When does YouTube plagiarism cross the line?


A week ago when I published this blog article, it was after seeing YouTube plagiarism hitting all new levels.     What drove my decision to write, was that I saw the post mentioned below – and decided to write.    Why specifically this one?    I know Steve (FlightChops) personally, we have studied together, he has helped me, I have appeared in his vlog before.   I want to be 100% clear – nobody asked me to write this. NOBODY.  I don’t write FOR anyone, I am not a shill, or narcissistic enough to think that I have some kind of internet clout.

This morning I received a message asking if I would take this blog article down from Steve (FlightChops).     I simply won’t do that.  Nothing I have said is incorrect or untrue, and the rest is my personal opinion.   I told him that you can’t turn back the clock, and newspapers don’t print retractions simply because someone doesn’t like the content.

In actuality,  Steve (FlightChops) was not super happy I wrote this BLOG, because it is causing him some problems.   I am stuck in a hard place between a professional acquaintance – and my journalistic integrity.

That being said,  I welcome both Steve (FlightChops) and Steveo1Kinevo to send me their comments and/or statements – and I will post them verbatim here on my blog, or they can feel free to post it anywhere they want, or use the comment section.

The Neistat Effect

There are many YouTubers out there who have literally millions of followers,  PewDiePieCasey Neistat – go ahead and pick one.  There are innovators within the YouTube platform that came up with amazing ways to do things, the “vlogging” format was not invented by Neistat, but he found a way to make it compelling enough to make a living on it.

Is Neistats work still unique?  It is to him – but then you look at the many people that clone or copy his recipe.   Is this plagiarism? No. “a guy who builds a really nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who ever has built a chair”

Then look at someone like Devin Graham of DevinsuperTramp.  Devin and the team at Supertramp built a business out of compelling viral type videos and stunts.

Each has their own unique style, and while there are many that clone, copy or even build videos on “How to VLOG like Casey Neistat” these people are just using his method.

Now let’s look at when it goes TOO far…

When imitation becomes plagiarism

Here is a video posted by “FlightChops”  Steve Thorne who was one of the original YouTubers in the private pilot aviation world.   As he says himself “I basically made a job by sucking”.    This video below posted just over a year ago went accidentally viral.  Steve doesn’t do viral videos, he just does Steve.  4.5 Million Views, his most popular video ever and some pretty cool content.

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 6.06.05 PM

Fast forward a year later and fellow YouTuber steveo1kinevo (Steve Nazer) posts this gem as seen below.  Basically the same screen shot, and nearly the same title.

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 6.06.22 PMDoes this qualify as plagiarism?   Perhaps it even goes as far as to qualify as Trade Dress Infringement.    To explain what that is, Wikipedia states “Trade dress protection is intended to protect consumers from packaging or appearance of products that are designed to imitate other products; to prevent a consumer from buying one product under the belief that it is another”

The issue goes one step further.   Steveo1kinevo also prunes, and blocks any account that posts any form of negative comment about his content.   A number of comments were left calling him out on this plagiarism, but he immediately removed those after he noticed them.     Anyone who posts comments about his flagrant use of the EXACT music tracks that Neistat uses, or his obvious use of a Boosted Board in his videos is immediately filtered.

Justin’s Take

To be clear, I live in Toronto, and I actually know Steve Flightchops,  but that doesn’t change the facts of what I have posted above.    While they say that imitation is the finest forms of flattery, I would say that in this case, it feels more like a case of trade dress infringement is the worst kind of plagiarism.

For Flightchops, this is his livelihood, his career and his art.  For those plagiarizing, it’s “just a youtube channel”.

If it wasn’t so blatantly obvious, and if some attribution to the original work was at least provided, and comments mentioning that someone else did it first and this deserves credit where it is due were not deleted.   It wouldn’t feel so wrong.

On YouTube – Content is king, and many people will run out there and try to cash in on your good fortune.   I just wish people were a little more honest.


2 thoughts on “When does YouTube plagiarism cross the line?

  1. I am somewhat confused by your blog comparing Flightchops and Steveo1Kinevo. A quick search on YouTube shows many videos on tours of B29s and B24s, are they also plageristic? Since some of them are before Flightchops, does that mean he plagiarized? The two videos are vastly different, just like the videos that have been filmed before and after these two. I simply don’t understand why this is even necessary. The Flightchops video was a year ago and has 5.4 million views… how is he harmed? Does this mean that no one should post videos if they have similar content? Why not write that these planes are awesome and deserve every bit of the attention they get…as well as honoring the pilots and crews that flew them, many of which lost their lives to protect our country.


    • I think you missed the point in that case. Every person who makes a chair doesn’t owe money to the first guy that made a chair. Just as Flightchops didn’t copy the design, method, cadence, text, or visuals of any of the other B29 videos. However Steveo1Kinevo did just that. This is not about similar content – this is about exactly the same dressing on similar content.

      Flightchops is damaged because this is probably in my opinion a trade dress violation. Steveo1Kinevo obviously used the same photo, and exact same text, even capitalization and punctuation as FlightChops in order to create confusion and drive traffic towards his content.

      If Steveo1Kinevo took 10 seconds at the beginning, or even in the text to acknowledge where he got the idea – it wouldn’t be so bad, however he didn’t do that, he copied the content, got called out on it, then threaten this blog with legal action, and tried to demand I take it down.


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