YouTube’s Reaction Phase: TheFineBros Copyright Disaster

The term ‘react’ and the genre of reaction videos on the internet have been around since the early days of YouTube, the popular channel ‘TheFineBros‘ or ‘The React Channel‘ as it’s now known, were the main pioneers for the use of this video format as a regular YouTube series, however the nature of ‘reacting’ is common in society and it’s use in media is very common, programs such as ‘The Ellen Degeneres Show‘ frequently use a ‘reacting to videos and other kinds of media’ type format.

However in early 2016, TheFineBros (Rafi and Benny Fine), were involved in one of the most epic fails of the year. They uploaded a new YouTube video (which has since been taken down but has been re-uploaded by various channels) announcing a new video licensing system they were planning on introducing in the weeks following the video, a system where content creators had permission to use the ‘react video format’ and the react video titles, as well as a supply of resources including graphics and audio effects to use in the videos in exchange for the react channel brand to be applied to all videos and TheFineBros to receive remuneration for each video. This also included basically trademarking the word ‘react’, as TheFineBros were filing law suits and suing people who made reaction videos, which was a disaster as the term ‘react’ is so widely used. The situation can be explained in further detail by another YouTuber h3h3Productions:

The internet went into a meltdown after TheFineBros made their announcement, flooding social media with memes (what we seem to do best after a big internet event), resulting in TheFineBros losing thousands of YouTube subscribers.


It makes you wonder why TheFineBros didn’t just use a Creative Commons like strategy to allow other people to use their react format. It’s obvious they were only concerned about maintaining power and making money, which is starting to sound a lot like the larger corporations who own the majority of content in the world, which is what we don’t what YouTube to be all about.

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Original Memes

Reference List:

Foxx, C 2016, ‘Fine Brothers spark fury with YouTube trademark attempt’, BBC News, 1 Februrary, viewed 24 April, <;.

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6 thoughts on “YouTube’s Reaction Phase: TheFineBros Copyright Disaster

  1. Hi, Alex great post. It’s rather funny that both of these guys got their fame from one type of video and they want to copyright something like reacting, then go off and attack someone like Ellen DeGeneres because she did something similar on her show. Really this sort of copyright is really preventing anyone from creating anything as a part of the fine brothers deal was that whatever they created would be surrendered to them and they would own everything. The social backlash they received is really a great sign that people are sick of people like the fine brothers just creating a copyright because they can generate more revenue. If you want to further explore this issue of copyright blocking creativity this article is great,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lawrence Lessig stated that ‘Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less.’ and I think that quote works really well with the Fine Bros example. If the Fine Bros were successful with their announcement, our viewing experience would be different, limited and less people would be doing it. Maybe, the Fine Bros were thinking that because the Youtube community were finding other creator’s react videos to be horrible (people like Jinx, with JacksFilms calling him out,, that they were the only ones who were properly allowed to do it? There is sometimes a hypocrisy with Youtube channels and the community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks for commenting! that is actually a really interesting perspective on this topic! I never really thought about it like that! thanks for providing further insight, always appreciated 🙂


  3. I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity between ‘TheFineBros’ story and that of Disney Inc. How TheFineBros enjoyed their success from initially being reliant on the collective public contributing video content and being accessible to all, yet now that they are successful they wish to hold onto this monopoly by attempting to restrict other’s from enjoying the very same rights that enabled TheFineBros’ success. Lawrence Lessig argued that it was a combination of Disney’s creative ability coupled with Disney’s freedom of access to create from content that was part of the collective culture at the time (think of the Grimm Brothers stories or the success of Disney’s book-to-film adaptations that became the highly successful Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953) movies). It’s difficult to sympathise with the argument to restrict the type of access afforded to both Disney and TheFineBros (as both parties are looking to do), as their success was dependant on them enjoying the freedom to create.


  4. Your remediation was really funny and a good end to the blog post. You used a really recent and relevant example and explained it in really great detail. I loved that you included H3H3 productions ‘reaction’ video about the controversy, because he makes some really good points about the hypocrisy of the Fine Bros, as they also use other peoples content without their permission. Great post with really humorous and engaging examples.


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