Fine Brothers History Of Overaggressive Behavior Doomed Their Plan; But Hopefully Others Will Revive The Good Parts
from the there-really-were-some-good-parts dept
I kind of figured a lot of people would disagree with my post yesterday, in which I noted that the underlying idea behind what the Fine Brothers were trying to do in helping to support fans in making their own versions of the various “React” programs was actually a good idea. The point was that the idea behind it was actually pretty good. A big brand/entertainment property encouraging fans to make their own versions of their program, helping them with additional support, promoting those fan videos and helping them make money — in exchange for a cut of the revenue — remains a cool idea. Unfortunately, the idea came from a company that had a really bad history of overly aggressive behavior in taking down content, deleting negative comments and ridiculously and petulantly claiming that anything remotely similar to what they did was somehow unfair. The examples of them whining about Buzzfeed and Ellen having similar segments was particularly galling. On top of that, the trademarking of various terms, including the very generic “React” really pushed things in the wrong direction.
Many of you insisted that it was impossible to separate out these actions from the underlying idea of supporting fan videos — and you’re probably right. It’s good to see that the Fine Brothers have now completely backed down from the plan, shutting down React World and announcing that they’ve decided to drop all of their trademark claims. On top of that they’ve agreed to drop all of their ContentID claims on YouTube. At this point, that was the only thing they really could do, and it was clearly the right move. Their history of overly aggressive behavior really made it impossible to do something else.
But… I’m hoping that people can still separate out the core idea that was there behind React World, and distance it from the fact that it was being put in place by people who had too much bad history to make it work. I still think that it would be great if other big brands recognized the value in freely supporting fans in making their own fan works, and even allowing them to monetize those works. Right now, fan homages to books, TV shows, movies and more live in a nebulous world in which, if they get too big, or even try to make any money, the companies behind the brands often shut them down completely. If you want to do something professional — such as that big Star Trek Fan Film that is currently facing a lawsuit — it’s basically impossible. And that’s a shame.
But imagine if some of these larger entities took the same approach as the key parts of the Fine Bros plan: allowing anyone to make stuff, even providing them with additional assets including tools, graphics, guidelines, etc. And then even saying that they’ll help support and promote the best ones, in exchange for a cut of the profits? It could really lead to some cool new creativity from fans and more closely attach those fans to the originals. It’s that underlying idea that I found intriguing from what the Fine Brothres had put together — without recognizing how incredibly imperfect the Fine Brothers were as the individuals to deliver that message. So it’s good that the Fine Brothers have recognized their past errors and backed down on basically all of their more egregious moves (not sure about their aggressive comment deletion stuff, though). But I hope that this doesn’t doom any other larger entertainment property from entertaining ideas around supporting fans creating their own works, without upfront licensing fees.