February 5, 2016
The Fine Brothers will not be expanding their empire of “React” videos after all, at least not at the expense of fan content creators. The popular comedy duo is reversing its plans to grant licensing to YouTube creators making their own “React” videos after their channel lost 300,000 subscribers in less than a week. Many fans resented the idea of the Fine Brothers’ ownership of an entire genre of videos that has existed long before the brothers’ popular YouTube channel.
Benny and Rafi Fine apologized to their fans in a Medium post earlier this week. “We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that,” they wrote.
The Fine Brothers said they will rescind all of their “React” trademarks and applications for trademarks, cancel plans for the “React World” channel, and release all past Content ID claims. Content ID claims are flags that identify video that looks or sounds like copyrighted material.
Originally, the Fine Brothers had planned to trademark their “React” video brands, from “Kids React” to “Try Not to Smile or Laugh.” They already own the “Elders React” and “Teens React” trademarks. Then they would grant licenses to content creators to make their own “React” videos, complete with the graphics and production guidance. The Fan Brothers would be able to monetize those fan-produced videos by releasing them on the “React World” YouTube channel.
YouTube users were incredulous, according to Variety. Ryan P. Morrison, a video-game attorney, said he was supporting a group of content creators pro bono in opposition to the matter. “[The Fine Brothers] didn’t come up with the idea of filming funny reactions from kids. And they certainly don’t own an entire genre of YouTube videos. It wasn’t their idea, and it’s not theirs to own or police.”