Earlier today, we brought you the story of why the entire internet suddenly hates the Fine Bros. Long story short: a couple of dudes managed to get away with trademarking the concept of reaction videos in a bid to create a channel that gave producers special tools to make reaction videos, so long as they did so under the umbrella of Fine Brothers Entertainment — which the world universally agreed was as evil as it was forehead-palmingly dumb.
Tonight we noticed that both the original REACTION Channel announcement video, and a follow-up wherein the Fine Bros attempted to explain why the internet was wrong and didn’t understand them, both got pulled down.
In their place, a Medium post has gone up, with an apology of sorts. Here is the full text of that announcement:
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:
Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.*
Discontinue the React World program.
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 that’s the kind of move you are forced to make when your YouTube subscribers drop from 14 million to 12 million in a single day. Or when you see these kinds of reactions from a video titled Update that was supposed to help stop the bleeding.
The rescinding of trademarks and applications is a good move, and if you take The Fine Bros at their word throughout this matter, it is sometimes easy to see how YouTube’s complicated Content ID system and associated robots were pulling the creative work of other people that no one from within Fine Brothers Entertainment would have ever taken personal offense toward. Unfortunately, it is cartoonishly obtuse to think that these professional YouTubers didn’t understand the content abuse system they were unleashing this week on unsuspecting users; and it’s even harder to see the purity of their motives when knowing that it financially benefited them to act like there was nothing they could do.
The React World program shutting down, and filing the necessary paperwork to loosen the noose around Content ID are good, semi-concrete steps in the right direction. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Fines have permanently obliterated all good will for their company and channel, or if the internet (with its tiny attention span yet loooooong memory) will welcome them back to the status of streaming overlords.
At very least, this sets a precedent that YouTube is allowing, or even encouraging, some pretty evil shit. Let’s hope the Fines aren’t the only ones who are making an apology this week.