Comedian Owen Benjamin, not to be confused with YouTuber Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), was kicked off Patreon last year. His supporters on Patreon were not pleased and used a provision of Patreon’s terms of service to demand arbitration for their complaints. This provision required Patreon to front the arbitration fees.
Patreon’s terms included language that allowed any users of the plaltform to litigate their case individually under California’s JAMS arbitration scheme.
Under California law, Patreon would have to pay the arbitration fees up front, as each user would have to be dealt with on a one to one basis. These fees range from a few thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars per case. It is unclear how many users intended to sue the platform.
Patreon sued these users, after having changed their terms of service to forbid what the users did. Patreon lost and will have to abide by their original terms. The judge noted that
…their changes of the Terms of Service was tantamount to them changing the rules “in the middle of the game.”
This couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.
Patreon will now have to go through arbitration with each of the fans, and will not be able to recoup any of the fees, even if they win the individual cases.
These fees are estimated to be in the tens of millions. This story, from which the quotes above were taken, spells out the details. As Dave Rubin tweeted, “Adios Patreon.”
This is a good day. Savor these victories; they are few and far between.