- YouTube star PewDiePie and Indian record label T-Series duked it out for months earlier this year to become the most-subscribed YouTube channel. T-Series won and has more than 100 million subscribers.
- But behind the scenes, the pair were fighting a legal battle in Delhi’s High Court over "diss tracks" released by PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, which mocked T-Series.
- The two diss tracks have been blocked in India since a court order in April. A judge described them as "abusive, vulgar, and racist."
- A July filing seen by Business Insider shows the two have now agreed to settle the case, although both videos remain blocked in India.
- T-Series president Neeraj Kalyan said he has no hard feelings towards PewDiePie. "He’s great. We wish him all the best," he said.
- Read Business Insider’s full interview with T-Series president Neeraj Kalyan on BI Prime.
YouTube star PewDiePie and Indian music label T-Series have quietly settled a months-long court fight, which took place as the pair duked it out to become the most-subscribed YouTube channel on the planet.
T-Series became the most popular YouTube channel in March 2019, knocking PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) off the top spot. It now has 108 million subscribers, while PewDiePie has 98 million.
The competition generated huge interest both from Kjellberg’s online fanbase as well as the wider media, in part because T-Series exclusively posts Indian music videos and is little known to a Western internet audience.
UK-based Kjellberg, who is 29 years old and the highest-paid star on YouTube, rose to fame by posting footage of himself playing video games with humorous commentary, which evolved into arcane, insider references. He has attracted negative press thanks to some tasteless pranks and borderline commentary, including paying a couple of freelancers on Fiverr to hold up a sign reading: "Death to all Jews."
That edgy humour spilt over into the fight with T-Series, with Kjellberg releasing two "diss" videos mocking the Indian firm as the two channels fought it out for the top spot. The first, published on YouTube last October and called "Bitch Lasagna," referenced online tropes about Indian users, including the way they misspell words in English. It also appeared to mock Hindi as "mumble rap," among other insults.
Will Martin/Business Insider
After T-Series took the lead, PewDiePie released a second video in late March called "Congratulations," ostensibly congratulating his rival. That video appeared to reference legal action by T-Series: "I got a letter in the post, hmm, what is this? T-Series saying ‘Cease and desist.’"
T-Series successfully had both videos blocked in India eight days later, after obtaining an injunction from Delhi’s High Court. The judge found both videos to be "abusive, vulgar and also racist in nature," according to an 8 April filing. Both videos were taken down from YouTube in India.
But according to a subsequent July filing seen by Business Insider, the pair have come to a settlement over the videos. The 15 July filing states the two have settled, but haven’t signed an agreement. T-Series did not respond to a request for further detail.
At the time of writing, both of PewDiePie’s videos, "Congratulations" and "Bitch Lasagna", remain blocked in India.
T-Series’ Kalyan told Business Insider that he has no hard feelings towards PewDiePie. "He’s great. We wish him all the best — the kinds of things he does, we’re not into that. It’s a different audience altogether," he said.
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