The Fine Bros have removed both the React World announcement and Update videos and have released a statement saying that they have canceled the initiative and are rescinding their trademarks on the react names. In a way, this is a victory and I’m happy they backed up.
That said, it’s extremely telling how they went about doing this. At the time of this writing, they didn’t release a video on YouTube, where the overwhelming majority of people who see their content are, nor a proper apology on Twitter or Facebook (though they did link to it there), they released a statement on Medium.com
I have no idea what the heck Medium.com is. It appears as though they are still trying to keep this situation as hush hush as possible. Have some balls, Fine Bros. Make a YouTube video saying exactly what you did, why it was wrong, and admit that you were systematically shutting down YT react channels when they were getting too big or infringing on your “format.” Admit that you ordered your fans to brigade the Ellen DeGeneres show when they had kids react to stuff. Admit that you are bullies.
Apologizing in the most insincere way possible on a website that doesn’t even come close to reaching your whole audience is not an apology at all.
They’re only sorry they got caught.
Finally, there’s no way to say for sure if they’ll pull this sort of move again in the future. Their track record over the course of the last few years suggests they might, and the next time it happens they’ll have learned to keep quiet about it so people catch on right away.
I still think these guys are horrible trademark trolls who have built their entire fortune on filming the reactions of other people watching content created by other people. I think react videos can be neat and I enjoy them from time to time, but the Fine Brothers haven’t created anything; they let others do the creating for them and they just reap the benefits.
Soooooooooooooooooooo let’s talk a little more about the Fine Brothers. After the monumental amount of backlash they received over their announcement this week that they trademarked their react show and that you could “legally” license their react “format” through them and give them a cut of your earnings, they released this response to clarify a few things: (the video has since been removed)
They’re sooooooory that they confused us with their crap marketing scheme centered around creating a monopoly on reaction videos, cause that’s totally not what they’re doing guys!
Except that’s exactly what they’re doing.
They kept mentioning that they’re only licensing their specific react format, but continue to not explain what their format is. In the video, they reference a Burger King and essentially say, “You can open your own fast food chain, but you cant use our logo and recipes.”
Fair enough, I’d imagine food chains shouldn’t steal logos and exact recipes… but people aren’t copying their “Burger King” recipe, they’re just trying to make burgers and are getting shut down because of it.
They say they don’t own the genre of react videos, and that they aren’t going to mess with other react videos.
Except that’s exactly what they’re doing:
These are just a couple of the most prominent examples that popped up in the discussion.
Then there’s the issue of their statement regarding the use of their content:
“You are prohibited from distributing this show or any React branded content in any way without express consent in any territory worldwide.”
…this coming from guys who take the content of other people without their consent and make money off it.
I’ll say that I’m neither for nor against react videos. However, given that the Fine Bros are censoring the ability of others to make whatever content they please and in many cases are shutting down people’s channels, I don’t want people to forget.
I’ll even say that I think reaction videos would fall under fair use, and if that’s the case (and the Fine Bros seem to think it is given that it’s their entire source of income) it is nothing less that maliciously hypocritical for them to say that others can’t use their content without their consent.
Finally, in their recent update video, they provide an email address for people who still have questions and concerns to get in touch with them for answers.
Don’t use it.
They want you to email them instead of asking these questions and laying these criticisms publicly on their videos and social media pages. They want to keep the discussion out of the public eye as much as possible because their sponsors might not want to be associated with their negative backlash.
Here’s a list of their sponsors:
In the event you do send message to these companies, keep it polite, that’s the best way to get a positive response and hopefully make some kind of difference.
Again, I really don’t mind one way or the other about react videos, but I do care about the freedom of speech and censorship on the internet.