The Clash: Fine Bros. Overreaction or justified?

BY JACOB WARING

The Internet can be like a high noon duel in the style of the wild west. Take for example when a couple of yellowbelly “YouTubers” by the names Benny and Rafi Fine, aka the Fine Brothers attempted to copyright the term “react” and other such related terms. The Internet community went from being The Man with No Name to Dirty Harry asking the brothers, ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punks?”

The brothers tested their luck and the Internet community collectively pulled out their .44 Magnums to unsubscribe. A substantial number of Internet users unsubscribed to the Fine Brothers with the current numbers standing over 600,000 according to tfbsubscribers.github.io website. Never underestimate the power behind the collective users of the Internet as that is risking awaking a sleeping giant that is the Internet.

The brothers were hemorrhaging subscribers at a rapid rate and they decided to discard their licensing program, a first of its kind for YouTube. This program would allow other creators to use the Fine Brothers’ formats in exchange for part of their profits. Subscribers, other content creators and viewers in general opposed the concept and they clearly made their voices heard ranging from other React YouTubers to those who are just viewers.

Some say the internet overreacted and made a big stink over nothing. I vehemently disagree on the grounds that the implications of such a program would kill the Internet as we know it. Essentially, trademarking would have stifled competition within the “react genre” and profiting from other’s videos. Regardless of their Intent, it could have let the door open for others to abuse such a system.

At the end of the day, the Internet made sure the Fine Brother’s saw their reaction with a click of a mouse. Those very clicks provided a reaction that reinserted the power of the Internet.

BY GAVIN ROWLEY

Every now and then, the collective opinion of the Internet, in its unfathomable stupidity, chooses a scapegoat, someone to hate unconditionally and often without much cause.

A pair of “YouTubers” known as the Fine Brothers sparked up controversy recently after attempting to copyright “React.” However, much of the outrage, as is often the case with the internet, is unfounded and uninformed. A majority of their critics probably didn’t even know the fine brothers existed until they saw an angry Reddit post about a trademark for videos they didn’t watch.

Trademarks are a vital resource for content creators who want to support themselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stop people from taking the work that you slaved over and selling it for themselves, and unlike other forms of business it is not only the money they are taking out of your pocket that hurts you. For artists, your work is very personal, and having your work stolen is as much an emotional pain as it is a financial one.

The problem with the Fine Brothers trademark of “React” lies in the wording of the classification. The trademark request, which can be found online, reads: “classification: Entertainment services, namely, providing an ongoing series of programs and webisodes via the internet in field of observing and interviewing various groups of people.” This is far too broad and vague, and could potentially cover all Internet videos.  Though the language seems to indicate that they are trying to copyright their specific series of videos, YouTube’s flawed flagging system could cause a lot of videos to be taken down.

What really people don’t understand, is that they cannot legally copyright a genre or “style” of video, in this case, style of showing multiple people reacting to videos. What can be copyrighted is the title of “React.” This would have only limited what people could title their videos without getting flagged. The “Reaction genre” would have continued to exist, they just wouldn’t have been able to use “Kids React,” “Elderly React,” or “YouTubers React,” ect. in the title.

You see, what caused this witch-hunt was how the Fine Brothers handled the situation. After announcing they were applying for the copyright, they released a video in which they condescendingly berated their angry fans. They claimed that their critics were making a big deal out of nothing and they paintied their copyright as a positive thing. The video has since been taken down, but the damage was done. Nothing brings out the pitchforks faster on the fickle and mob-minded mine field that is the Internet than trying to defend yourself.

So, even after the Fine Brothers have rescinded their copyright application and apologized for the fiasco, the mob hasn’t forgiven them. To all you readers out there who dwell on Internet forums, next time you see a scapegoat on a Reddit post, try not to over ”React” ™.

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