Following overwhelming backlash, the Fine Bros. say that they will drop their ‘React’ trademark plans, along with their React World initiative and their Content ID claims.
Earlier this week, YouTube content creators the Fine Brothers made headlines after announcing their plans to trademark phrases such as ‘React‘, ‘Teens React’ and ‘Elders React’, regarding their massively popular series of reaction videos. They also planned to launch ‘React World’, an initiative that would allow other YouTubers to use the reaction format and also be supported by graphics and music.
Following the duo’s reveal, huge backlash ensued as YouTube users and other content creators questioned how the Fine Bros. could possibly trademark the format when so many others have made similar videos (including The Ellen DeGeneres Show). Moreover, people were concerned that suddenly many non-Fine Bros. reaction videos would be stripped from the web.
Following the controversy – which saw the Fine Bros. YouTube channel lose over 200,000 subscribers (and counting) – the YouTubers have now announced that they will be dropping the trademarks. In a post on Medium, they say that they will “rescind” all of their “React” trademarks and applications”, they will discontinue React World, and they will also release all past Content ID claims (Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system).
The brothers say “we realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong”, and they also recognise that the concern 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. Given the creators’ previous actions (including video takedowns and criticizing Ellen DeGeneres’ take on reaction content), they say that it “makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here” and though they maintain that their intentions were “pure”, they also note that there is no way of proving that.
Many will see this as a big win for both YouTubers and those who view and subscribe to their content. Should the Fine Bros. stay true to their word, and refrain from going after reaction videos in future, then it means like videos such as elders reacting to Mortal Kombat X fatalities (and other videos in that vein) will continue to entertain. Moreover, it means that YouTubers will no longer have to worry about being hit with a copyright claim or a lawsuit for infringing the trademark, something which is an incredibly stressful outcome even if there’s a chance YouTube will pay the legal fees.
Others, though, feel that the community will see more of these types of trademarks cropping up in future. Recently, Sony was criticized for its attempts to trademark Let’s Play and though that trademark looks destined to fail, YouTube can offer huge monetary gains so it looks likely that more will try to capitalize in the coming years and months.