Copyright owner Triller filed a wave of lawsuits after the PPV fight aired, targeting various sites and their operators. That included a number of YouTube channels including the H3 Podcast, which is currently fighting back citing fair use, a defense that Triller says isn’t available.
Despite the main event of the Jake Paul card ending in just 119 seconds, Triller’s lawsuits are aimed at recovering damages for alleged copyright infringement of that segment. That’s also the aim of a lawsuit filed in June targeting Arvin De La Santos, the alleged operator of the YouTube channel YourEXTRA.
In its complaint filed at a California court, Triller demanded compensation for copyright infringement and vicarious copyright infringement (Triller says Santos profited from the fight) in an amount to be determined at trial, plus $110,000 for each violation of the Federal Communications Act. It now transpires that Triller was initially happy to settle the matter out of court but that didn’t go to plan.
Fair Use, Innocent Infringement, Unclean Hands
This week De La Santos formally answered Triller’s complaint and as is common with such responses, the YouTuber largely denies most of Triller’s allegations.
The answer from De La Santos cites the doctrine of fair use as an affirmative defense. No specifics are detailed at this stage and since the nature of the original video is currently unclear, it’s hard to assess whether the defense will hold water moving forward.
‘Innocent infringement’ is put forward as another affirmative defense, with a note that should the defendant’s actions be deemed “improper” (this is disputed by the defense), then any infringement was in good faith and not willful.
What is more immediately interesting though is the claim that the dispute could have been settled before it had even begun, if Triller had kept to its word.
Triller “Refused to Honor” Settlement Agreement
After the Jake Paul fight aired in April, Triller launched an amnesty campaign for people who watched the fight online without paying. The company said that up to two million people could pay a settlement fee to avoid legal action.
It’s unclear whether that campaign bore any fruit but according to De La Santos’ answer, settling Triller’s claims in return for the company not filing a lawsuit didn’t go to plan. The YouTuber’s attorney says that Triller comes to the court with ‘unclean hands’ after acting in bad faith in respect of a pre-lawsuit settlement agreement.
“Defendant was enticed to settle the alleged infringement as opposed to having to go to Court. Defendant agreed to sign Plaintiff’s settlement agreement, and paid the required fee which came with a release of claims,” the filing reads.
“Thereafter, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit and returned the settlement fee (without interest) and now seeks to recover damages and attorney fees that they are not entitled to. This is a deceptive act and practice under California law,” it continues adding: “The parties have previously agreed and resolved this dispute, which Plaintiff has now refused to honor.”
Defendant Seeks Judgment
In closing, De La Santos asks the court to ensure that Triller “takes nothing by way of their complaint” including legal or equitable relief. He asks for the complaint to be dismissed with prejudice (cannot be filed again) and that judgment is entered in his favor.
The YouTuber also demands his costs and attorney fees incurred thus far or a jury trial, if necessary.
Finally, in Triller’s ongoing lawsuit filed against the H3 Podcast that alleges piracy of the same event, there appear to be settlement controversies of a different type.
The H3 Podcast reports that in an effort to end that dispute quickly and amicably, it offered to pay Triller $25,000. That offer was reportedly rejected with Triller countering with a much larger amount of $900,000. It also wanted the H3 Podcast to publish the statement below, which at the time would have served as a propaganda tool to ensure that people who watched the event illegally would settle with Triller.
The De La Santos/YourEXTRA answer to Triller’s complaint can be found here (pdf)