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Youtube and Contestability - The Fine Brothers nearly changed the game

Jonny Clark

2nd February 2016

Here's a story that got me thinking about Youtube and concepts of Perfect Competition and contestability. Examples of perfect competition are thin on the ground and we talk much more about contestability these days as the means by which markets may remain competitive.

Technology often promotes contestability. Youtube is a fine example - apart from some subscriptions to their premium service, streaming videos is free. Uploading videos that millions of people may watch is also fairly cheap. Whilst the short-video streaming market may not be a traditional market, it definitely provides competition to paid-for streaming media firms like Netflix and Spotify.

A news report out today details how the Fine Brothers (Rafi and Benny) were attempting to trade mark certain 'styles' of video clips. The primary trade mark that they were trying to make legal was the name of the 'React' video - the concept of where you film someone's reaction to another video clip. Many Youtube users were up in arms about the Fine Brothers attempts - considering the trade mark of concepts like the 'react' as being counter to the culture of uploading free content. The Fine Brothers, however, were attempting to protect their property rights - a means by which they make their living. Today, the brothers announced that they were abandoning trade mark pursuit. Click here for their blog announcement.

Now, if you want to spend 5 minutes discussing this with your students and illustrating the point with a video from the brothers, try the one here. I challenge anyone not to laugh or smile when they get to the part about the dog staring at some cakes.

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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