The internet and gaming community alike are not very fond of The Fine Brothers’ attempt to trademark “React” videos and start their own licensed distribution network for “React” video content. The backlash has been paramount and many content creators and users alike are not pleased. This has even resulted in their subscriber base dropping by tens of thousands over the course of days.
Things started with a video that the Fine Brothers, Bnny Fine and Rafi Fine, posted on YouTube explaining the idea of having licensed “React” videos that would work under their umbrella corporation for content made available around the globe.
The video has been received with a lot of negativity for some very common sense reasons. First of all, a lot of YouTubers and content creators make “React” videos: people reacting to movies, people reacting to reactions, people reacting to games, commercials, etc., etc., etc. Allowing The Fine Brothers Entertainment conglomerate take hold of “React” videos would most certainly make them an extremely powerful entity in media entertainment, but it would also force a lot of other content creators to become subject to the whims of the Fine Brothers’ legal team if said creators decide to make “React” style videos that aren’t licensed by FBE. This instantly had a lot of viewers negatively reacting to the video posted above, as evidenced with the dislike ratio in the image below.
Speaking of licensing and fees… there are no upfront fees. The Fine Bros., take a cut from the revenue after the videos are uploaded. Essentially it’s no different than when a third-party notice is sent in the e-mail by YouTube letting you know that some license holder is going to start making ad revenue (or putting ads) on your videos.
The pitch is basically that they would become a global licensing empire, making money just by allowing people to use their registered brands for various kinds of “React” content. It’s identical to how most multi-channel networks are setup and operate on YouTube at the moment, doing little more than promoting and facilitating the control of created content.
A tweet from Spudgunjay shows the exact phrases and words that the Fine Bros., want to trademark.
— Jaymz Coppersthwaite (@spudgunjay) January 31, 2016
YouTube content creator Hank Green wrote a piece on Medium explaining how there’s a large negative reaction to the Fine Brothers’ announcement, but opts to take a wait and see approach, writing…
“But the question becomes…what are the Fines going to do with their trademark if they get it? Certainly they won’t take down every video on YouTube with the word “React” in it. I’m sure they would take down videos with “Kids React” in them, but what about something that takes the form of their show and title but adds in a new element like “Dogs React” or “Bros React.”
“Would they take that down? How close does it have to be to infringe? Would they need to take videos down in order to protect their trademark? It likely depends on which lawyer they asked because, as I said before, no one really understands trademark.”
While Green takes a cautious but optimistic approach to the situation, YouTuber 8-Bit Eric has already been on the receiving end of a copyright banhammer.
The important nugget to take away in the video above is 8-Bit Eric’s explanation on why the “React” videos he used to do on the channel are no longer being posted, saying…
“A few months ago I was hit with some content ID matches [and] some copyright strikes from Full Screen. Now if you don’t know what Full Screen is, they are a YouTube network that the Fine Brothers are actually a part of.”
So to address Green’s question: would they take it down? Yes… yes they would.
Unsurprisingly, AlphaOmegaSin had a video up completely ripping into the Fine Brothers’ attempt to take control of the whole “Reaction” culture that permeates YouTube’s constantly growing library of video content. Of course, the video’s language below is not safe for work so if you have it turned up high you better hope that your boss is a-okay with BS bombs and f-nukes.
A more verbally sanitized version of a similar perspective from ReviewTechUSA also covers the topic, but adds in additional evidence showcasing that this is something that the Fine Brothers plan on enforcing even against larger entertainment mediums and entities, such as going after the Ellen DeGeneres show.
According to a Facebook post the Fine Brothers requested their fans to spam links to the Ellen show to let them know that they are the ones who control “React” content. The original tweet, however, actually went out back in September, 2014.
If it is, a shame to not have @thellenshow reach out to us vs. just fully taking it as their own. This happens too often.
— thefinebros (@thefinebros) September 19, 2014
It’s understandable that a lot of content creators and users are fearful about “React World” given that the Fine Brothers have shown in the past that they are willing to go after other content creators either to take a cut of the revenue or prevent their content from being broadcast on a public platform like YouTube for doing little more than mimicking a format similar to their content.
The very negative reactions to the YouTube giant isn’t just some isolated incident, either. According to TenEightyMagazine the announcement from the duo cost the Fine Brothers just shy of 100,000 subscribers in just under three days. We’ll see if they can weather the storm and ride out the subscription drops while they attempt to pursue this new business endeavor.
Over on Kotaku in Action there’s a link to an old video from 2013 from YouTuber psychicpebbles taking a very pointed, NSFW jab at the Fine Brothers that still seems somewhat relevant for the topic at hand today.