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Jukin Media, Equals Three Settle YouTube Viral-Video Copyright Lawsuit

Jury found Ray William Johnson-owned channel's use of clips were illegal

Viral-video aggregator Jukin Media settled its copyright-infringement lawsuit against Ray William Johnson’s Equals Three Studios, after a jury in the case found Equals Three had misappropriated Jukin’s YouTube clips.

The central issue in the case: whether or not Equals Three’s use of Jukin-represented videos without obtaining a license was covered under U.S. copyright law’s “fair use” provision.

After Jukin had submitted YouTube takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for several Equals Three videos, Equals Three in November 2014 sued Jukin, arguing that the material in question was covered under fair use. Last October, a federal judge ruled in favor of Equals Three for all but one of the contested Jukin videos, finding that most were “transformative.”

However, Jukin subsequently appealed for a ruling on which videos at issue were in fact transformative, given that the judge had not entered a summary judgment in Equals Three’s favor. The case went to trial this week, and after hearing evidence the jury found that Equals Three did not have fair-use rights to any of the 48 videos Jukin had alleged were infringed.

Terms of the settlement between the parties, announced Friday, were not disclosed. The agreement “lays the groundwork for a collaborative business relationship in the future,” Jukin and Equals Three said in a joint statement.

“For us, this case was about standing up for our video owners,” Jukin Media founder and CEO Jonathan Skogmo said in a statement. “If a video that we represent is used commercially in a way that doesn’t look like fair use, we’ll be vigilant about taking action.”

He added, “We hold no ill will toward Ray, we’re pleased to put the dispute behind us, and we look forward to working with Ray and Equals Three in the near future.”

Ray William Johnson said in a statement: “From my perspective, this case was a fight to protect the First Amendment rights of me and other creators like myself. At the end of it all, Jon and I came up with a solution that would allow me to continue to exercise my rights and would benefit both my business and his… After all is said and done, I think both of us came out of the dispute in a better position than we went in, which is more than we could’ve asked for.”

The case, “Equals Three, LLC. v. Jukin Media, Inc. et al,” was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Pictured above: an Equals Three episode from February 2013 that used Jukin-licensed clip “Burning My Hair Off.”

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