h3h3Productions

h3h3Productions (shortened to h3h3) is an Israeli-American comedy YouTube channel produced by husband-and-wife team Ethan and Hila Klein. Their content mostly consists of reaction videos and sketch comedy where they lampoon popular internet culture. In 2016, h3h3 was voted YouTube channel of the year in a poll on Reddit. As of April 2017, the group has over 3.8 million subscribers and more than 604 million views. In addition to their main channel they run a secondary vlog channel by the name of Ethan and Hila.

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Early life

Ethan Edward Klein (born June 25, 1985) was born in Ventura, California to an Ashkenazi Jewish family, and attended Buena High School. Ethan studied English Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 2004 to 2009, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing. He worked as a marketing executive in Israel.

Hila Klein (née Hakmon, Hebrew: הילה חכמון‎‎; born December 12, 1987) was born and raised in Holon, Israel to a Sephardic Jewish family. Hila served as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. During her military service, she met Ethan Klein who was visiting Jerusalem at the time on his Birthright Israel trip. She attended the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel. The couple married in 2012.

They released their first reaction video of the video poem "Girls Who Read" in November 2013; at the time the couple lived together in Israel, in the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv. In April 2015, the Kleins moved to the United States. They first lived in New York City, but moved to Los Angeles in August 2016.

YouTube career

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Ethan Klein at a fan meetup in Stockholm, Sweden

The main form of content on the channel is the "h3h3 reaction video". More involved than traditional reaction videos, these consist of clips of a source video intermixed with commentary and absurd sketches, a style which has been described as a cross between the works of comedy duo Tim & Eric and the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The channel has gained a reputation for criticizing certain Internet trends and personalities as well as the policies of YouTube itself. Often the pair will comment on or participate in online controversies, for instance with SoFloAntonio or LeafyIsHere.

On July 15, by winning a Hot 97 contest, Ethan met DJ Khaled and showed him a series of videos, including "The DJ Khaled Documentary". The channel released a short documentary on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling, which involves trading skins for real-world currency. The channel criticized several YouTubers for attempting to attract young viewers to their gambling websites.

The channel joined the Freedom! network after leaving Collective Digital Studio in August 2015, and since 2016 is a part of the Omnia Media network.

Controversies

Hosseinzadeh v. Klein

Matthew "Matt" Hosseinzadeh (known on YouTube as MattHossZone and nicknamed Bold Guy), the subject of a reaction video on Ethan and Hila's second channel, filed a civil action against them in late April 2016, alleging copyright infringement. Hosseinzadeh claims that he initially contacted the Kleins "to politely ask them to remove my content from their video," but that they refused. Hosseinzadeh's lawyer, Tim Bukher, claims that the video used more than 70% of his work "while contributing nothing substantive to it."

After a video on this was released by h3h3Productions the following month, fellow YouTube personality Philip DeFranco started a fundraiser on GoFundMe to help raise money for their legal fees, citing the need to protect fair use on YouTube. The fundraiser has so far raised almost $170,000, receiving large donations from notable individuals including the Fine Brothers, Markus "Notch" Persson, PewDiePie, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, Justin Roiland, and Garry Newman. The Kleins were, at one point, represented by Ryan Morrison, commonly known as the "Video Game Attorney", and Michael Lee of Morrison & Lee LLP in the lawsuit.

On May 26, 2016, Ethan and Hila announced that the funds raised will go into an escrow account called the "Fair Use Protection Account" (FUPA), overseen by Morrison & Lee LLP to be used to help people defend fair use. On June 27, 2016, Lee announced on Twitter that he had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Court filings from November 2016 state that Ethan and Hila Klein have new attorneys and are no longer represented by Morrison & Lee LLP. Later confirmed by both Ethan and Hila, they stated that the switch was due to, among other reasons, "things not working out". They also discussed that the fees charged by the new firm were US$54,146.57 for one month of work. As of March 17, 2017, the trial set for April 17, 2017 has been adjourned in anticipation of ruling on Summary Judgment motions.

Allegations against The Wall Street Journal

Several prominent channels, including h3h3Productions, supported YouTube personality PewDiePie amid a 2017 controversy over Nazi jokes in one of his videos from January. On February 14, The Wall Street Journal ran a story about PewDiePie's previous references to Hitler, which brought nine other videos into the debate and elicited frequent discussions on whether they were taken out of context. When YouTube subsequently released advertiser-friendly tools to help companies avoid offensive videos, Ethan Klein claimed that the tools were overly broad and negatively affected unrelated content, including his own channel.

One of the authors of the Wall Street Journal piece, Jack Nicas, wrote another one on March 24, claiming that YouTube did not do a good enough job of keeping major advertisements away from racist content. Ethan Klein accused the report of being written selectively to maximize outrage. Specifically, the article showed a Coca-Cola ad playing on a video of "Alabama Nigger" by American country singer Johnny Rebel. Upon seeing that the video was not contributing to the uploader's income, Klein alleged that Nicas had used an altered screenshot and asserted this in a widely shared video. Hours later, he was informed that the video was indeed monetized, but through a copyright claim rather than an explicit choice of the user. Klein withdrew his accusation in response and The Wall Street Journal released a statement that it stood by the authenticity of the screenshots.

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