Bully-ish — How a Story About Influencer Lillee Jean’s Alleged Copyright Abuse Led to Us Receiving Abusive Threats

Lillee Jean over background of justice statue and YouTube copyright claim page
Lillee Jean Lillee Jean/YouTube Billion Photos/Shutterstock

“Should you decide to ignore our email, and pursue this fabricated story, based on these lies, we will immediately take all appropriate legal steps,” Laura Trueman emailed Passionfruit on May 19. That was the first time anyone at the publication, including my publisher and boss James Del, had heard about the story. 

The day prior, I had emailed Laura’s daughter, Lillee Jean Trueman, asking for her response to a video posted by the commentary channel Primink.

At a glance, Lillee Jean seemed like your average influencer, hopeful with a decent internet following of one million Instagram followers. She posts acting reels and sketches, about things like sentient shoes, a secretary standing up to a rude boss, and two sisters talking on the telephone. Though she posts quite often with multiple videos daily, her posts seem to be from a place of innocence and creativity.  

So it caught my attention when, to his million subscribers, YouTuber Primink claimed that after creating a video on the creator four years ago, “Lillee and her mother have been spamming” his channel with copyright notices that got “more unhinged over time.”

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In the emails posted in the video, Lillee and her mother accused Primink of “slander and defamation.” The pair also made unsubstantiated claims that he “fosters sexual discussion” with “minors.” They used his real name and address, which he has not shared publicly. 

Primink is a very private YouTuber, who narrates his videos through an avatar of an aghast young man with blonde hair and a blue T-shirt. He’s always remained anonymous, which is quite difficult to do with an audience of one million subscribers. In the last four years, he’s only posted two videos (including the one about Lillee). When I asked him where he’d been all that time, he side-stepped the question. 

Over the next week following his latest Lillee Jean video, Primink noticed someone edited his Wikitubia page to include his name and home address (though it has since been changed back). He also noticed Lillee Jean posted three (now deleted) videos about “bullying” — and Primink specifically — on her YouTube channel.

Two of those videos included his full name, and one had his hometown and state, which he believes came from information Lillee Jean acquired when Primink visited her website.

“My online footprint is almost nonexistent other than the Primink stuff,” Primink said. “There’s not many ways they could’ve gotten that.” 

After weeks of Primink begging YouTube to acknowledge the incidents on its platform, it finally responded, saying it was “looking into this.” 

During that time, Laura kept emailing us. When we asked Laura for evidence on any of her claims against Primink or how she obtained his real name, she refused to respond. Instead, she sent us vague legal threats, throwing around words like “copyright infringement,” “defamation,” and “slander.”

When I’d tweet or look at Laura’s Instagram Story, there would be an email threatening that her team would “use every legal method necessary to protect [Lillee’s] professional life.” 

May 25 email from Laura Trueman to Passionfruit
May 25 email from Laura to Passionfruit

These emails included Primink’s full legal name. One attempted to discredit his claims of doxxing. It made unsubstantiated allegations that he “or someone who works with him, or for him, placed his personal information” on Wikitubia and that he “doxxed himself” in his latest video. When I spoke to Primink, he denied all of these claims.

“We’d like to make it clear to you that it is obvious that your editors did not convey the message as effectively as we thought they should have about what is going on,” Laura wrote. 

At the end of Primink’s latest video, he included an email asking for anyone who’s received “a copyright claim or any harassment” from the pair to reach out to him. When I asked the YouTuber who I should talk to, he handed me three names of creators who claim that over the past four years, Lillee Jean and her mother have harassed, doxxed, and bullied those who dare question their online presence. 

I received more names, information, and clips from those creators, causing the story to unfold into a weeks-long operatic affair. What started as a simple email evolved into one of the most complex investigations I’ve ever covered. 

It also led to more emails with Laura, each getting more invasive than the last. If I posted a tweet about my research or checked her Instagram Story, there would be an email from Laura sent to my bosses and forwarded to me. If we sent her a question about an archived site on the Wayback Machine or a video, hours later it would be removed.

Lillee Jean and Laura have blocked me on Facebook, X, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. I worried viewing her socials or website now had real ramifications, so I found myself compulsively resetting my IP address and logging every online movement I made. 

This story took over my life in a way that others rarely do, filling my waking days with thoughts of copyright claims, acting reels, and fair use. I thought of traveling far away, sequestered in some back-end town with public wifi where Lillee Jean couldn’t find me. The fear of this story getting me or my colleagues doxxed grew every day, and Lillee Jean’s show was just getting started. 

Commentary Comedown

Like soap-making tutorials or aquarium bros, commentary is a genre of its own on YouTube. Alongside its sister format, the tea channel, commentary usually consists of a creator lampooning or criticizing a public figure or interesting internet story. Creators like Cr1TiKaL, Elvis the Alien, and sometimes Pewdiepie pull in millions of views as commentators. But the copyright strikes they deal with the most are from giant corporations, not a wannabe actress and her mother. 

Primink told me that, to date, Lillee Jean and Laura have filed nine copyright notices against his original video. In that video, he speculates that Jean had “bought followers,” posted “fake brand deals,” and created “fan accounts” that sometimes portrayed racist or homophobic stereotypes. The video uses clips of Lillee Jean to illustrate Primink’s analysis — a classic case of fair use on YouTube. 

Other than for one notice on a video Primink made of a Spanish dub of his Lillee Jean video, YouTube has kept his video up. But each copyright notice he received felt disturbing, as they all included his legal name and some his home address. He said he is still unsure how Laura and Lillee Jean got that information.  

In a recent copyright notice from February 2024 I saw, Lillee claims that Primink used a “copyrighted logo” of her face in the original video’s thumbnail. She got a copyright registration for this in 2022 named “Lillee Jean 2019.” 

February 23 message from Lillee, sent through YouTube to Primink 
February 23 message from Lillee, sent through YouTube to Primink 

In one email sent to my bosses, Laura claims that Primink “is a public figure who makes a lot of money, making videos on people, such as our client, and as of such, is not doxxed.” But public figures can be doxxed, with their private addresses and personal information being shared online.

In the copyright notice to Primink, Lillee claims that because of “threats of murder and antisemitic hate crimes toward” herself and her family that started in 2020, she has filed a “complaint” with the NYPD and has been in “contact with the FBI.” 

The NYPD did not return a request for comment or confirmation. Nor did Lillee Jean or Laura provide proper documentation of any open legal cases against these commentary YouTubers.

“Just ignoring the doxxing and harassment, this is the most clear case of copyright abuse that I’ve seen on the platform since I began YouTube. And nothing has been done,” Primink said. 

Creators Run Scared

Primink is far from the only creator to receive copyright notices from Lillee Jean. While other creators like Curtis Price, Tater Tatiana, SunnyV2, and Angelika Oles have all posted videos on Lillee, Primink’s was the largest, with 10 million views.

First on my list to speak with was Cleore, a 14,000-subscriber YouTube channel that translates drama about American creators for a French audience. She told me that she discovered Lillee Jean’s story from “commentary channels like Primink.” 

12 hours after posting her first video about Lillee on April 26, Lillee filed a copyright notice for using a portion of footage from her video “Project Bullyish.” This resulted in YouTube taking down Cleore’s video. Cleore issued an appeal, which granted Lillee her full name and address.

May 8 message from Lillee Jean, sent through YouTube to Cleore
May 8 message from Lillee Jean, sent through YouTube to Cleore

Filing an appeal might make sense on the surface. But in an appeal, creators need to include their full name and address, which can be sensitive for some people. It’s easy to see how YouTube’s copyright system could be used by creators to take down negative or unwanted content. Other creators have been accused of doing this, like James “Onision” Jackson and Alex Edson

A few hours after we sent YouTube a request for comment, the platform reinstated Cleore’s video. Lillee did send another copyright notice shortly after YouTube put the video back, but YouTube denied the notice. 

I tried my best to get in contact with someone from YouTube, but after several emails to their press team, I received no response. 

A Giraffe Named Jerry

On May 5, 80,000-subscriber YouTuber Curtis Price covered the claim against Cleore on his channel, after she sent him an email asking for advice. I’d been introduced to the upbeat Welsh creator (known for his wooden giraffe sidekick) through his years-long coverage of Lillee Jean’s antics. His videos embody the zeitgeist of the genre, covering every corner of the commentary scene from Jojo Siwa’s strange career switch to the years-long deranged saga of Onision

Later in the week, on May 9, Laura, in a now-deleted post on her own Facebook, shared the personal Facebook accounts of Price’s entire family. This included where some of them work, which he spoke about in a video

In the copyright notification sent to Cleore from Lillee through YouTube, which Cleore forwarded to me, Lillee makes unsupported claims that Cleore “frequents a neo-nazi website” and engages in “terrorist tactics.” Lillee adds that she is “going to assume” Price is Cleore’s “legal representation at this point forward.” The email also listed the full names of Cleore, SunnyV2, and Primink.

“Even if I laughed a bit seeing all they try to do for a small video in French, I became kinda anxious about this,” Cleore said. 

Price has received at least 11 copyright notices on his nine videos about Lillee Jean since 2020. The notices have yet to succeed in taking his videos down. In these notices, Lillee shares similar objections about Price using the image she copyrighted. In one screenshot, the notice demands, “TAKE THIS VIDEO DOWN.” 

Message from Lillee Jean, sent through YouTube to Curtis Price
Message from Lillee Jean, sent through YouTube to Curtis Price

“I believe she was trying to silence me in every possible way,” Price said in an email interview. “But since her copyright takedown requests were constantly denied, she resorted to doxxing my family, slandering me as well as filing a police report against me.”

Other stories have had their risks, but none this serious. His constant run-ins with Lillee and Laura have led Price and his family to “live in a state of anxiety.” He said that “the paranoia” is “exhausting.”

Who is Lillee Jean?

To understand how Lillee and Laura view the internet, I knew I needed to go back to their online beginning. What I didn’t expect to find was the largest online footprint I’ve ever seen, dating back to when Lillee was in elementary school. 

According to the dozens of blogs Lillee Jean has written of herself or had others post, she was born in April 2001 with the content creation itch. She “started making stop-motion blogs for her American Girl dolls when she was a teenager” on her now defunct blog “theyeballqueen.” Some of her blogs from when she was 10 to 12 years old are still online, playing with eye makeup or posing her American Girl Dolls. 

Lil’s American Girl Doll Discoveries, May 8, 2012 
Lil’s American Girl Doll Discoveries, May 8, 2012 

Lillee Jean’s mother, Laura, claims to be an antique salesperson, providing props for movies like “Men in Black 3,” according to a blog she posted on Worthpoint. When I emailed Laura about her professional background, she did not respond.

One of Lillee and Laura’s earliest run-ins on the web happened in late 2017, when Redditors shared Lillee’s website bio in a now-deleted post on the r/delusionalartists subreddit to mock the 16-year-old’s descriptive copy, which claimed that at three-years-old Lillee “was already using a laptop and researching items on the internet” and “by the time she turned seven years old, she revealed to the world, as well as her parents, how much she had learned in just a short time, all on her own!” 

An account claiming to be Laura appeared in the comments, threatening to report commenters to their “local precinct.” I tried to ask Laura if this was actually her, but she did not respond.

“I will ensure that by today’s close of the day we find out who you are,” the account said.

Lillee Jean continued to grow her follower count on Instagram by posting now-deleted make-up vlogs and acting reels. According to Socialblade, she had reached 780,000 followers by January 2019. Her massive follower count caught the attention of the subreddit r/BeautyGuruChatter. The Reddit group speculated that her engagement rate was low for someone with so many supposed followers. 

“After I saw that post, I started looking more into her and realized her entire ‘fame’ was all being fabricated,” Primink told Passionfruit. 

Soon, the story made its way into the commentary YouTube scene. That brought the story to the attention of an entirely new audience. 

Scared Off

Over the phone, YouTuber Tatiana giggled and gasped in her echoey car when I told her about what I was going through covering this story. She had been making YouTube videos for a couple of years before she started covering Lillee Jean in 2020 on her Tater Tatiana commentary channel after watching Primink’s video. In total, she made 11 videos.

Laura and Lillee went on the offensive, sending copyright notices, now-deleted tweets, and creating videos about Tatiana. In one now-deleted 2021 blog post on Lillee Jean’s website, Lillee calls Tatiana “a cyberstalker” and “unstable.” She says, “This woman PREYED on an unstable girl.” (When we sent Laura this Wayback archived blog for comment, hours later Wayback had taken it down with a message that the URL had been excluded). 

Though many of these comments have been deleted or lost, some have been archived by Tatiana. On her side channel dedicated to ASMR, Tatiana reads now-deleted comments from Laura, like “may an elephant shit on your head” and “seek help babe, you need it” in a soothing, quiet voice. 

At the peak of harassment three years ago, Tatiana deleted most of the emails she had received from the pair to try and move on with her life, keeping printouts in a binder. Weeks ago she found the old message collection and thought of throwing it all away for a clean slate. But in a moment of serendipity, she decided to keep them.

“Something just told me that I should hold on to it, and I’m glad I never threw it away because here I am talking to you now,” she told me. 

In those printed-out emails, Lillee Jean and Laura filed at least nine copyright notices against Tatiana’s channel over the past four years. In one, which was about the use of an Instagram Live from Lillee Jean, Laura says, “This woman is evil, she saved [Lillee’s] live feed without permission and [is] using it to defame her on YouTube.” 

May 31 2020 email from Lillee Jean, through YouTube to Tatiana
May 31 2020 email from Lillee Jean, through YouTube to Tatiana

“Tatiana, nobody is blackmailing you. And nobody is threatening you,” Laura said in a May 2020 email where Tatiana attempted to de-escalate. “This is business.” 

After enough threats, Tatiana started a GoFundMe and raised $3,500 to obtain a lawyer. Though she didn’t file a suit, Tatiana’s lawyer filed an appeal to YouTube and acted as an intermediary between her and Laura. 

“I had to give them my phone number, my full name, my address,” Tatiana said. “Lillee definitely doxxed my full name on her community tab.”

Because of the “anxiety” of the doxxes and threats, Tatiana left YouTube and her channel dormant for years. In a video announcing her return in March, Tatiana said that she doesn’t plan on making any more videos on the pair. She hopes to “move on.” 

“Everyone knows at this point that she truly is the bully here,” Tatiana said. “The fact that she’s still continuing to paint herself to be the victim when she’s harassed so many people, large or small creators, it doesn’t matter.” 

Throughout this reporting process, I couldn’t help but wonder how Laura and Lillee Jean were able to get away with all this, and what role YouTube played in facilitating their behavior. According to YouTube’s website, if “any copyright owner finds their copyright-protected content on YouTube without their authorization, they can submit a copyright removal request.

After filing a copyright notice, YouTube will review it through a “combination of automated systems and human reviewers.” Then, it will determine if the notice needs more information or is not justified.

If YouTube does remove the content, the uploader receives a copyright strike on their channel but can appeal. If a channel receives three strikes in 90 days, YouTube terminates the account. 

youtube copyright takedown graph

For a copyright notice to be valid, the copyrighted content can’t be fair use. Fair use is a legal doctrine that looks at four factors — the nature of the content, how much of the original is used, if it is transformative, and the effect it would have on the market for the original.

One case of a successful defense of fair use was in 2017, when YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein managed to win a case against YouTuber Matt Hoss. Hoss wrongly claimed they infringed on his copyright by using clips of his content.

But to creators, copyright strikes can be extremely scary and worrisome. All it takes is three for YouTube to take one channel down, destroying their livelihood in one fell swoop.

YouTube says on its website, “Misuse of the removal request web form, such as submitting false information, may result in the suspension of your account or other legal consequences.”

“I think YouTube needs to do a better job at identifying people that are abusing their copyright system,” Primink told Passionfruit. “YouTube has told creators for years that they have their backs when someone is abusing the copyright system. But they have shown that this is completely false.” 

Elsewhere on the Internet

Outside of YouTube, there have also been claims of Lillee and Laura’s alleged copyright abuse. In 2019, beauty guru Lauren Elyse alleged to Buzzfeed News that she believed Lillee Jean and Laura “created fake accounts to mass-report her account, triggering the algorithm to successfully have her Twitter account suspended” after she posted about Lillee. 

Laura had previously written in a now-deleted tweet targeted at Elyse (where she tagged the wrong account), “Just wait what we have in store for you and your family.”

Laura denied that the takedown of the account, which remains down, was her doing. She told the outlet, “We do not have time to create fake accounts.” She added that “it must have been Lillee’s fans.”

Some subreddits have even become wary of posting about Lillee Jean. A moderator on r/YouTubedrama recently posted that they were going to have to “restrict posts regarding a certain creator with the initials LJ, as admins keep removing posts due to copyright takedowns.” On other subreddits, there are multiple posts about Lillee Jean that “Reddit’s Legal Operations team” has removed.


In my vast amounts of research, I stumbled upon Project Bullyish, a now-deleted 11-minute YouTube “documentary” with a companion website Lillee Jean started in 2022. It talks about the “devastating effects” of internet harassment and “cyberstalking.” In a platitude-packed performance, Lillee talks about the “mental harm” of having disparaging comments hurled at you like a “human punching bag.” 

“There are faulty reporting systems, there were so many accounts mocking me and spreading lies,” Lillee said. “Mocking me, tormenting me, tagging my friends and family with lies.”

There’s no doubt that Lillee Jean does receive harassment online from fringe internet groups. On KiwiFarms, a forum dedicated to the harassment of online personalities, she has a 66-page thread full of personal information and insults. On a similar site, LolCow, the abuse is just as heavy. I’ve dealt with my fair share of internet harassment, so I understood her desire to try to get the vicious noise to stop. 

But in many of the emails and copyright notices Lillee Jean and Laura filed, they try to lump YouTube commentary videos with the “neo-nazis” at these websites. Though commentary channels can sometimes be a bit forward and insulting, they have to adhere to YouTube’s harassment policy. The policy prohibits “prolonged or malicious insults based on intrinsic attributes, including their protected group status or physical traits.” 

There’s a fine line between commentary and harassment. One that YouTubers have to balance to stay safe on the platform.

“Once you start coming after someone for their looks or just stuff that is irrelevant to what you’re talking about, that’s when it goes too far,” Tatiana said. “Because you’re adding nothing to the conversation, you’re just being hateful to be hateful.” 

Don’t Come After My Dad

In total, our team received 7 emails from Laura — none of which answered a single question we asked (at least not on purpose). She claims that “it is a breach of privacy” for us to share the emails she sent us due to a confidentiality statement at the end of each of her emails. Except that’s not how it works. The Economist described those “email footers” as “legally useless.” 

After sending Laura our final list of questions before publishing, she responded to our publisher James Del using his full legal name, which he did not share publicly or in the email. James has seen a lot in media since starting in the aughts in the early days of Gawker, but this was a first. “Can’t make this shit up,” he wrote in an email to me. 

In an email response to Laura, James shared the sentiment of the entire team at Passionfruit: “I assume I’m supposed to feel intimidated by your email?”

“Your daughter deserves a chance to make it on the merits of her own talent,” he wrote in an attempt to appeal to Laura’s humanity. “But as for you, mom: The doxxing, the fake comments, and the takedown requests are making it really hard for anyone to see Lillee’s talent.”

In response, Laura asked for our lawyer’s contact, used James’ real name again, and deleted all of the links to videos and websites we included. 

In another email that held no punches, she claimed that I “might very well be one of the people on KiwiFarms and or/LOLCOWS” and “that it is entirely possible that your company was hired to do a test marketing campaign to grow this side of your digital market and integrate it with YouTube.”

“This is a paid hit article, we both have been in this business long enough to smell a setup,” Laura wrote. 

May 29 email from Laura Trueman to Passionfruit
May 29 email from Laura to Passionfruit

Most troublingly, she claimed I am “a former Judges’ child who has access to personal records.” My father passed a decade ago and was the most honorable human being I’ve ever known. To drag his legacy into a conspiracy theory about me having access to records is just absurd.

It’s an attempt to discredit the messenger telling the stories of creators who feel wronged and scared. It’s an attempt to scare us into silence. I just won’t let that happen, so get in touch if you’ve faced anything similar. 

Have a clue into our next big story? Email tips@passionfru.it to get in touch.

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