Hell hath no fury like the Internet scorned. A lesson I think each and every one of us knows, but might not have seen played out, until YouTube duo Fine Bros decided they wanted to copyright their ‘reaction’ videos. If you have somehow missed this phenomenon, these videos (as their title suggests) show people reacting to viral YouTube videos. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Most viral platforms use them, I know I’ve watched countless ‘American’s try…’ videos on Buzzfeed alone.
Did Fine Bros come up with the concept of reaction videos? No. Did Fine Bros think they could get away with trying to charge everyone else just because their videos were seemingly more popular? Yes. The blatant issue here is that Fine Bros may see reaction videos as their trademark, but if they didn’t create the concept then there is no way they should get money out of people who wish to make them. However, as soon as word broke out about their copyright claim, their subscribing number of fourteen million began to plummet faster than Wall Street in 1929. Within this whole controversy the role of the keyboard warrior – who dared to show their disgust by pressing ‘unsubscribe’ – is somewhat belittled. It’s unlikely that it would have even become a ‘controversy’ without the rapid loss of fans from such a successful account.
The elaborate video (which has now obviously been taken down) in which they lay out their very own ‘React scheme’ makes it all look like rainbows and sunshine, like they’re about to do a whole lot for the thousands of people who make similar videos to them. Look under the surface, however, and you’ll discover that if you don’t sign up to their scheme you’ll fall foul to copyright laws. This attempt to monopolize on a source of enjoyment for the larger audience clearly didn’t sit right with anyone, and I’d say it’s largely down to the loss of so many followers and so much bad press, that the Fine Bros decided to retract their Trademark Application.
I’m pretty ashamed it took this long for the World Internet to realise that Benny and Rafi Fine are selfish and mean-spirited. They encouraged the harassment of Ellen Degeneres when she showed a video of children reacting to old technology, and they even partook in the taking down of people ‘Reacting to Fine Bros React’ videos. Rather than acting with the decorum of people who can make an impact on the World Wide Web, they’re more like those Twitter trolls with the default Egg as their picture.
If there’s anything that this controversy proves, it’s that the Internet and all of its little minions will destroy your reputation if you even dare try to put a price on what is essentially a mode for freedom of expression. It’s an infringement on people’s creativity and to put it simply, it was a dick move.