International Olympic Committee Goes Copyright (& Trademark) Crazy

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Cory Doctorow’s headline, Olympic Committee claims that photographing exterior of venues violates copyrights:

I hope that the IOC is aware that it’s about to show up in one of the most media-savvy towns in the world, and that trying to stop private citizens from posting “unauthorized” photos will be nothing short of a fool’s errand. This sort of hostility towards Olympic fans is both wasteful and pointless. Does the IOC not understand why people go to the Olympic Games? (Hint: to come home with once-in-a-lifetime memories. This includes things like… photos) If the IOC has trouble understanding what the Internet does, they can probably find someone to ask. My own consulting rate is quite reasonable.

Says Thomas Hawk, this really sucks:

Duncan [Riley] points us to the letter at left sent from the IOC’s Director of Legal Affairs, Howard M. Strupp, to photographer Richard Giles. The letter is a legal threat against Giles for hosting images of the Olympics on his Flickrstream in what the IOC feels is a violation of the terms and conditions of his ticket. You can read a large size version of the BS letter that the IOC sent to Giles here. [...]

The International Olympic Committee is being terribly proprietary with images of their events here and I hope this cease and desist letter backfires on them. I’m equally concerned that the IOC would consider use on Flickr as something other than private use. Flickr is a non-commercial website (by the definition of the terms and conditions of the site, unless approval is received from Flickr for commercial use) and a place for people to share photos with their family, friends and yes the world. That the IOC would go after non-commercial use is disturbing.

What’s even worse, it appears that the IOC is trying to argue with Giles that even using the *word* Olympics in his photostream is somehow some sort of violation.

In other Olympic bullying news, they are trying to block the Olympia, Washington, Olympian newspaper from trademarking its name:

It would appear that the Olympian has been operating since 1889. That would be seven years prior to the first modern “Olympics” in 1896.

Cory’s succinct assessment, “The Olympics may be the most overrated, corrupt, bullying institution we have on an international level (exempting corporations and organized crime syndicates).”

3 Comments

  1. The Olympian “got there” first with their name. They should trademark it and then sue the IOC for over a 100 years worth of trademark violations. That should keep the Olympian floating in money. :)

    This isn't the first time the Olympics has sued organizations over the name Olympics. The original name of the Gay Games was Gay Olympics until the IOC and the USOC sued them to change their name. I don't know how the “Special Olympics” continues to exist. Don't get me wrong, I think the Special Olympics are great and necessary. I just find it odd that the IOC and USOC are fine with “Special Olympics” but not the “Gay Olympics”.

    As far as corporate bullying. This is sort of a David and Goliath story…. About ten years ago Amazon Bookstore (a feminist bookstore in Minneapolis which has been in existence for decades) sued Amazon.com for trademark infringement. An agreement was reached out of court and both organizations continue to operate. Amazon.com is now in the S&P 100 (it replaced Merrill Lynch when ML was bought by BofA last year).

    Maybe Congress will trademark Capitol and ban photos taken of the building. It can improve national security too, since you won't have terrorists taking photos of a potential target, The Capitol. If this sounds absurd, it is. It's also what I think of the IOC attempting to ban photos of its venues.

  2. If I were Greek, I think I'd pursue litigation against the IOC for illegally using the name “Olympic” without the express written permission of Zeus.

    Morons.

  3. Along with the development of commercialism in college and related sports events several years ago (“the Nokia Sugar Bowl”), followed by renaming of sports fields (later, openly in exchange for large corporate “donations”), I noticed and detested the “Official Olympic” phrase attached to everything that could be claimed to be such. In fact, when in later years some conservative activists wanted to put Ronald Reagan's name not only on National Airport in Washington, DC, but on at least one thing in every county in the USA, I joked to a very liberal friend of mine that instead, the activists should try to use the “Official Olympic” approach but replace that phrase with “Ronald Reagan.” (We also would joke about taking a trip in Ronald Reagan Washington, DC, down Ronald Reagan 14th Street to Ronald Reagan Constitution Avenue, past the Ronald Reagan Washington Monument at the Ronald Reagan intersection when permitted to proceed by the Ronald Reagan traffic signal…)

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