A popular Australian cheese YouTuber was accused of violating the intellectual property rights of an Italian cheese consortium for a video he made about how to make a type of cheese.
Gavin Webber is Victorian-based YouTuber who makes cheesemaking videos for his 250,000 subscribers. Beginning every video with the greeting “G’day curd nerds”, Webber — who also goes by ‘the Cheeseman’ — makes videos about how to make cheese, cheese reviews and does Q&As for budding cheesemakers.
And it’s one of those cheesemaking tutorials that landed him in a bit of hot water.
Late last week, Webber received an email from a representative of the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Grana Padano.
They’re the group responsible for production, sales and protection of the intellectual property associated with Grana Padano, a hard, crumbly cheese produced in a region in North Italy. Like Champagne, this type of cheese is protected by EU trade law so that only cheese produced from that region and using a specific process can be designated Grada Padano.
And the email alleged that one of Webber’s videos showed how to “create counterfeited replicas of Grana Padano” (food counterfeiting is a real thing FYI) and gave him 5 days to take down the YouTube video or face further legal action.
As YouTubers are wont to do, Webber responded with outrage to the cease-and-desist letter with another video.
Webber notes that the video in question is for making a derivative, Grana Padano-style cheese — but not a recipe for the cheese itself.
Soon after, the curd nerd army (his words) jumped into action. They showed their support in the comments, downloaded versions of the ‘offending’ videos and uploaded copies elsewhere, and even contacted the consortium.
And just a day later, victory: Webber received a letter from the Director-General of the Grana Padano consortium withdrawing their threat and apologising, noting that the video was reported to them by “our direct superiors at the Ministry and the EU Committee”.
“We had not intervened before because your good faith is clear from your video and we are very sorry to see you and yourt community so angry towards us,” Stefano Berni wrote.
Speaking to Gizmodo, Webber said while he recognises the importance of cheese intellectual property rights, he still felt the response was a bit of a “fake apology”.
“I still feel a bit miffed that they initially accused me of making counterfeit cheese, and only back-pedalled because of the curd nerd army contacted them in droves,” the cheese YouTuber said in a message.
But he’s leaned into the controversy. His latest full video is a review of his Grana Padano-style cheese, titled ‘Chease & Desist Style Cheese with Taste Test. To Italy with Love ????‘.