If you’ve been paying attention at all to social media over the past few days and somehow ignored the meanderings of Trump and his followers, you might have seen more than a few people talking about Fine Brothers Entertainment. The popular YouTube channel that collects and creates all manners of “React” videos tried to pull of what they see as a franchising initiative this weekend, but it stepped into some murky legal water that basically looked like exploitation.
And their fans really didn’t stand for it.
Before getting into that though, just what happened to cause such discomfort amongst YouTube viewers and creators alike. It’s a long story, but the tl;dr version is this: Fine Bros. created a program called React World, in which content creators from around the globe could subscribe to the program, receive branding support for their videos and essentially recreate any Fine Bros-styled content underneath their umbrella for a local audience. These new creators start off with an established platform, Fine Bros. takes a cut and everyone wins, right? Not so much.
In amongst all of this Fine Bros tried to trademark the word “React” in a bid to protect their content – content which as a concept isn’t remotely unique enough to try and protect legally. Considering the Fine Bros have a history of trying to take down other React videos that they deem too close to their formula (again, a concept that isn’t unique to them in any way), this made a lot of people unease about the whole thing.
Not only were the Fine Bros trying to exploit video-creating fans with illusions of brand success, they were trying to make sure that it was the only way to produce this content going forward. Whether they understood it or not (they’re not dumb, they probably did). The video below goes into more detail about how this all works, and it’s truly the best explanation out there.
So what exactly happened? Well fans who Fine Bros. seemed to assume were dumb enough to fall for such a scheme immediately banded together, driving the subscription numbers of the channel down drastically in a short space of time. The channel was bleeding subscribers by the thousands per minute, prompting an emergency reaction from the Fine Bros. This at first lead to more videos trying to explain the situation better, but it couldn’t cauterise the hemorrhaging wound that the Fine Bros. found themselves with. They ultimately just dropped it all.
We’re here to apologize.
We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them.
We have decided to do the following:
1. Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.*
2. Discontinue the React World program.
3. Release all past Content ID claims.**
The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward.
This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.
Benny and Rafi Fine
And that’s that it seems. React World and the idea to try and control an entire concept on YouTube is no more, with the Fine Bros. suffering a massive blow to their fanbase and credibility in the process. Is it enough to take them down forever? Probably not, but it’s a strong warning to anyone else with the same idea.
Last Updated: February 2, 2016