Having invited the ire of the internet by trying to trademark their reaction videos, YouTubers the Fine Bros have backed off, canceling their controversial React World initiative and apologizing for building "a system that could easily be used for wrong." In a Medium post today, Benny and Rafi Fine said they have now rescinded all trademarks and applications for brands related to reaction videos (such as Teens React and Elders React). "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," the brothers said in the post. "Though we can assert our intentions are pure, there's no way to prove them."
The Fine Bros apologized for building a system that could be used for wrong
As part of the pair's now-discontinued React World program, anybody who aimed to produce a reaction video — in the vein of one of the Fine Bros' well-known series — would have had to license the format from Benny and Rafi Fine and their company. News of the program — and its evasive delivery in a YouTube video — led to the brothers losing tens of thousands of subscribers, becoming the target of jokes by fellow YouTubers, and facing a barrage of abuse from commenters. A subsequent attempt to clarify the "confusion" only made matters worse, as Benny and Rafi tried to justify why it would be beneficial for everyone if they were forced to pay to use a generic video format.
In addition to the cancelation of the React World initiative, the Fine Bros say they're releasing all of their channel's Content ID claims. The brothers say that most claims through Content ID — YouTube's own technology that scans uploaded files to see if they belong to someone else — are legitimate, leveled against re-uploaded versions of their own videos, but ask those who've had their own original reaction videos removed to contact them.
"This has been a hard week," Benny and Rafi write, but even after the onslaught of criticism they've faced over the past 24 hours, with big-name YouTubers calling their project a cynical cash grab, the brothers still have more than 13 million subscribers. Today's U-turn should help dampen the firestorm further, but it's yet to be seen whether the duo will be able to shake off the association with their failed project — the internet has a long memory.