YouTube sensation Ray William Johnson and Maker Studios are in the middle of an ugly, heated fight.Johnson says he wants out of his contract with Maker Studios, but the company isn’t allowing it.
Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin presents a slightly different story in a note to employees today, obtained by Peter Kafka of AllThingsD.
“What I can say is that we continue to honour our obligations. Ray receives everything that is owed to him. He has full transparency into his earnings, as does every single talent in the Maker Network. He receives exactly what his channels earn under the terms of our deal.
The whole mess started when Johnson signed his YouTube channel over to Maker Studios two years ago. Johnson says he was initially happy with his decision but eventually became sceptical after Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin confessed to him that he was a convicted felon.
“I’m not sure as to why he confessed to having an alleged criminal record, but this is not something I was informed of prior to signing with them, and it may have influenced my decision had I known beforehand,” Johnson wrote in a recent post on New Media Rockstars.
About six months after that, Zappin told Johnson that the studio wanted to take a bigger revenue cut from Johnson’s show “Equals Three,” and asked Johnson to renegotiate his contract eight months before its expiration.
Johnson reluctantly agreed, but when Maker Studios presented him with the new contract, Johnson refused because “the terms were incredibly aggressive.”
Maker Studios was asking for 40% of Johnson’s AdSense revenue post-production costs and 50% of the show’s intellectual property.
Johnson says he and the executives at Maker Studios went back and forth for three weeks trying to negotiate. Because Johnson ultimately wouldn’t sign anything, Maker Studios shut down production on one of his albums and his “Equals Three” show.
According to Johnson, Maker Studios released a factually incorrect statement to the press in an attempt to make him look bad. After the statement went public, Johnson met with the Maker Studios executives, in which Zappin apparently said that the company would give Johnson’s channel and AdSense account back to him.
But that hasn’t happened yet.
Johnson and Zappin have since taken their ongoing battle to social networks.
Earlier this week, Johnson posted to Instagram a text from Zappin.
It read, “You’re lack of integrity and character are sad. F*** you. Prepare for war…b****.”