Jukin Media / MxR / YouTube
Above is still taken from one of four videos in the center of the controversy
Two YouTubers were told to pay $ 6,000 (£ 4,600) or risk completely losing their YouTube channel.
MxR and Potastic Panda are known for creating videos that react to memes and other online content.
But it turns out that four videos they watched were bought by a media company, which accused them of violating their copyright.
And unless you pay, your channel can now be removed due to the nuances of YouTube's copyright system.
A channel receives a warning against it if a copyright owner formally notifies YouTube that a copyright infringement has occurred. Receiving three strikes, according to Google, results in a "termination" YouTube channel.
MxR Plays is a YouTube channel that usually involves & # 39; reaction videos & # 39; – where people shoot reacting to anything from memes to movie trailers.
MxR and Potastic Panda, the channel's YouTubers, say they have received four copyright claims on the same Jukin Media account, with Google still being notified. Their joint channel has 840,000 subscribers – and MxR has personal followers of over two million.
MxR tweeted his concerns that because of the three strike rule, if he doesn't pay, Jukin Media could contact Google with all four claims at once and potentially "topple" the channel.
MxR / Twitter
MxR regretted that only one of the couple's videos cost them $ 3,000 (£ 2,300) because it contained footage from two Jukin Media clips.
"Today we were hit with a huge $ 6,000 bill," MxR said in a YouTube video viewed 1.3 million times. "I think it's because in the past we paid them about $ 2,000 (1,500 pounds).
"If you don't pay, they'll start attacking your channel – basically they will remove our channel if we don't pay."
He said the couple did a "thorough search" to see if their video content already belongs to a media company, but it's not always easy.
"Sometimes it's videos where it's just a cat," he said, "and there's really nothing you can look for.
"You end up having to search 40 pages of videos and sometimes miss one of them. If they treat all YouTuber like that, thousands of channels will be deleted."
Jukin Media, the company that owns the four videos, responded in a lengthy social media post, claiming that YouTubers are "making money on videos that don't belong to them."
Jukin Media / Twitter
"As we mentioned repeatedly" Jukin Media statement says, "you can completely avoid any copyright issues by simply licensing videos on our site.
"In fact, you're shooting other people's videos without asking, then posting them on your channel and making money from them.
"We never want to issue copyright strikes – we have a duty to protect them from the creators who signed with us."
Do YouTubers need to pay?
Leonard J. French is a United States-based copyright attorney who is also a YouTuber with over 100,000 subscribers.
He told the BBC that the question being asked by online commentators is whether YouTubers should pay or whether their video fits within the legal principle known as fair use.
"It's very possible that MxR Plays isn't making fair use," he said. "But my fellow lawyers and I don't really know how a judge or jury would find out if it went to a trial because fair use is such a thorough analysis.
"That's right on the line. Did this channel make enough additional comments or criticisms to overcome obstacles to fair use, or did they just republish the original material without adding enough transformative content to make it new material?
"That's the difference between no damage and massive damage with nothing in between."
He said that according to US copyright law (specifically 17 U.S.C. section 106-7), there are four points that need to be addressed to see if something qualifies as fair use or not.
How to tell if your video can be considered fair use, according to Leonard J. French
- The copyrighted portion of the video has been transformed into something new, such as comments or criticism.
- Original copyrighted work is not being used for profit, not commercial purposes
- A very small proportion of the original copyrighted work was used (as a single frame of a video), with more original content added.
- Video has not usurped the market – which means people no longer have to watch the original
Leonard said that while $ 6,000 may seem like a lot, it could be much more if the matter were brought to court.
"As a copyright lawyer working in this field," he said, "I can say this is a normal demand and may even be a reasonable one.
"But there are different ways to calculate damages in the US. If Jukin Media registered the copyright before making this claim, they could receive damages of up to $ 150,000 in court.
"If they have not registered the copyright, they can only claim actual damages, which is the original fee for using the video ($ 49 / £ 37) plus attorney fees.
"Legally, it's okay to make a $ 1,500 demand, but it seems morally outrageous to look for such a channel for so much money for video."