Responding to Hbomberguy’s Plagiarism Video

On December 2, prominent YouTuber hbomberguy posted a massive 3-hour, 51-minute video to YouTube simply entitled Plagiarism and You(Tube)

In just a few days, the video has received over 4.5 million views and has reignited the conversation about plagiarism on YouTube as well as drawn attention to several other prominent YouTubers and allegations of plagiarism made against them.

If you haven’t seen the video, you can do so here. 

The plurality of the video looks at allegations of plagiarism against YouTuber James Somerton. 

Somerton is a film critic who explores gay, trans and related issues in cinema. However, as hbomberguy’s video points out, many of his videos are riddled with plagiarism, often reading verbatim or near-verbatim from articles, books and other videos, much of it made by other LGBTQ+ creators. 

However, the video also took a look at the broader issue of plagiarism on YouTube and called out several other cases, including some I’ve covered here before and others I haven’t, in an attempt to frame how serious this issue is.

As such, I wanted to do an in-depth response to the video and, hopefully, record a video on it later today or tomorrow. However, before I begin, I did want to say that, overall, I found hbomberguy’s views on plagiarism reasonable and his accusations well proven with provided evidence. If this were a Plagiarism in Pop Culture episode, I would generally be happy. 

That said, there are a few things I feel he could have explained better, and a few minor expansions and adjustments that I would like to highlight. To that end, I’m going to take the video roughly in order it presented so, if you choose, you can follow along.

Filip Miucin 

Filip Miucin

The video begins looking back at two cases from relatively recent YouTube history. The first was Filip Miucin, a disgraced video game reviewer who fell into a massive plagiarism scandal in August 2018. 

As I reported then, he was accused of plagiarizing his video review for the game Dead Cells while he was working at IGN. However, as other allegations began to pile up, he was eventually fired from IGN and disappeared from YouTube. He reemerged in April 2019 with an unsuccessful apology video and attempted to stage another comeback in July 2020, which also failed. 

Hbomberguy’s coverage of the story is, overall, very good and included some information that was new to even me. However, one thing he said that stood out was that Miucin attempted to justify his plagiarism by saying he pulled from people he respected. 

Hbomberguy responded by saying that Miucin clearly didn’t respect the people he copied and, citing the Melania Trump plagiarism story as an example, indicated that plagiarists target people they don’t respect.

While I agree with him that plagiarists do tend to use more work from people they lack respect for, I would stop short of saying it’s because they are targeting that group. Plagiarism, almost always, is a crime of convenience. Plagiarists are interested only in what is easiest to find and what they think they can get away with. Respect or lack thereof may be a thumb on the scale, but it’s far from the main factor.

Plenty of plagiarists do pull from people that they respect, but only if they feel confident no one else will notice. 

So, while I agree with the core principle that Miucin’s plagiarism is not an indication of respect, I don’t think he went out of the way to target people he didn’t respect either. He was just copying what he found and what he thought he could get away with.

This was a theme repeated in other parts of the video, as sources were easy to find because they were often first or second in the search results. Something that is very common when researching plagiarism cases.

James Rolfe/Cinemasscre 

Another story I previously covered, in October 2021, James Rolfe, better known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, faced allegations of plagiarism in his long-running Halloween series Monster Madness.

However, it quickly became apparent Rolfe did not write the script at issue. Instead, it was written by an employee at Screenwave, a multichannel network that provides editing and writing support to YouTubers. Screenwave was already a hated name among fans of Cinemassacre for the changes it brought about on the channel, and this only threw gasoline on that fire.

Once again, hbomberguy’s coverage of the story was good and provided updated information that came out after my article went live, such as the identity of the author and the discovery of additional plagiarism.

However, what stood out to me here was his focus on how bad the writing was. The plagiarist, identified as Newt Wallen, attempted to rewrite many of the copied passages and, in doing so, both failed to hide the copying and made the writing much, much worse. 

To be honest, I was thrilled with this line of thinking. It’s an excellent point that almost no one, myself included, gives adequate attention to. As we saw in the Jumi Bello case, many writers do attempt to rewrite copied passages to “make it their own” but this never works. It’s just not how original writing is done.

However, it’s also not how good writing is done either. This is one of the reasons that AI struggles to create truly great writing. It can only rearrange and combine things it’s been trained on, it can never start from a clean slate.

This is definitely something I’ll be focusing on later, but it’s an excellent point that I wanted to highlight.


Here is where we begin to get to the meat of the video as he begins to talk about illuminaughtii, a YouTuber who publishes a variety of documentaries and someone I was fully unaware of until this video.

The allegations against her are fairly straightforward. She produced a large volume of documentaries but, in doing so, often times leans too heavily on its source material, often quoting it directly and using footage directly from other documentaries without clear attribution.

Iilluminaughtii has faced allegations of plagiarism in the past but has typically waived them off, saying that she cites her sources in notes attached to the video. However, that citation is often just a link in a document on Pastebin with no other information and no indication of what is and is not quoted. She also routinely blurs out on attribution when reusing other sources’ footage.

Hbomberguy, rightly, dismisses her claims of citation. However, I don’t think he fully explained why. 

The reason is actually fairly straightforward. When you use other people’s work, you typically have to cite two separate things: The idea/information and the expression of that idea, in this case the words themselves.

To be clear, the standard of citation, including what requires citation and how to cite it, changes depending on the type of media and the audience. For example, the citation standards in an academic paper are different from an informal letter to a friend.

However, in pretty much all cases, one is expected to cite both the idea/information and the expression. If you don’t use any of the expression, such as with proper paraphrasing, you only have to cite the information. However, that’s not the case with Iilluminaughtii.

Even if I agree that the Pastebin link list is adequate citation for the information, which both I and hbomberguy don’t agree with, there’s no citation for the expression of the information. There’s no clear indication of what parts are quotes (or near quotes), no indication when specific footage is used and so on.

So, even if the community decides that approach is adequate citation for information, it doesn’t answer the second half of the question. Thus, I agree with hbomberguy’s conclusion, that it is plagiarism. 

Another part of the Iilluminaughtii story was her “battle” with the YouTube channel Legal Eagle. She called out of the channel for plagiarizing her after their editor reached out to her about how to do a particular effect.

Hbomberguy noted that this was an extreme overreaction to something that’s both common and not seen as plagiarism. Other allegations were simply common style choices used by many different videos. He also juxtaposed that reaction to Iilluminaughtii’s heavy-handed and unattributed use of other people’s work.

To this point, I want to expand on this behavior because it is something that I have definitely seen before and repeatedly. People who commit plagiarism are obviously, on some level, aware of what they are doing. Even if they don’t think it’s plagiarism per se, they know that they are pushing boundaries could be accused of it, with credibility, any time.

This causes them to get extremely sensitive when they feel that their work is being stolen. Since they aren’t participating in the normal collaborative environment of the space, they look at everything as “original” or “copied” and when something that they feel is original to them is copied, they respond angrily.

While it could be a distraction technique, I doubt that it is. Simply put, connecting yourself with the word plagiarism, even on the accuser side, is very risky if you’re a plagiarist. For a plagiarist, this seems like the opposite of being sneaky and trying to slip in under the radar.

The Internet Historian

The final historical case hbomberguy discussed was The Internet Historian, a YouTuber who makes videos about various historical events. Though I was aware of him as a YouTuber, I had not heard about the allegations of plagiarism and, according to hbomberguy, there’s a good reason for that. 

The Internet Historian posts videos very infrequently. One of his most recent videos, entitled Man in Cave, told the story of a man who got stuck and would later die in a Kentucky Cave.

However, the original video has been taken down following a copyright claim by the company that owns Mental Floss. It turned out that the video lifted formatting, text and more from a July 2018 article on Mental Floss’ site. The plagiarism is fairly obvious when looking at the two side by side.

Unfortunately for plagiarism hounds, the Internet Historian did an excellent job hiding and obfuscating why the video was removed. He led many to believe that it was more ordinary YouTube copyright issues, not allegations of plagiarism. That would only be discovered after others reuploaded the video and were hit with the same copyright claims.

But what made this story unique was that it’s the only one of the creators hbomberguy covered who, to date, only has one known instance of plagiarism. Though he talks elsewhere about how, when you catch a plagiarist, it’s likely that they’ve plagiarized other things in the past and just weren’t caught, there’s no real evaluation of that.

Why was this video so heavily plagiarized? Are there other issues? The video did an amazing job addressing and investigating other YouTubers that are mentioned, it seems strange that this one was dropped here. It’s unclear what investigation hbomberguy did on Internet Historian(other than at least some) and he mentioned he only learned about it through happenstance.

Though hbomberguy did an admirable job covering this video and explaining the plagiarism, I can’t help but feel like there’s more here. Perhaps he’s leaving it for someone else to search through and find.

James Somerton

Oddly enough, this is actually the section of the film that I have the least to say as it focuses less on hbomberguy talking about plagiarism, instead laying the groundwork in the first part, and more about highlighting examples of plagiarism by James Somerton.

Once again, hbomberguy did an impressive job highlighting the plagiarism, making the issues patently obvious and an equally great job showing the depth of the plagiarism itself. Throughout the video, I particularly enjoyed the comparisons and animations used to show both the similarities and differences between the alleged plagiarized works and the source material. 

To that end, hbomberguy makes a very ironclad case for Somerton’s plagiarism. There’s really not much of an argument here. This was especially clear with this image, where he showcased just how much known copying (or near copying) there was in just one of his scripts.

There’s really no ducking this for Somerton and the plagiarism couldn’t be more clear. However, the video did leave one loose thread.

For much of the time he has been posting, Somerton has worked with a cowriter, Nick Herrgott. It was unclear at the time if Nick was aware of the plagiarism, whether he contributed plagiarized material or was simply in the dark.

On several occasions, Somerton said that any attempt to accuse him of plagiarism would be accusing Herrogott of plagiarism, using Herrgott to deflect the issue. Still, it was unclear just how involved Herrogott was.

To be clear, homberguy found not evidence that anything confirmed to be written by Herrgott was plagiarized, but the question was still somewhat open. 

According to a Reddit thread about Somerton’s most recent Patreon post, Nick did publish on Somerton’s Discord, before it was removed, that he was unaware and was shocked to find out about the plagiarism.  This caused many of hbomberguy’s supporters to initially show support for Herrgott.

However, that support waned following a second video, this one by YouTuber Todd in the Shadows, which looks at the factual inaccuracies in Somerton’s work and paints Herrgott’s contributions in a less favorable light. 

If nothing else, this shows how one person’s unethical work can harm the reputation of not just themselves, but everyone around them. 

Still, I really don’t have much else to add to this section, the evidence is well presented, and the conclusions are well-supported. 

Bottom Line

The big question for me is this: What happens now?

The earlier stories are pretty much done. They were used as framing devices by hbomberguy and the fallout from them has already happened. Miucin is no longer making videos and Rolfe is continuing with his channel. 

However, it’s the newer ones that raise the biggest questions. Both Iilluminaughtii and Somerton have turned off all comments on their videos and seem to have largely gone quiet, other than Somerton’s post linked above and a video upload by Iilluminaughtii that is unrelated to the allegations and was likely automated.

Most likely, both of them are simply hoping that this will blow over. They’re likely hoping that if they keep their heads down, not stoke the flames and just bide their time, that they’ll be able to continue, albeit with a diminished audience.

According to Social Blade, IIlluminaughtii has been struggling since April/May of this year, with her subscribers in decline since then and her total video views remaining flat. That is around the time of her spat with Legal Eagle, which led to hbomberguy’s initial claims of plagiarism against her

That said, she is still posting and, by any reasonable metric, is a successful YouTuber. The posting of the hbomberguy video doesn’t seem to have had a drastic impact, at least not yet, and is overshadowed by what happened in the spring.

Somerton, on the other hand, is a different story. According to Social Blade, he has lost 50,000 subscribers as of this writing, just over 16% of his total. The number is also continuing to go down.

The one-two punch hbomberguy and Todd in the Shadow’s videos seems to be having an impact, and that impact is ongoing. 

However, I feel confident that both Iilluminaughtii and Somerton will attempt to either continue their careers or to stage a comeback. Iilluminaughtii’s much higher subscriber count and the fact that her scandal has been going on for months gives her a better chance at survival. However, things can change quickly on YouTube.

In the end, the question isn’t whether they will try to come back or continue, but if the internet lets them. We’ve seen it both ways. Miucin’s failed comeback shows us that, for some, a plagiarism scandal is a one-way ticket out of the spotlight. However, as writer Benny Johnson has shown us, others survive, no matter how many times they are caught.

This is really in the hands of viewers. If they decide that this is serious enough to walk away and not welcome them back, then will stay gone, even if they don’t want to. But if there’s an audience in spite of the allegations, nothing short of copyright strikes can stop them from returning.

That, in turn, raises another question for a different article: What can, and should, the victims do? The answer is both deeply complicated and incredibly simple…

But, it’s a topic for another piece. 

Want to Reuse or Republish this Content?

If you want to feature this article in your site, classroom or elsewhere, just let us know! We usually grant permission within 24 hours.

Click Here to Get Permission for Free