***Update 1 – 2016-02-02 – 15:10 CET***
It appears if it didn´t take all that long before the fine brothers came to the conclusion that they needed to do something about their “react” trademarks, content id claims and the react world program. Which they did, because less than 12 hours ago the fine bros posted the following message via medium.com:
A message from the Fine Brothers:
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
*This includes “React,” “Kids React,” “Elders React,” “Lyric Breakdown,” etc. Please note: It takes a while for the databases to update, but the necessary paperwork has been filed.
**Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system that automatically flags content that looks like or sounds like copyrighted content. This mostly flags videos that are direct re-uploads of our videos (which is what the system is built for), but if you know of a video that has been claimed or removed incorrectly, please email us with “false claim” in the subject line.”
So there you have it. However, it remains to be seen if the fine bros will live up to these changes (did they really mean it?).
The fine bros and the killing of their own Youtube empire
The last 48 hours have been a real PR nightmare for The Fine Brothers Entertainment (they have lost over 140K subscribers so far, and they lose about 100-150 subscribers per minute). And things became even worse when they uploaded their “update” video on Youtube yesterday. And why is that? Well, in the video the Fine Brothers tried to explain the whole “react trademark” situation from their perspective (the update video has over 276k dislikes at this moment). Let´s just say that the video didn´t work all that well for them. In the matter of fact, The Fine bros just added even more gasoline to the fire with their video (people started to call them out on Twitter almost instantly). So it was no surprise to me when I found out that people got really angry and upset with The fine bros.
And rightfully so, since The Fine Brothers came up with the brilliant idea to trademark the following word phrases (I understand that they trademarked “Fine Brothers Entertainment”, but the rest is just obscene):
Teens React [Registered – 4371580]
Kids React [Registered – 4248447]
Elders React [Registered – 4371581]
Fine Brothers Entertainment
Do They Know It?
People vs. Technology
Try Not to Smile or Laugh
And as you might imagine, it didn´t take all that long before The fine bros started to feel the backlash from their actions (famous Youtuber´s such as Boogie2988 has already taken a swing at the fine bros). In short, people started to call them out on their nonsense:
In a way, all of this made me think about that one time when Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a trademark application for “Let’s Play” (which they didn´t get). However, Sony didn´t get that trademark (and thank god for that). The fine bros on the other hand,, did get a trademark for “React”. And they have already started to take down videos that have “react” in the title (like LeKevPlays video, for example). And for those who are not 100% sure what The Fine Bros trademark madness is all about, Skux (a NeoGaf user) made a really good summary on the matter:
“1) The Fine Bros have no case when it comes to trademarking their format “people react to things”, it is simply too broad and too shallow, and too close to the concept of “people react to things”. You cannot trademark the concept “people react to things”, the same way as you cannot trademark the concept of “reality TV singing competition”.
2) The only thing unique about their videos is their branding, which they are perfectly okay to trademark and license. “Kids React!” with an exclamation point would be fine, but “Kids React” or “Elders React” are already popular phrases within the platform. Sounds okay so far, right?
3) Here’s where it gets scary. React World has no mechanisms in place for quality control. It isn’t like their Burger King example where a license owner has a certain expectation of service delivery. They are literally crowdsourcing the making of React videos to everyone.
4) With tens of thousands of React video channels signing up for free, none of them will ever be able to become reasonably profitable for the creator, however ALL of them will be monetised by Fine Bros Entertainment, taking a 30-50% cut of revenue. THIS IS A PYRAMID SCHEME.
5) And here’s where it gets even scarier. Fine Bros will be able to leverage their influence to take down channels that are not part of their brand, forcing them to become part of the React brand (and forfeit a cut of their revenue), or being taken down completely. THIS IS RACKETEERING.
No one can defend the Fine Bros after seeing the true nature of their licensing plan. This isn’t about enabling YouTubers to make money from the React brand, it’s about creating a giant network of people to do the Fine Bros’ work for them” – Skux, a NeoGaf user
The fine bros and the term “Gaming”
And Ryan Morrison (Aka “VideoGameAttorney”. Yes, Ryan is a lawyer and a Gamer) showed absolutely no mercy with his critique in the case with the fine bros react trademark:
“Sorry, but it’s not complex. They aren’t trying to own their format. They’re trying to own the word react”
“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.” –
“If you make YouTube videos or stream, I will be offering pro bono services to oppose the REACT trademark by Fine Bros. Please DM me.” – VideoGameAttorney, @MrRyanMorrison
However, it seems like the fine bros has also trademarked “Gaming” (as seen in the picture above). And that´s of course really alarming for anyone who Stream or upload Gaming videos on the Internet. Especially since the Fine Bros are notorious for going after Youtube videos which they believe are a trademark infringement” case. So, yes. I am somewhat concerned that we (and others) may get targeted by the Fine Bros at one point or another. And since they have a lot of money and top paid lawyers, they could basically choke anyone out with no sweat. So I find it to be rather sarcastic that the fine bros are trying to make it sound like their trademarks isn´t a big thing (something which you should worry about), and that they won´t hunt down videos and channels on the Internet (in particular, videos on Youtube).
“But, just because we have, or might get, trademarks, doesn’t mean we’re going to run around and start taking down videos!” –
“EMAIL: [email protected]
“NOTE: If you have a Content ID claim, we are working to resolve the issue by early next week. – The Fine Brothers Entertainment, via Youtube
Well, I don´t know about you, but I sense a large dose of bullshit and false security here. And we all know what happen to Ellen (The Ellen Degeneres show) when she showed some old-school technology to a couple of kids back in 2014:
And let´s not forget that it´s said the fine bros stole the original elders react idea back in 2012 (“SENIORS REACT – HuskyStarcraft by stillcosmo“), and when they released their very first “Elders react” video. The fine bros then had Youtube to delete the “Seniors React” video and channel. So do I trust the fine bros on their words? Hell no! In fact, while you’re reading this. There are people who are getting copyright flagged on Youtube. And why is that? I´ll tell you why. It´s because they made the big mistake to upload react videos that are based on the Fine Bros (either parodies or direct response videos to the fine bros react trademark nonsense, speaking of parodies. Check out CGPGrey2´s The Fine Bros parody).
So, from my point of view the fine bros needs to answer the following questions:
1. Make a clear statement on what YOUR format is
2. Come clean with the video takedowns that you´ve done uptil this point
3. Explain ALL of your trademarks and what you intend to do with them (what actions will you take against people who brake your trademarks?)
4. Does “fair use” and “racketeering” (watch the movie “The Office Space”) mean anything to you?
With that said, what do you guys and girls think about The fine bros and their “react” trademark? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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