video stays up and remains monetized. Both contributors – the claimant and the person being claimed against – gets a piece of the pie, so to speak. That is, of course, unless the claimant requests the removal of the infringing content.

A strike is a whole other thing! If you are issued a copyright strike the video is taken down and you’re basically told: “Don’t do it again”, and given a certain amount of time where you can’t post a video.

If you get three strikes… well, that’s it, you’re done. Your channel is deleted along with all of your content.

That being said, because YouTube’s TOS allow for reaction-based content as ‘fair use’. This is what the claimed videos would presumably fall under. All this means that the legitimacy of Alinity’s claims is very sketchy – and that’s putting it politely!

YouTube Copyright Scandal
CollabDRM. I don’t know what to say about this; it’s just dumb – Source: Twitter

Fair Use Classification

So, what is ‘fair use’?

‘Fair use’ is where copyrighted material is used for a limited, transformative purpose i.e. commentary, criticism, parody. Such uses can be done without the permission of the copyright holder (thank you Stanford University Libraries, you’re cool).

Now, if Pewdiepie was criticising/commenting on a video by another channel – which he was – that would fall under the classification of ‘fair use’ and he wouldn’t have necessarily needed Alinity’s permission to use her video.

And that’s what makes this a very, very worrying story.

Initial Thoughts and a Lack of Information

The break of the news left me somewhat angry and confused – much like every other content creator on the net. I was also incredibly worried, because at one point Alinity mentioned making money off these claims, which, if the claims are false, would be absolutely crazy.

That said, I wasn’t quite sure what was what, so I looked into it a bit more. Unfortunately, the internet was surprisingly lacking in information.

There were couple of threads on Reddit, which only tried to paint a very negative picture of Alinity as a vain, shallow person. I also found a couple of articles on this whole controversy but they were just repeating info that the initial coverage had already given me.

All that said, it seems that the information – or rather lack thereof – actually helped out a bit, as those covering this story had to wait for an update. Thankfully, that update came fairly quickly on Friday, May 18th, and it seems that the whole thing was a misunderstanding of some sort.

A misunderstanding brought on by posturing

The update to the initial story on May 18 talked about how Alinity was posturing. She acts all tough, like she knows what’s up, but in reality she either doesn’t know or doesn’t understand how things work.

It turns out that an employee over at CollabDRM manually detected Alinity’s content and filed the claim. She was apparently speaking in the moment and actually didn’t ask for any of the other videos to be flagged.

According to Alinity, the CollabDRM guys would just flag the videos if they found her content and she’d get paid some of the revenue from those videos. She was apparently unaware of the ways copyright law works. CollabDRM seemingly had the same problem.

Pewdiepie vs. Alinity
Yep, this about sums up my thoughts – Source: knowyourmeme

Flagged Videos: A Mistake

Now, CollabDRM did admit the videos that they flagged were a mistake – that they fell under fair use and were therefore not violating any copyright laws. So, as much as I’d love to tear these guys apart much like everyone else on Reddit is doing, I do have to give credit where credit is due. They looked into the situation, found the mistake and admitted the mistake as they corrected it.

Considering how many other incidences like this end with either a non-apology (I’m looking at you Channel Awesome) an insincere apology or nothing at all, it was nice to see someone own up to a mistake for a change.

This doesn’t really change much, but it does lead to an interesting question: Should creators involve third parties to protect their content?

A question of third parties: How will other creators be affected?

Yes, CollabDRM corrected and owned up to their mistake, but it doesn’t change the fact that many content creators online are going to be looking at these guys and others like them and walking the other way.

Is that fair? Not really, but it’s basic human nature to second-guess oneself after an incident like this. The content creators who were flagged would’ve lost a portion of their income if this hadn’t been caught; that’d be enough to make any creator – particularly newbie creators – a little antsy about signing on with them.

This is also going to hurt exposure-wise. Why? Because if a content creator puts something together and it’s safe under the fair use classification of YouTube’s TOS only to have that video go through something like this, it’s going to make it very difficult to expand a viewership.

How many channels have you been introduced to via reaction-based content (watching a reaction video)? If these kinds of shenanigans happen each time they’re created, nobody really wins.

Final thoughts and some take aways for those involved

As far as responses go, the general response to this whole thing has been an explosive backlash. The primary target (Pewdiepie) was largely silent until just after the May 18 update. He, of course, responded with that comedic flare that he’s so well-known for.

Ultimately, this boils down to a creator who didn’t know when to dial it back. Alinity saw Pewdiepie’s video, didn’t like something he said (which is fair enough), had an on-camera freak out, and threatened to ‘copyright strike’ his video.

Now, you may be asking: “Wait, didn’t she say that she didn’t file the claims?”

The answer is yes, she did say that she didn’t file the claim. The guys at CollabDRM confirmed that and that’s kind of the problem. The update from May 18 included an audio recording of a phone call between her and Philip De Franco. In that recording she talks about getting all kinds of harassment in her chat thread, how she was tired of rampant sexism online in general among other things.

Alinity was frustrated and spoke without really thinking. The claim was filed and she took credit for getting the video claimed. Yet after everything, it all just blew up in her face.

Some learning curves?

Hopefully Alinity will not exacerbate situations in the future, rather de-escalating them in a more positive way. She had ample time to de-escalate the situation and prevent it from getting worse, but she didn’t use it. Instead, she went on a warpath which ultimately just led to more trouble than she could really handle. She has said that she’s going to be leaving her contract with CollabDRM as soon as she’s able.

And hopefully Pewdiepie can stop saying sexist/racist/generallystupid comments. The number of controversies is getting concerning.

takes a deep breath

Okay, so those are my thoughts and now I’d love to know yours. Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think of this situation.

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