Podcaster Ethan Klein, his H3 Podcast, and his wife Hila Klein's Teddy Fresh business are being sued for the third time, this time by movie producer and co-founder of Triller Ryan Kavanaugh who alleges that Klein has engaged in multiple forms of defamation against him over the past several months.
The new lawsuit is a follow-up to the copyright infringement lawsuit that Triller filed again the H3 Podcast over the summer, which alleges that Ethan Klein pirated the Jake Paul/Ben Askren fight and rebroadcast it to his fans. Following that filing, Klein began making public digs at Kavanaugh on his podcasts and Twitter accounts, leading to Kavanaugh becoming a running joke among H3 Podcast fans. Now Kavanaugh is coming after H3 Podcast and both of the Klein's for allegedly defaming him.
Kavanaugh's accusations against Ethan Klein
Kavanaugh explained the reasons for his defamation lawsuit in an article he posted on Tuesday, ominously titled "The Dark Side of the Power of Social Media." Kavanaugh explained claimed that Klein:
- Promoted false claims and implications about him, including promoting articles alleging that he was accused by a former business partner of a ponzi scheme, that he failed to pay a babysitter after prematurely ending his contract with her, and that he has faced multiple DUI allegations in the past
- Implied that Ryan Kavanaugh looks like Harvey Weinstein, including making a website called https://doesryankavanaughlooklikeharveyweinstein.com/.
- Posted 8 podcasts disparaging Kavanaugh
- Bought paid internet traffic to harass Kavanaugh's social media channels
- Optimized SEO results to promote unsavory stories about Kavanaugh
- Encouraged his audience to post negative ratings on Triller
- Hired multiple Wikipedia editors to ruin Kavanaugh’s page
- Created a Reddit thread to discuss harming Kavanaugh
"All of this amounts to textbook malicious behavior, intended to harm me and Triller. This leaves me with no choice but to sue." Kavanaugh concluded. "One malignant internet personality with a large following - the equivalent of an angry child with a loaded gun - can cause disproportionate harm to anyone, using lies, slander, and SEO, and suffer few if any consequences."
The complaint itself lists numerous examples of Klein engaging in mocking behavior toward Kavanaugh online, including times when Klein allegedly implied that Kavanaugh looks like Harvey Weinstein and prominently displayed a withdrawn Variety headline on his podcast that alleged Kavanaugh was accused of running a Ponzi scheme by a former business partner. According to the update in that Variety article, Kavanaugh and his former partner Elon Spar resolved their issue out of court and Spar withdrew his claims, with both parties claiming that they submitted the complaints that the article referred to "by accident."
In addition to seeking damages against H3 and the Kleins, Kavanaugh also has stated his intention to get the H3 Podcast channel removed from YouTube altogether.
Ethan Klein responds to Ryan Kavanaugh's allegations
Klein released a three-hour episode of H3's Off The Rails show on Wednesday, in which he responded to the lawsuit live, and denied all the claims made against him, addressing each one in turn. He also issued a statement to Philip DeFranco, further clarifying his position.
"Ryan Kavanaugh's first malicious lie is that he claims I pirated his event," Klein told DeFranco. "Fair use is at the heart of this lawsuit, same as with our first lawsuit. We used a short clip of the event during an extremely critical commentary during a 3-hour podcast. Ryan Kavanaugh tried to blame me for his event being widely pirated which is pure defamation. We didn't even react to the event until days after it was streamed on PPV."
In regards to the allegations of false claims, Klein argued that he is only quoting headlines from sources like Variety, NY Times, Fox San Diego, and Vanity Fair. He also claimed that he did make it clear on multiple occasions that the statement in the Variety article specifically was retracted by Spar.
"Is me reading headline defamation? Absolutely not." Klein said on his podcast. "This is legal harassment. [Kavanaugh] doesn't like me talking about the things he has done. I am not creating these claims out of thin air, this is a bad dude, it's well documented, and it's all been published by huge . . . media companies. If you have a problem with what they are saying, take it up with them, not me."
Klein jokingly danced around the claim that he compared Kavanaugh's appearance to Weinstein's, something that has been a running meme in the H3 community since July. Klein completely denied paying for traffic to harass, write bad reviews, or edit the Wikipedia page for Kavanaugh. He further denied creating a thread to discuss harming the movie producer, or in any way encouraging his fans to bother him and reiterating to fans that they should not harass anyone mentioned on the H3 Podcast.
In his statement to DeFranco, Klein also criticized the lawsuit for naming his wife's business Teddy Fresh, arguing that her work in completely unrelated to the claims in the lawsuit and calling it targeted harassment.
On the podcast, Klein also showed an alleged threatening DM that Kavanaugh sent him in July, in which Kavanaugh called Klein "unhappy and disturbed" and claimed that Klein spent thousands of dollars on fake accounts to harass him with and also used thousands of bots to write negative reviews on the Triller app. Klein once again denied ever paying for traffic to bother Kavanaugh.
Klein made it clear that he and H3 Podcast intend to fight the charges listed in Kavaunaugh's complaint, calling it a free speech issue, and framing the situation as an elite Hollywood business tycoon suing to shut down people who are critical of him.
Ethan and Hila Klein are well known for their moral stands on free speech and fair use issues, having previously won a landmark lawsuit for fair use against Matt Hosseinzadeh in 2017. In that case, Hosseinzadeh claimed that h3h3's reaction to his video violated his copyright on the video they were reacting to. The Kleins won that case, which has been hailed across the online video production industry as a win for creators.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.