By: Devonne Tourre
The Fine Brothers is an YouTube entertainment channel that has been making YouTube content for nine years. The channel is headed by Benny Fine and Rafi Fine, brothers who have created many series during their YouTube career—such as Lost: What Will Happen Next?, MyMusic, and Spoilers. The series that they are most famous for creating is their React series which included such shows as Kids React, Teens React, and Youtubers React, among many others.
Kids React was the first show of the React series, with the first episode of it released on October 16, 2010. The shows in the React series all follow a similar style. The Fine Brothers show the reactor a video and then capture the person’s reaction. This formula is quite common in every reaction video on the Internet, and has been done countless times.
In 2014, after the success of their four React series (Kids React, Teens React, Elders React, and YouTubers React), The Fine Brothers decided to launch a separate YouTube channel for their additional content, simply titled REACT. The channel features reactions, but to more than just videos, as previous episodes had done. The shows new to this channel are as follows: Kids Vs. Foods―where kids from Kids React taste foods that they probably haven’t eaten before; React: Gaming―where people from all of their shows play games individually or against one another; and React Remix―where old React videos are remixed into songs. The channel even spawned a television series funded by Nickelodeon called React to That, which uses the Fine Brothers’ React video formula, with a few additions.
As of January 26, 2016, The Fine Brothers unveiled their biggest React-related project yet called React World, a part of which was the plan to trademark their existing React series, as well as the term “react” used in videos. The event that has caused so much controversy about this new endeavor is the trademarking of the word “react”. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, The Fine Brothers had previously filed to trademark the word “react” on July 10, 2015. As YouTube has increased in popularity, reaction videos overall have become more popular on the platform. They have spawned such channels as Chadtronic, EWNetwork, and smaller channels who produce their own reaction series’. Currently, The Fine Brothers trademark plan is being stalled by public opposition from many YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and even some legal attorneys If their plan does succeed, then channels with reaction videos will be hit with plenty of copyright strikes on their videos and the videos would possibly get removed from YouTube entirely. Not only that, but unless the content creator get permission from The Fine Brothers, they cannot have the word “react” in the title of their video. This has the potential to change the whole spectrum of YouTube videos, as these types of videos are quite popular on the platform.
When addressing the issue of whether videos will be taken down, The Fine Bros. have fled to social media to “clear up” some misunderstandings and “confusion” about React World. “We’re not saying we hold a copyright on reaction videos overall, no one can. We’re licensing our specific shows, like TV has done for years.” The Fine Brothers also stated they would “not be trying to take revenue from other types of reaction videos, and will not be copyright-striking.” However, this is something that has happened in the past regarding a copyrighted video/idea from The Fine Brothers . In 2012, a YouTube channel by the name of stillcosmo had a series of their own called Seniors React, where seniors would react some to some popular videos on the Internet. The Fine Brothers immediately took down those videos—by the means of copyright strikes—as well as the entire channel because they saw it as a channel blatantly stealing their format of videos. Soon after, Elders React became a new show on The Fine Brothers’ channel. The interesting thing about this situation is that Seniors React existed before Elders React, which shows that The Fine Brothers will go out of their way to protect their ‘React’ type series, no matter what the circumstance.
The YouTube community has claimed that videos are now being taken down due to this situation, and The Fine Brothers’ subscriber count is drastically dropping as each day goes by.
On February 1, 2016, The Fine Brothers made an apology letter on Medium which states that they have “built a system [recognizing React World] that could easily be used for wrong.” They claim that they have realized that trademarks were a bad idea to implement into their React World plan, and they have reached a compromise: The Fine Brothers plan to rescind all of their “React” trademark applications, discontinue the React World program, and release all past Content ID claims.
This shows that their intentions were pure from the start, but as they say in their very own letter: “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.”