Featured Image for Massive Youtube drama: Fine Bros, ‘React’, copyright, and war across the web

Massive Youtube drama: Fine Bros, ‘React’, copyright, and war across the web

Fine Brothers Entertainment are a massive Youtube organisation who publish all kinds of videos that you would have undoubtedly seen at some point, including reaction videos (e.g. ‘Kids React’, ‘Teens React’, ‘Elders React’) as well as other shows like ‘People vs Technology’.

Fine Bros have decided to launch a new initiative, allowing fans to create their own ‘React’ videos, more generically known as reaction videos.

On the surface, it makes sense – seeking to grow their fanbase, and their bottom line, by granting licenses to make their own versions of the shows. They’re talking it up as a massive change for the “entire global media industry”. Huh.

But Fine Bros appear to have massively overstepped the mark, having sought to trademark the word ‘React‘.

They’ve already trademarked ‘Kids React’, ‘Teens React’ and ‘Elders React’, and appear to be peeved with anyone who dares even shoot a ‘reaction’ style video, which they say is basically their intellectual property.

They’ve commenced Youtube copyright takedowns on numerous other channels, are defending their moves via careful PR, and are generally running with the concept that ‘React’ videos are their property.

Heck, even YouTube are in on it, with their vice president of content partnerships noting in the original press release, as mentioned here in Variety, how innovative the team at Fine Bros are:

“The Fine Brothers have been innovators on YouTube since day one, so it’s no surprise that they’ve created a unique way to expand the hugely popular ‘React’ series to YouTube audiences around the globe,” Kelly Merryman, YouTube’s VP of content partnerships, said in a statement. “This is brand-building in the YouTube age — rising media companies building their brands through collaborations with creators around the world.”

The problem is, reaction videos existed before the Fine Bros got to Youtube. Notably, Internet folklore is the epic reactions to ‘Two girls, one cup’, something we definitely recommend you don’t look up if you don’t know what we’re talking about.

(The Roots’ reaction is still our favourite – uploaded in December 2007.)

Reaction videos aren’t new, so Fine Bros looking to trademark their style of reaction is questionable, but the reality is that any reaction-style video uploaded under these terms is now a risky proposition – Fine Bros might swoop in and license the content, even if it’s only thinly related to the ‘React World’ style of video.

Now, as is the way of the web, if you piss enough people off, especially taking money from the little guys, the mob will rise up.

The biggest names on YouTube are getting in on it, it’s all across Reddit, and it’s spilling over into the mainsteam.

One style of taking it to Fine Bros is to react to their own videos, as per Youtuber Cr1TiKaL, who is utterly savage:

This one, by Boogie2998, is a bit more balanced:


Here’s a live stream, currently with 1700 people online, watching the subscription numbers of Fine Bros rapidly fall. The current rate of falling is 97 days until they hit zero.

Update 1: Fine Bros have attempted to address the concerns in this video where they look very, very tired:

The core issues remain around trademarking the word ‘React’, and even phrases like ‘Try Not To Smile Or Laugh‘. Remember, Fine Bros didn’t create the idea of a reaction video. It’d be like the classic Unboxing videos being trademarked by a third-party after years of millions of unboxing videos.

Update 2:. Wow – Fine Bros have taken down the above video and have posted to Medium apologising and ending their trademarks, and ‘React World’ programme. This is huge.

> Read more here.

About the author

Tristan has a passion for tech, digital life, sport, and being told he looks better in person.

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