YouTube has long been a place for people to post a wide array of video content from funny cat videos to major breaking news. While YouTubers have been able to monetize their channels for some time now, it’s only been recently (the past few years) that many channels are seeing real commercial success. One of those channels is run by The Fine Bros. which has nearly 14 million subscribers and whom I had never heard of until this story broke. One of The Fine Bros. claim to fame is their series of REACT videos which records the reactions of groups of people to something such as their “Adults React To Condom Challenge” video.
The Fine Bros. REACT videos have become a hit and now they are making a move to monetize their platform further by trademarking REACT and “react-like” videos. When the Bros. made this announcement it didn’t go over so well with the YouTube community. Their announcement video has over 244,000 down votes and only 37,000 up votes with hundreds of angry comments expressing disappointment in the Fine Bros. choice to trademark a word. Watch the Fine Bros. announcement video below.
At first watch and quick interpretation of this video ones first “reaction” is the Bros. are seeking to trademark and prevent any other YouTubers from making reaction type videos. Upon reading the YouTube description on this video it would seem that assessment is incorrect and YouTubers shouldn’t worry.
We do not hold a copyright on reaction videos overall. No one can. React World is about licensing FBE’s show formats, not just for shows like Kids React, but also others like “Do They Know It?,” “Lyric Breakdown,” and more. This is similar to TV where you can’t make a show substantially similar to “America’s Got Talent,” but of course you can make a completely different talent competition series. Same deal here.
We do not own the idea of reaction videos nor would we shut down anyone making reaction based content. Of course you can make your own react videos, but React World is an opportunity to localize versions of our specific series. This is also a way to create a community on YouTube of like minded producers and fans who want to work together, and benefit from the guidance and resources that we can provide around the specific FBE shows that we are making available through the React World program.
But the debate rages on over the legal terms and conditions of what the Fine Bros. are doing here, so much so a lawyer has offered his services for free to battle this in court. Attorney Ryan P. Morrison has taken up the cause to fight The Fine Bros. over trademarking not only on REACT but several other trademarks the Bros. have in place.
I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that this is just them protecting their brand, and that they would never go around bullying people. We’ve seen that’s blatantly false as they have issued a plethora of C&D’s (if the reddit users claiming to have received ones are to be believed, which I think they are), and have even sent their fans to brigade programs like “Ellen” for doing a similar reaction bit. I watched Kids Say the Darndest Things. These guys 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.
On top of REACT, they have also applied for, and have been approved for CELEBRITIES REACT, ADULTS REACT, PARENTS REACT. We will be opposing those as well. They also are applying for DO THEY KNOW IT?, KIDS VS. FOOD, LYRIC BREAKDOWN, PEOPLE V. TECHNOLOGY, and TRY NOT TO SMILE OR LAUGH. While those are all ridiculously generic and descriptive, in my opinion (they hate coming up with original ideas, huh?), we will not be opposing those just yet.
We’re no lawyers here so we’ll leave the legal battles to the parties at hand but this is going to be an interesting case should it evolve into that. Online media is changing, what was once considered a community of users sharing content has quickly become monetizeable and money generally has the ability to create this sort of chaos.
What do you think of this situation? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.