Alex Edson, the owner of the educational YouTube channel Business Casual and overseer of its 1.6 million subscribers, has been accused of filing predatory copyright strikes against other high-profile YouTuber competitors, putting their channels and their livelihoods in jeopardy.
“I think I might have found the biggest piece of shit on YouTube,” gaming creator Ludwig Ahgren said in a May video about Edson, which received over 1.1 million views. Ahfren is one of several influential users who have recently called out Edson for filing copyright claims against creators that produce similar content to him. Edson did not respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment about the allegations via email.
John, the man who runs the Magnates Media YouTube channel, which has over 962,000 subscribers, shares similar educational content to Edson on topics like finance and history. He tweeted on May 9 that Edson filed three copyright strikes against him. He claimed YouTube informed him that his page would be taken down within days.
“This means all of my videos, the channel I’ve spent years building, and my entire livelihood is now at risk of being taken away,” John tweeted. He wrote in a YouTube comment that he reached out to Edson to settle the matter privately, but received no response.
Under YouTube’s copyright policy, creators can file copyright claims against other users who they believe have used their content without permission. The copyright holder may then be able to generate ad revenue from the other person’s video, restrict the content, or do nothing at all.
A copyright strike, commonly known as a “copystrike,” goes one step beyond a claim—the apparent copyright holder can request that the video is taken down entirely, and getting a strike can impact a creator’s ability to monetize their videos and to live stream for extended periods. Three copyright strikes result in channel termination.
“I’d spent years building my channel. … The prospect of everything suddenly being deleted is pretty devastating,” John told Passionfruit. “YouTube creators almost never file copyright strikes against other creators, as everyone is aware it can take someone’s livelihood away.”
John shared a screenshot of the copyright strikes from Business Casual to prove Edson really made claims against him, as well as video footage of the editor applying a filter to the photo Edson claimed was lifted from his video. John also shared footage of the edits made to the video script in a Google Doc to prove it hadn’t been written using AI-driven tweaks to Edson’s script, as Edson claimed.
John further explained YouTube did not respond to his inquiries about the allegedly false copyright strike. YouTube did not respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment via email but tweeted in response to John that the company does not mediate copyright disputes but will look into the “misuse” of its copyright tools to “prevent abuse.”
Edson’s history of copystriking
Upper Echelon, a YouTube commentary channel, shared a critical video the same day as John breaking down the allegations against Edson, explaining that one of the images in John’s video that received a strike was publicly available—not ripped from Edson’s video, as he claimed. There’s also a visibly distinct filter applied to the photo, which appears to be burning in John’s video as opposed to a 3D parallax effect in Edson’s. The image only appeared for one second.
To make matters worse, he explained this is not Edson’s first copystrike rodeo. He also previously sued Russian state media company Russia Today (RT) over alleged copyright violations on its Arabic YouTube channel. Representatives from the media company admitted in court that they did infringe on Edson’s copyrights.
According to court documents for his case against Russia Today, Edson didn’t just file copyright strikes against creators on YouTube. He sued the platform itself, saying YouTube should be able to terminate channels with copyright violations filed against them without any burden of proof for the copyright holder. A judge dismissed that part of the case.
Edson announced this lawsuit against the platform in a 1 hour and 47-minute video in August 2022, calling the company “evil” for not immediately taking down Russia Today’s channel for using his account’s copyrighted image. The video is the only one uploaded to Edson’s channel in the past three years, garnering 2.2 million views.
YouTubers rally against Edson
Since John has an audience nearly as big as that of Edson’s, the creator was able to raise awareness over the potential termination of his channel. But this saga has raised awareness about how simple it would be for a potentially bad actor to terminate competitive channels without much thought.
“[Edson] is trying to destroy another creator in one of the most despicable ways possible,” Upper Echelon wrote in his video’s caption. “Please get the attention of YouTube, please help spread the word. … This kind of attack should NOT be allowed to stand in the creator community.”
Other popular creators like SomeOrdinaryGamers (3.4 million subscribers), Scott Shafer (131,000 subscribers), and penguinz0 (13 million subscribers) also made videos about Edson’s copyright strikes. Charles White, the man behind the penguinz0 YouTube channel, said in his video response that false copyright strikes are an “unforgivable sin” among creators.
“It’s sickening to see him do this to someone he views as competition,” White said in his video. “That’s the only explanation I can think of for why he even targets this channel.”
Days after sharing a video about the copyright strike saga, Upper Echelon shared a community post on YouTube claiming he has received seven different privacy complaints about his video concerning Edson.
“Alex Edson is (to reiterate for the millionth time) an Unhinged, Unstable and Malicious force infecting the YouTube ecosystem,” the creator wrote. “The person we are dealing with has surrendered his grip on reality.”
The way influential creators have rallied around John has raised awareness about just how easy it is to put a creator’s income in jeopardy. If someone like Edson were to file a strike against a smaller channel with less community support, it could be quietly terminated without much fuss.
Perhaps it’s time the “unwritten rule” against fraudulent copyright strikes becomes a little bit more written.