A popular Taiwan-based YouTuber, famous for his movie recap videos, is facing a lawsuit against local studios, which are accusing him of copyright infringement.
Chung Wei-ding, more famously known as AmoGood (谷阿莫), makes videos of big screen films, where he often humourously summarises their plot with quick-speaking voiceover.
He’s done parodies of local films, as well as Hollywood blockbusters like 50 Shades of Grey and Guardians of the Galaxy.
This one, in his typical style, is titled “Watch Guardians of the Galaxy in 5 minutes.”
AmoGood has over 990,000 subscribers, who often virally share his creations on social media.
But Taiwanese film studio AutoAi Design, and streaming platform KKTV, say 31-year-old infringed on the studios’ copyright.
AutoAi Design, which distributed films like Doraemon: Nobita’s Space Heroes in Taiwan, also said that AmoGood’s critiques have greatly dented its ticket sales at the box office.
Taiwanese prosecutors obtained a warrant to raid his company premises for evidence, and the YouTuber was called into a Taipei police station for questioning last week, the China Post reported.
Can you get sued for making parodies?
AmoGood’s videos are produced in a similar vein to other popular channels such as CinemaSins and Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers.
Elaina Foo, a Singapore-based associate lawyer at Holborn Law, said many of these producers typically claim fair use as a defence in most jurisdictions.
“Generally, where a YouTuber can demonstrate that his use of copyright material was ‘fair’, it would not be considered infringement, although some jurisdictions may have other requirements as well,” Foo told Mashable.
Courts generally consider several factors in determining if a work is derivative — and not an infringement. Work that is transformative, remixing the original to change or comment on its meaning, could be considered fair use.
Other instances of fair use include clips for news reporting, teaching, or research.
But AmoGood may be in a bind in Taiwan, whose media laws don’t count parodies as fair use. The territory’s courts are likely to consider other factors too, such as whether the work takes away potential sales or viewers from the original work.
Additionally, reports have speculated that AmoGood downloads the source films illegally, since he’s able to produce the parodies so quickly after their box office debut.
In a video statement, AmoGood said that his videos fulfilled the fair use defence, adding that he only used a minimal portion of the copyrighted source films.
AmoGood further asserts that YouTube is on his side, claiming that the streaming giant has confirmed over email that it isn’t taking his videos down.
“Each film is the brainchild of directors and producers, and this guy just took it and made fun of it,” Kevin Chu — the director of Taiwanese hits like Kung Fu Dunk — told Apple Daily. “I don’t believe that this is considered fair use. It’s disrespect.”