A long time ago, The Fine Brothers did something very cool on Youtube. They created reaction videos, which are videos that record a person’s reaction to come type of content (music video, youtube video, commercials, songs, etc.). They eventually created well-known series such as Kids React, Seniors React, Teens React, and so on. They were essentially the first on Youtube to create videos like this, and in their enormous popularity, they sparked a popular internet fad known as “reaction videos”. Everyone, at some point, has done a reaction video on their channel. Even I have.
I recently unsubscribed from The Fine Brothers channel, along with over 170,000 people. The reason being, they have tried to trademark the word “react”. If you know anything about trademark laws, then you know that if Company A, feels that Company B has made a brand that looks similar to Company A’s brand, then Company A will send a cease and desist letter to Company B. If that doesn’t work, Company A will sue Company B. This is to prevent trademark confusion.
A popular example of trademark disputes, is Disney vs. deadmau5. Deadmau5, for most of his career, has had a black mouse logo, with crossed out eyes and a big grin. We all know the difference between Mickey Mouse and deadmau5, but Disney didn’t think we were capable of distinguishing the two trademarks. So much so, that Disney took deadmau5 to court, and won.
If Disney had not won, and deadmau5 was allowed to keep his original trademark, then deadmau5 could actually go to a group like Modestep, for example, and tell them that because their logo of an emoticon with crossed out eyes, looks too similar to the crossed out eyes on the deadmau5 trademark, and thus sue them. The original creators of emoticons, could probably sue Modestep, as well.
Trademark battles are supposed to be a matter of PROVING that the trademark infringes another trademark, so much so that consumers would get the two trademarks confused and buy the wrong content. In other words, Disney was worried that people would buy deadmau5 music, thinking it had to do with Mickey Mouse. But what if someone buys a Mickey Mouse product, thinking it is deadmau5? Disney makes bank, but deadmau5 isn’t represented in that kind of scenario.
So the reason I bring all of this up, is to explain why what The Fine Brothers are doing, is a very, very bad idea. Trademarks are very important to Youtube channels. I have distinctive logos on my channel, just like most other Youtubers do. Our trademarks define our channels. Trademarking the names of series such as Kids React, makes perfect logical sense, because Kids React is a distinctive series name that appeared on their channel first. But now, The Fine Brothers want to trademark the word “react”. React is so commonly used, and not always for a reaction video. Putting the word “react” in a video title, possibly even it just being in commentary, could allow The Fine Brothers to attack other Youtube channels and take them down. We have seen what has happened to Youtube channels which are unfairly attacked, like the Revenge and TNT parody videos by Captainsparklez and TryHardNinja. According to the law, if I make a parody video of a song or TV show or movie, it is protected from the original content owners claiming copyright over it. But not all Youtubers have the funds to fight a lawsuit when big-name companies disregard the law and claim copyright over parodies. Also, when a big-name company claims something in your video belongs to them, Youtube will make the video private, or make it unavailable in most countries, or delete it completely. In essence, that Youtuber now needs to prove they are innocent, which is not how our justice system works.
So what if, tomorrow, I upload a PARODY video of The Fine Brothers’ series, Kids React? Even if I change the title to something other than “Kids React”, they also trademarked the format of that series, so they could still claim that my video infringes their trademark.
It is always important for Youtbers to protect their trademarks. Examples are the “CS” logo from Jordan Maron’s channel, Captainsparklez, and the golden lion from Tom Cassell’s channel, TheSyndicateProject. But a word like “react” is just too generic to be trademarked. It gives The Fine Brothers too much power to strike down other Youtube channels that could become very popular from an internet fad that they started. They couldn’t be happy with the credit of creating a giant internet fad that will exist for a very long time. Instead, they had to get greedy, and get competitive.
Competitiveness on Youtube is why some channels suck. I remember how much my channel sucked before I started playing mini-games on a Minecraft server called Mineplex. People came on my channel and begged me to collaborate with other Youtube channels. I searched high and low, and eventually found another Youtuber who I am collaborating with. There is also a close friend of mine who I will collaborate in the future. The thing is, collaborative videos are often unique, and they expose viewers to something new. In addition, listening to two people talk to each other, and talk to you (the viewer), is far more interesting than watching any of my solo series. I like to watch solo series, and multiplayer series, and on rare occasions, both things can be really terrible. I grew up playing games WITH PEOPLE, and I just sound so more hilarious and dorky when I collaborate with other gamers.
There is a downside to collaboration, however. A good example is The Realm of Mianite, a Minecraft multiplayer server ran by some big-name Youtubers. The series quickly gained success after Captainpsarklez was invited to join. At first, everything was fine, but over time, a huge number of viewers felt the series took a dramatic turn and went from a storyline to a factions server (in a factions server, people are divided into groups and fight each other with no purpose other than to fight). Sometimes, when Youtubers collaborate, they show their true colors, and can appear like people who are high maintenance and impossible to deal with. For Captainsparklez, in season one he was too serious, and was terrible at PvP (player vs. player), so much so that he whined. A lot. And many of us got sick of watching it. He was so terrible at PvP, that he had to set up rules to make things “fair”, in other words, players could only fight each other with set parameters, so there was no strategy involved. No creativity. Because of the childishness of Captainpsarklez and other people on the server, one player in particular, Champwan, began using a function within Minecraft that enables hitboxes, which was never against the rules. Captainsparklez accused Champwan of cheating, which caused him to spend less time on the server. We barely saw Champwan during season two of The Realm of Mianite. Sometimes, Youtubers feel they need to take down other Youtubers because they are either insecure, or feel like they aren’t as skilled as other Youtubers, or they have let their popularity go to their head.