The Fine Brothers Controversy Explained SHORT VERSION

Last week, the Fine Brothers launched a program that would allow other people to make videos based on their popular “React” series using their elements and logos and with marketing help from the brothers.

This is a totally normal thing for a media company to do and no one would have complained except that:

  1. Some people really hate the Fine Brothers and have for years. The reasons for this are complicated. If you’re interested why, here’s the long version.
  2. The Fine Brothers trademarked the word “React” for use in online video.

The people who really hate the Fine Brothers assumed that they would use this trademark to prevent other people from making videos of people reacting to things. That isn’t possible. However, the trademark could potentially be used to take down videos that use the word “React” in the title if the Fine Brothers felt that the content was too similar to their own.

The brothers said they wouldn’t do this, but a lot of people didn’t trust them and saw this new license as a way to control other people’s content and make a bunch of money.

After attempting to explain themselves (and not doing a great job because intellectual property is complicated, and no one really knows what the future holds) the situation got worse and LOTS people started unsubscribing from their channel.

The Fine Brothers then released all of their trademarks and cancelled the licensing program. So now they can’t takedown videos (which they said they didn’t want to do anyway) but are left with somewhat fewer ways of protecting their own intellectual property.

In the best light, this was an example of the internet banding together to protect creativity. In the worst light, it was a confused mob fueled by questionable motives jeopardizing real people’s jobs for fun.




Novelist, YouTuber, Science Communicator, Community Organizer, Educational Media Creator

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Hank Green

Hank Green

Novelist, YouTuber, Science Communicator, Community Organizer, Educational Media Creator

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