YouTube stars drop plans to trademark ‘reaction videos’ after backlash

02/02/2016

The team behind one of YouTube's biggest channels have dropped plans to trademark ‘reaction videos’ after a backlash from fans.

The Fine Brothers' videos show people responding to online clips, depicting groups like teens, children, the elderly and YouTubers reacting to pop culture phenomena like DJ Khaled’s Snapchat messages and the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ trailer.

Some of The Fine Brothers' most successful series include Kids React, Teens React and YouTubers React.

After winning over more than 14 million subscribers on YouTube, the duo decided to file for a trademark and begin licensing their ‘React’ format.

Had they succeeded in securing a trademark, their company Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE) would be able to protect the format of their reaction videos.

The firm also announced a new program called React World to license its React format to other YouTubers, allowing them to use FBE assets in their videos and get a percentage of the revenue earned from the clips they create.

The move sparked strong criticism from fans. By owning the ‘React’ trademark, FBE would be able to go after content creators involved in making similar videos and coerce them into taking them down.

Videos in a similar style have been produced by many YouTubers - often with "react" in the title.

They have now apologised and said trademark applications will be rescinded. "Hello, we're here to apologise," The Fine Brothers, Rafi and Benny, wrote in a blog.

In videos that have since been removed, The Fine Bros. maintained that they had no intention of ordering YouTubers to take down their reaction clips.

The company said in a blog post:

"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."

Read the full blog here


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