Storytime videos are perhaps some of the most clickbaity content on YouTube. The initial concept was simple: A YouTuber sits in front of the camera and recounts a sad or crazy story that’s happened to them. But as the genre took off, creators one-upped each other to the point that “STORYTIME: I WAS KIDNAPPED?” and “STORYTIME: MY PSYCHO STALKER” are some of the most common titles, and it’s generally understood that the stories are exaggerated or only loosely inspired by real events. But it wasn’t until this week that a creator was allegedly caught lifting an entire story from another YouTuber. 

HeyParis may have 700,000 subscribers, but she’s nowhere near Mar, who has over two million subscribers on her English-speaking channel and over 13 million subscribers on her Spanish channel. That’s why Paris was so shocked when viewers alerted her that one of her old storytime videos, “STORY TIME: SEPHORA EMPLOYEE RUINS WEDDING,” was retold almost word-for-word in one of Mar’s recent, now-deleted videos. 

“We never had a conversation, she never emailed me, never DMed me. She’s not even following me on Instagram, Twitter, [and is] not subscribed to me on YouTube,” Paris says in her video first addressing the controversy. “But for some reason this person felt comfortable to literally steal my content, monetize it, and make revenue, make money, from my story and my experience.”

In her own response video, Mar says she always gave credit to Paris in the description of the video. Paris says the credit was only added after Mar was called out. This back and forth could and may continue ad nauseum, with both creators standing their ground. But Mar’s decision to tell other people’s stories, while poorly executed, kind of makes sense for the future of the genre. 

“I love storytimes. I think they’re the best,” Mar said in a recent YouTube Story. “My idea was to also include you guys so you can send me your stories and I can tell them and that way it can be more of a community.” 

A story is only as good as the person telling it, which is why millions of viewers have gamely tuned into storytimes from their favorite creators they’re aware may not be exactly true. As long as permission and clear and proper credit is actually given, aggregated storytimes are a clever workaround for a creator who has already rung themselves dry for content. What’s not so clever is taking those stories from a smaller, less popular creator.