Noted YouTube content creators The Fine Brothers are in hot water with the site’s community after trying to register trademarks protecting their popular reaction video format.
In recent years, some of the most popular channels on YouTube have transformed from hobbyist pursuits to major money-making ventures. Now, one notable pair of content creators have laid out a scheme that doesn’t seem too far off from the tactics of traditional mainstream media outlets — and fans aren’t happy.
If you have ever been on YouTube, you’ll likely have seen at least one video produced by the Fine Brothers. The duo initially rose to fame for creating the ‘Spoiler’ series of clips, where the two siblings spoil plot points from a host of books or films of television series at breakneck speed.
However, the Fine Bros. have found a new money-spinner as of late, thanks to the advent of reaction videos. If you’re not familiar with the genre, these clips see a particular group of people (e.g teens, the elderly) respond to a particular thing (e.g. spicy food, movie trailers, retro video games).
The Fine Brothers were not the only content creators producing this sort video — but they would very much like to be. As a result, the pair made an attempt to trademark the very concept, informing other channels that they would be able to ‘licence’ the idea via a smug announcement on their YouTube channel.
Response from the YouTube community was about as cordial as when Sony attempted to trademark Let’s Play, in that users were soon out for blood. The Fine Brothers have since been attacked via every format from amusing animated GIF to heartfelt and well-reasoned YouTube video.
The Fines have since aired something of an apology, producing a video that stresses that their intention was simply to protect their own brand of reaction video, and not establish a hold over the genre as a whole. This sounds like a reasonable response, but it’s not quite in line with the channel’s previous actions.
Previously, the channel has openly criticized the likes of Buzzfeed and The Ellen Degeneres show for using a similar reaction format. While it’s easy to understand why the Fine Brothers want to protect their own content, it’s difficult to support their supposed ownership of this style of video.
The bad feeling surrounding the Fine Brothers’ recent actions is having a negative effect on their subscriber counts — which is, of course, being tracked for all to see. It’ll be a little while before we can see what sort of impact this has on the company as a whole.