Update #2 [Tue 8th Nov, 2022 13:30 GMT]: Lady Decade has deleted all of her tweets back to October, a move which also takes her previous statement (see below) offline.
Update #1 [Fri 14th Oct, 2022 18:40 BST]: Lady Decade issued a statement on Twitter, which has now been deleted.
However, you can find a screen grab of the text below:
We approached Martin McNeil for comment in the light of this Twitter post, and he has given us the following statement:
I stand by the statements of fact that I have made in the video that I published on October 7 of 2022; I respect that the legal advice given to Mrs. and Mr. Varty in relation to the same facts appears to have resulted in an opinion that diverges from my own. Setting that point aside, I remain confident of my position and, equally, am of the opinion that a full and proper resolution of this matter - one that addresses all facts and circumstances beginning on April 4 of 2021 through to the present - is still achievable in a cordial fashion without resorting to a formal adversarial position.
Original Story [Tue 11th Oct, 2022 14:30 BST]: Recently, law student and former professional photographer Martin McNeil posted a video to his YouTube channel discussing a recent dispute between himself and two prominent British retro gaming YouTubers, husband and wife duo Top Hat Gaming Man (121k subs) and Lady Decade (83k subs) – also known as Richard and Kloe Varty.
"Following a lot of speculation and requests for comments in relation to that video about me which was published on August 6 of this year, I now find myself in a situation where I have little choice but to talk about some of the facts and circumstances preceding that video and, more importantly, a few things that have happened since," McNeil's video description reads.
A brief timeline of events goes like this; an image of the late, great Ray Harryhausen taken by McNeil when he was a commercial photographer was used in Top Hat Gaming Man's video on Sega's Altered Beast, published on April 4th. Alerted to this legitimate infringement of his copyright, McNeil got in touch asking for a retrospective fee to be paid for the image's use – just over £470. He also issued a DMCA takedown notice on The Top Hat Gaming Man channel via YouTube, explaining that his previous attempts to reason with copyright infringers seldom bore results.
Rather than pay the fee, Top Hat Gaming Man's wife - Lady Decade - published a tearful video on August 5th entitled "I'm scared" (the video is now set to private). In the video, she alluded to threatening correspondence from McNeil but doesn't refer to him directly, and gives the impression that stern legal action was about to be taken and her (and her family's) livelihood was at risk.
Discord conversations – which have since been leaked online – show the aftermath:
The highly emotive video triggered a predictable reaction online; McNeil was accused of being a 'copyright troll' and suffered threats and abuse, and "at least" two instances where his home address was 'doxxed' (he has passed the details onto the police who are investigating). McNeil, for his part, remained silent during this time, explaining in his recent video that, given that a legal dispute was active, keeping quiet is the best course of action.
On August 11th, McNeil received a letter from Richard Varty saying that he was happy to pay the fee originally asked for, but McNeil refused as he felt the situation had escalated since the original copyright claim was made, mainly via the accusations made in Lady Decade's video on August 5th.
Lines of communication were opened up between McNeil and Varty's solicitor, the latter of which asked the former for bank details regarding what McNeil assumed was a potential settlement. When the original fee of just over £470 was paid into McNeil's account, he tried to return it but got no reply; he has since made a donation of the same amount to Clacton Food Bank in the Varty's name.
The reaction within the retro gaming community has been, at times, somewhat exploisive. Kim Justice, another notable British retro gaming YouTuber, issued the following statement on September 5th:
On October 14th, Kim posted the following video appealing to the Vartys to make a statement on the matter:
As of now, McNeil still considers this an ongoing issue, and neither Top Hat Gaming Man's wife or Lady Decade have referenced the issue since his video went live. The talent agency that represented them at the time the Alterest Beast video went live, Colossal Influence, has removed both of them from its roster, but we've been informed this is due to them moving to another agency.
We reached out to both parties in this matter the moment this piece was published. McNeil has told us that he has nothing else to add to this "fairly accurate summary", but we've yet to hear back from the Vartys. If they get in touch, we will of course update this piece.
Loved the original Jason And The Argonauts
My latest video on the subject, another bombing run on the narrative shaping perpetuated by LD and THGM, can be found here:
@Gerald yes mate me too it is one of my favourite films ! here some up to date news on the situation discussed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI07aNPX_7s
Just the daily dose of people believing internet clout is worth anything in the real world (it isn’t)
In a former job, I was responsible for media licensing - making sure videos, photos, music, and other creative products were properly licensed before distribution to clients or use in television broadcasts and online videos. So yeah, I cringe a lot when I see the rampant abuse of copyright that many content creators engage in every day, and generally get away with.
I imagine some of my favorite YouTube channels are one lawsuit away from being shut down forever. I stopped watching Lady Decade after the "crying video" mentioned above, because I could tell that she and THGM had made a mistake but were refusing to accept accountability.
Bottom line: artists, photographers, videographers, musicians, and other creators are entitled to be paid for the use of their content. "Fair use" is a doctrine, not a legal defense.
I’ve just watched that video from Martin McNeil, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how composed, well articulated and researched it was. Not something you see that often on YouTube.
I wasn’t aware of any of this situation until now, and haven’t seen the original video from THGM or the response video from LD, but I must say it’s the final nudge I needed to unsubscribe from their channels. It’s not the greatest content on YouTube but their response was uncalled for.
Internet people need to understand that you can’t just use people’s or company’s copyrighted material as you please, regardless of your opinion. You need to follow the law just like everybody else.
It is nice to finally hear the details.
From the bit I had gathered from the content creators, it was over a picture of the person who was complaining; I did not realize that it was a picture taken by the person making the claim.
I am glad I never fully watched the video about the situation.
That all being said, I do like watching videos about obscure consoles, especially ones that never made it to North America. Any suggestions for other creators I might want to check out?
Didn't even know there was any kind of controversy surrounding them.
Not really interested in any of the "drama," as that is for the lawyers to have fun with.
However... if they did indeed take money from The Quartering — for any reason, even a seemingly benevolent one — I am morally obliged to unsubscribe. Immediately and without hesitation.
@mike_intv Kim justice who is mentioned here is a retro YouTuber, has loads of stuff, particularly from microcomputer, Amiga and 16 bit eras, including in depth looks at individual game series, publishers or systems, also does some.stuff on wrestling if you happen to be into that.
The retro hour is a podcast rather than a video but they have loads of episodes out and tend to take the format of the start being news updates and other bits and the second half being an interview with someone from the industry back in the day, they have had some really interesting guests on.
In the USA there's the likes of metal Jesus as well though he seems big enough that I suppose you would already have heard of him? There's a few people who appear on his channel that have their own YouTubes too, Kelsey does (or at least did, I'm not sure when she last posted) some stuff on obscure consoles and games.
(i put this comment on the kim justice viedo but sure, let's put it here, why not)
both top hat and lady decade's videos seem to steal from all over the internet- text (mostly wikipedia), images, videos, translations- with attribution never in the videos themselves, hidden in the description so to the common viewer it sounds like they've done it all themselves. and even then they're full of near-comical errors. it was only a matter of time before they stole from the wrong person. why the rest of this scene put up with their antics for this long is a true riddle of the sphynx.
speaking as an outsider of the uk retro gaming youtube scene whose work has been ripped off by top hat gaming man in the past, i can only hope this incident gives everyone in the community pause for thought on properly crediting and sourcing the information and resources that make their content even possible. there's nothing more defeating than finding out some youtuber has stolen your work wholesale for profit (and let's face it, with these two that's what it was all about) and it's even more defeating to find out they wear a stupid hat while they do it.
@Fluff86 When I watched LD, it was usually to hear about obscure Euro-only consoles or to hear a Euro-centric take on a system.
I did not realize — though I am not surprised — that the information presented was not always original content.
Finally, I am familar with the American You-Tubers you noted and have watched them and in some cases subscribed.
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