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Update: Fine Brothers shut ‘React World’ licensing deal, apologize to fans

Updated on 02-02-2016 by Saqib Shah: The negative reaction to the Fine Brothers’ React World licensing program has forced its creators to discontinue the initiative altogether.

The online backlash to the React World licensing program saw critics bash the Fine Brothers’ attempts to trademark the word “React” in regard to online videos. The short-lived initiative, launched last week, allowed fans and YouTube creators to license the concept for selected shows from the Fine Brothers in order to create their own ‘React’ videos.

The Fine Brothers made the announcement in a Medium post, in which they “apologized” for building a “system that could easily be used for wrong.” Alongside their decision to shut down React World, the YouTube stars claim they are also retracting all of their “React” trademarks and applications, and releasing all past content ID claims that had resulted in other users’ videos being removed on the basis of copyright infringement.

“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,” the Fine Brothers said in their statement. “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.”

Opponents claim the deal trademarks a preexisting format, namely the “reaction” video. In the time since the ‘React World’ launch was announced, the popular Fine Brothers Entertainment channel has lost tens of thousands of subscribers per day. 

Updated on 02-01-2016 by Saqib Shah: The Fine Brothers’ “React World” licensing program may have cost the YouTube stars over 100,000 channel subscribers, following a growing online backlash.

The controversy started in the wake of the announcement of the licensing program last week. Almost immediately, popular YouTube channels began criticizing the move in a series of scathing parody videos, like the one below from gaming channel Mega64.

Elsewhere on Reddit, users began debating the merits of the program, in particular criticizing the tough legal measures the Fine Brothers are entitled to take against users who upload “React” videos without their permission. Essentially, the argument put forward by those opposed to React World is that the Fine Brothers’ “React” trademark restricts users from creating a form of content that was already in existence before the Fine Brothers popularized it, namely the reaction video. 

The trepidation from YouTube creators and fans is not unfounded, according to the Guardian. In the past, the Fine Brothers have criticized the use of reaction videos by others, including the Ellen Show and BuzzFeed. Additionally, unrelated YouTube channels including ‘Seniors React’ and ‘British Kids React’ were forced to remove their videos following takedown requests by the YouTube stars.

The impact of the mounting backlash can be measured by looking at the plummeting subscriber count of the Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE) channel, home to many of their React videos, as pointed out by Reddit user mr_grass_man. To put that into perspective, the Social Blade analytics service shows that the FBE channel has lost over 100,000 subscribers since the React World announcement on January 26.

For their part, the Fine Brothers issued an update video in an attempt to address what they termed the “overwhelming” negativity around the React World program. In it they state that they do not own the “reaction” video genre and that their license only applies to their own React content.

The fabled reaction video has been around for almost a decade, gaining notoriety after the release of a barrage of clips showing people reacting to the the viral 2 Girls 1 Cup video. Since then the format has been adopted by numerous media creators on, but not limited to, YouTube. Famous reaction videos over the years include a group of U.S. marines reacting to the aforementioned clip, a trio of elderly women reacting to the Kim Kardashian sex tape, and viewers reacting to the infamous “Red Wedding” scene on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Original text: YouTube channel Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE) is launching a licensing deal for fans that allows them to create their own versions of its popular React videos.

A new channel launching later this year, called React World, will carry the user-made videos and act as an online community for fans, Variety reports. Meanwhile, FBE will offer promotional and technical support to creators who participate in the program.

The FBE licenses and trademarks available to creators at launch include “Kids React,” “Teens React,” “Elders React,” “Adults React,” “React Gaming,” “Do They Know It,” “People Vs Food,” “Lyric Breakdown,” “Try Not to Smile or Laugh,” “Opinions,” and “People Vs Technology.”

Related: The highest paid YouTube stars for 2015 made over $54 million 

Users involved in React World will receive production guidance, creative guidelines, and format bibles to help with the creation process. React licenses are open to anyone, as long as you have a YouTube channel and can meet the minimum age requirements to legally sign a contract in the country in which you reside.

In terms of monetization, React World creators have the opportunity to be part of sponsorship deals in conjunction with brands, negotiated by FBE. Although licenses are free, React World creators must agree to share 20 percent of AdSense revenue and 30 percent of premium brand deals with FBE. More information can be found on the FBE website.

The company claims it is working with YouTube and ChannelMeter on the launch of React World, with the latter responsible for video analytics and global payments.

“The Fine Brothers have been innovators on YouTube since day one, so it’s no surprise that they’ve created a unique way to expand the hugely popular ‘React’ series to YouTube audiences around the globe,” Kelly Merryman, YouTube’s VP of content partnerships, said in a statement. “This is brand-building in the YouTube age — rising media companies building their brands through collaborations with creators around the world.”

Founded by real-life brothers Benny and Rafi Fine, FBE currently claims more than 20 million subscribers and 150 million monthly views across its family of channels.