Hey there! Sorry this is going to be a long, long post. Long story short, I’m 21 years old and have (sorta) no clue what I’m doing. I’ll explain the situation below.
My former employers are taking me to small claims for around $5k in Massachusetts. I’ll lay out all the details and timeline.
I used to work for a music media company. We had a YouTube around 500,000 subscribers or so.
I worked with them since 2017-Sept 2021, and majority of those months I worked without contract (I worked in good faith, they paid me, still filed taxes and everything, just under no contract). My last official contract expired in May 2021.
In July/August 2021, my bosses consulted a YouTube guru guy. Per his advice, they instructed me to create a secondary YouTube channel and then we put our YouTube #shorts content on there (videos under a minute), left our main channel for interviews and long format stuff.
These short videos on our secondary YouTube account were then embedded (through Wordpress hyperlinks) on the outlet’s main website.
In September 2021, bosses fired 3 of us who were working there. Bosses never asked for the login to the secondary YouTube channel or any of it be removed, and so i just left all of the old content online.
Several days after our time at the old company, my coworker registered a new site we all worked on together.
They filed copyright claim in October and had the old channel deleted.
Now, fast forward to June 2022, old bosses are suing me claiming they paid me to make the #shorts for our website and are accusing me of putting it on my own YouTube and website.
In reality this couldn’t be FURTHER from the truth. These #shorts were embedded on their site and on the secondary youtube account they TOLD ME TO MAKE. The site we made AFTER our time with them, never featured any of the content that was for the outlet we previously worked for.
I have some good evidence I hope, just like screenshots of the old embeds on the original website, although the videos have now been removed from YouTube. My 2 coworkers can testify for Me. I have a meeting note screenshot document that said we were making a secondary channel.
I just DONT have video evidence of my bosses telling me to make the channel, since they removed my access to our archives.
What the hell do I do? Am I gonna win this? I truthfully didn’t do anything wrong and I really would love to counter sue or something but I need to make sure I win this first. Get a lawyer? How do I present this evidence? What do I say? What if they lie in court about something, or fabricate documents? They’re clearly sleazy so I’m expecting the worst. I filed a Small Claims Answer already with 20 pages of evidence and full explanation.. thank you so much.
1 Answer from Attorneys
There is no up-side for you in this case, so you either settle or let the small claims judge sort it out. For these kind of stakes, you would rapidly pay more in legal fees than the case is worth if you lose. Be sure to bring those co-workers who are willing to testify for you, as that will improve your credibility. Aside, if the claim against you is for copyright infringement (or anything that could properly be brought that way), the exclusive venue is federal court, and the state court should dismiss the case. You don't say what the $5k claim of damages is supposed to be for...