What happens when a small YouTuber finds out that a big, corporate YouTube channel and website is plagiarizing her published ideas?
Even when she’s in the hospital about to endure surgery, she’s gonna fight for her rights online. Akilah Hughes, of independent YouTube channel SmoothieFreak, did so as she was going to doctor’s appointments and even laying in a hospital room fighting BuzzFeed via twitter. Her tag, #StopBuzzThieves became a raging Twitter trend in the few hours after its creation and is still being updated with Hughes finally getting a response from one of the founders of BuzzFeed itself on July 12. This situation started back about two weeks beforehand.
On June 29th of this year, BuzzFeed Video posted a short video that didn’t even last a minute long. It was entitled: “The Perfect Weekend for an Introvert”. Introversion is a common topic online, but Hughes was struck when the thumbnail was eerily similar to her video that she had posted last year in January entitled: “How to Be an Introvert — According to Tumblr Ep. 1”. While Hughes’ video is longer, clocking in at over two minutes, the BuzzFeed video seemingly copied a scene in Hughes’ video almost exactly. What made Hughes upset was that her video only has received a little over 65,000 views in the last year, whereas BuzzFeed’s video has received millions.
“BuzzFeed has been caught repeatedly stealing ideas, jokes, bits, gags, and therefore money from prominent YouTube creators and we’ve all had enough,” Hughes said in her article that accompanies her change.org petition. Her argument continues on in her petition started in the hopes that she can convince advertisers, such as McDonald’s, to stop supporting a company that she thinks rips off other people’s works to make quick cash.
As of July 12th, Hughes had received a statement from BuzzFeed CEO/Founder Jonah Peretti on Medium, seemingly refuting some, but not all, of the accusations, stating that content can be similar across the YouTube platform.
“We’re also launching a public crediting system this summer to highlight our collaborative process of making videos and the specific contributions of individual contributors.” Peretti said. He also claimed: “BuzzFeed is developing new programs that will allow independent producers to collaborate with our team and get the benefits of BuzzFeed’s resources and cross-platform, global audience.”
Four hours after Peretti wrote his response, Hughes wrote a response back. Hughes made sure Peretti knew that it wasn’t the subject matter that bothered her, but how the shots were very similar. (Gifs made by Hughes)
Hughes said in reply: “If YouTuber X makes a video and then CONGLOMO-FEED makes the same video that allots them a $5 million dollar-50 video deal with McDonald’s, Comcast, Honda, etc., that is not only intellectual theft, that’s a dishonest way to earn money.”
For right now, things are still unfinished. “This isn’t about my video,” Hughes tweeted on July 2nd. “It’s about years of theft.”