The recent attempt by the Fine Brothers to have YouTube take down “REACT” format type videos made by others showed how the public and the Fine Brothers react in a situation involving a misunderstanding of intellectual property law. Since 2010 the Fine Brothers have become famous for their YouTube series of “react” format videos under the name React World in which the reaction of people of all ages to various situations was featured. The React World series gained great popularity for the Fine Brothers; however, others also started to make their own videos showing reactions of people in various situations.

The History of The React Video

In 2012 to 2015 the Fine Brothers commenced an effort to monetize their react video series by applying for protection of their intellectual property rights and to enforce such rights against others who were making “react” format videos if they did not agree to an expensive license to make such videos. As part of that effort, the Fine Brothers applied for trademarks for such words as KIDS REACT, TEENS REACT, ELDERS REACT, ADULTS REACT, CELEBRITIES REACT, PARENTS REACT and even the word REACT by itself. In addition the Fine Brothers also applied for copyrights registration on their videos.

Takedown and Trademark Backfire

As part of their monetization and enforcement efforts The Fine Brothers threatened others making react format videos and requested that YouTube take down all such videos if the authors did not enter into an expensive license to do so. The ensuing reactions to the latter could have been the theme of two new “react” videos. One video could have been the reaction of the public to the Fine Brothers actions, which was swift and negative as YouTube viewers of the Fine Brothers’ react series decreased substantially. The second video could have been the reaction of the Fine Brothers, which was to abandon all of their trademark applications and their monetization and enforcement efforts, including their takedown requests.

Knowledge is Power in Intellectual Property Law

The Fine Brothers’ failed efforts illustrate a common misunderstanding of intellectual property law, more specifically their apparent mistaken belief that copyrights protect the idea embodied in a work, in this case the “react” type videos, rather than the expression and their apparent mistaken belief that trademarks protect generic or merely descriptive names, in this case the word “react” to describe a react type videos.