Copyright Out Of Control: Does Saying '2012 Olympic Games' Violate All Sorts Of Copyright Laws?

from the have-fun-with-it dept

It's been nearly two years since we wrote about the effort by the folks who run the Olympics to have British law changed to provide special copyright protection for the word "Olympics" and even "2012" (as that's when the Olympics will be held in London). This was hardly the first (nor last) time that the Olympics had gone overboard in trying to protect its brand. Years ago, they started threatening anyone who used the word, and more recently sought similar legal changes in Canada for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (that's gonna cost me...). Over in the UK, playwright and president of the Writer's Guild, David Edgar is talking about how ridiculous all this is, specifically pointing to the Olympic committee's concern over a new novel called "Olympic Mind Games." Eventually (perhaps realizing the ridicule it would generate), it decided not to sue the author, but based on the law, it probably could have. As Edgar writes:
By declaring images, titles and now words to be ownable brands, these various organisations and individuals are contributing to an increased commodification and thus privatisation of materials previously agreed to be in the public domain. For scientists, this constrains the use of public and published knowledge, up to and including the human genome. For artists, it implies that the only thing you can do with subject matter is to sell it.
Edgar goes on to point to other similarly ridiculous attempts to misuse copyright or trademark law to prevent certain actions. The key problem here (once again) is that too many people now believe that the purpose of intellectual property laws is "protection" of the creator/owner. That's simply not true. The purpose of copyright law is to create the incentives to create the content in question. The purpose of trademark law, is really about consumer protection -- and making sure that someone doesn't buy something under the false impression that it was made and/or endorsed by someone else. Obviously, both of these require some amount of protection to make those things possible -- but in every instance, it should be viewed under the light of the original purpose of both laws. If the control is not related to the original incentive to create, or in preventing consumer confusion -- then the exercises in control should not be allowed under those laws.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Olympic Games non watcher, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    I've boycotted every Olympics since they switched from Every four years to every other year winter/summer.
    The games are over commercialized and I refuse to watch them until the come to their senses.
    The athletes should be unpaid amateurs.
    The games should be copyright and restriction free.
    Let anyone blog about the games.
    How will they make money? Ticket sales, concessions, souvenirs, lodging, parking ... how did they make money back in the day?
    Maybe the olympics need to make LESS money and be more about the actual sports.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    I like Mike, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 8:57am

    You are violating my copyright

    This message is to inform you I am copyrighting the numbers 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, & 9. Any use of these numbers in any combination constitutes a violation of my copyright. If you want to refer to numbers you must spell them out.

    I am filing suit against, well, everyone for misuse of my copyright. See you in court!

    Next up, my copyright of the following symbols !@#$%^&*()_+";:./?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Rob Blatt, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:10am

    We have something like this in America, but it's not as extreme as "2012". It's "Superbowl".

    Remind me to copyright 2020 and all even numbers north of that. I figure I'll need something to retire on.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    tribster, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:13am

    Post 1.

    You may do so but i must Warn you in doing so you have Violated my Patent on Said Letters numbers and if you do not Decist Immediately i will be forced to use legal Means which may include(But not Exclusive to)Contacting you provider and Suing you(and Michael Arrington For good Measure).

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    bored now, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:15am

    trademark not copyright

    which you'd have known, if you'd bothered to re-read the article you linked to.

    Still, it wouldn't do to let the facts get in the way of the message, as the environmentalists like to say.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    I like Mike, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    You're so sued!!! You used the numbers 0,1 & 2 without my permission. Make your check payable to Iownallnumbers-muhahahaha!.com

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    I like Mike, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    You're so sued!!! You used the numbers 0,1 & 2 without my permission. Make your check payable to Iownallnumbers-muhahahaha!.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:22am

    Incentive is the reason for copyright...

    ...except in every other portion of the world where it is considered more like an absolute property right inherent the created work.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Not funny, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 9:40am

    Patents, Trademarks, and other thievery

    "This message is to inform you I am copyrighting the numbers 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, & 9. Any use of these numbers in any combination constitutes a violation of my copyright. If you want to refer to numbers you must spell them out."

    You're too late...a search of the US patent DB shows that the use of numbers is already patented in multiple instances, as is the generic use of "regular expressions" and other mathematical concepts that may be used to "do something that sounds technical" currently undefined by the actual patent. All one has to do to acheive this is to word the patent is such manner that the examiner doesn't recogize the obviousness. This isn't difficult considering our remedially trained workforce. In short order the color "green" (patented as use of all spectral emination of 495–570 nm in anything to be created in the future) can be your own corporate property for perpetuity!

    I'm not even certain the alphabet can be used at will anymore.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 10:46am

    Is this copyright or trademark?

    All the articles I've read about this fiasco use the word "copyright," but that doesn't really make any sense. You certainly could not copyright a word in the US. But maybe the UK is different.

    Is there anyone out there familiar with British copyright laws to explain how this is possible?! Thanks in advance.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 10:50am

    Ok, I'll be sure not to say a damn word about it at all.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    iphone, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:02am

    2012 Olympics will suck as well

    the olympics are no fun with out a cold war...now if BinLaden can get a few teams together, not to bomb the 2012 olympics but to compete in them, it will finally be worth watching again...

    now what's interesting is some guy named David Chmaberlain in London has the domain 2012sucks.com...what's going to happen to him. Shot in a tube station?

     

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  13.  
    icon
    WarOtter (profile), Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:05am

    My Solemn Olympic Oath

    Yeah the Olympic 2012 committee has my promise that I'll not use the name Olympic in any Olympic reference that could Olympic the Olympic Olympic. Olympically, Olympic can Olympic Olympic the OlympicOlympicOlympic in 2012 Olympics Olympic Olympicced Olympic and can Olympic Olympic in Olympic and Olympic a giant Olympic in a large bowl of fruit salad.

    ..
    ..
    ...
    Olympic!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    captain flummox, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:26am

    "too many people now believe that the purpose of intellectual property laws is "protection" of the creator/owner. That's simply not true. The purpose of copyright law is to create the incentives to create the content in question.."

    Help me grasp this, please. If a creator/owner's incentive is monetization of their work, then wouldn't a copyright law accomplish that by protecting the intellectual property?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Mystified Mind, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    easy solution

    I've said it before about pro sports leagues who sue everybody who prints or speaks their trademarked/copyrighted ultimate events and I'll repeat it now about I.O.C. - BOYCOTT the idiots. Don't attend their regular season events. Don't even watch them on TV, especially if you are part of the Neilson (?) ratings system. Don't buy their over-priced logo-wear. Don't buy their software game simulators. Don't play in fantasy leagues based on their players (and get a life while you're at it.) Two years of serious boycotting will leave them begging you to buy their game tickets and by then the prices are likely to be a bit more reasonable.

    If I owned a TV station or radio station I would give the numb skulls almost no coverage - "Oh, by the way, there is a big sports event this weekend, but it will probably be a major disappointment and if I identify the organization for you I will be sued by the big babies, so 'nuf said about that and let's move on to local amateur sports ..."

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Mystified Mind, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    difficult problem

    Now, how do we get rid of the jerks who make comments like the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th posters above?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    15th!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    Re: My Solemn Olympic Oath

    i lold

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    the judge, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    verdict

    Mike only kept us talking for about 4 hours this time. Was it his post or the initial flurry of inane comments?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 12:35pm

    Irrelevant games

    Much like the Nobel Peace Prize committee, the folks who run the Olympics are making that event irrelevant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 12th, 2007 @ 12:48pm

    Re:


    Help me grasp this, please. If a creator/owner's incentive is monetization of their work, then wouldn't a copyright law accomplish that by protecting the intellectual property?


    It may be a fine line, but it's important. Copyright isn't about *protecting* the rights of the creator. If that were the case, then it wouldn't be for a limited time and it wouldn't be so limited. It's about creating an initial and temporary monopoly solely for the sake of adding incentives for creation.

    The problem when you think about it as protecting the rights of creators, then you want to keep extending it and not make it temporary or limited. After all, if it's a "right" that needs protecting, there's no reason to only partly protect it or do so for a limited time.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Oct 12th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    This just in...

    The 2012 Olympic(tm)(c)(Patent Pending) Committee has just announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Cunard-White Star Lines for "gross and negligent intellectual property infringement, abduction and subversion".

    An Olympic Committee spokesperson in an interview said, "How dare they! There it is! In letters 5 feet tall on the side of that rusting hulk at the bottom of the ocean. The word "Olympic" is ours and ours alone and the Cunard-White Star Line needs to have our word removed from thier nasty old crumpled shipwreck. Do you know how many submariners read that word everyday without compensating us for the pleasure?"

    A Cunard official, when contacted for a comment, laughed and then called the Olympic Committee "a bunch of titanic idiots".

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    The way to beat them (and everyone else) at their

    Step 1 - Start a company - I am going to start a company called Copyright. In fact I will incorporate it in the United States, England, South Africa, Germany, Japan and Australia
    Step 2 - Trademark it in those countries - so that I get trademark protection
    Step 3 - Law$uit$ - Sue anyone that uses the name of my company
    Step 4 - Profit!!!

    ---
    Ok I'm off to the post office with my filled out forms!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:19pm

    Re: trademark not copyright

    Mike didn't say they were. Perhaps you should follow your own advice and reread what he wrote.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 11:25pm

    Re: difficult problem

    STFU

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Some One, Oct 13th, 2007 @ 12:12pm

    still every 4 years

    Its still every 4 years. Summer happens every 4 years, and winter happens every 4 years.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    pv, Oct 13th, 2007 @ 5:47pm

    If I were to make a T-shirt with the slogan 'Stuff the Olympics' (or something ruder) for those like me who loathe the fascistic orgy of selfish, pointless glory hunting and pharmacuticals that the modern event is, and _deeply_ resent being obliged to pay for it for the rest of my life out of their council tax, would that lead to legal action on the grounds that it could be confused with an 'official Olympic product' (which was the basis for the complaint about the book)?
    Perhaps the Bush administration should trademark 'Iraq war', thus making it impossible for those opposed to it to refer to it?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    charles, Oct 25th, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    venti

    Starbucks tradmarked venti. Twenty in Italian. Starbucks owns it. Stellar dollars owns it. http://www.wifinetnews.com/archives/003070.html

    Im gonna own venti uno, and make a fortune! Who's with me?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Power Hungry, Oct 27th, 2007 @ 11:52am

    I'm suing the whole English speaking world

    I’ve just copywrited the word “copywrite” including all forms & instances of it’s usage. I also have a copywrite on the words “the”, “and”, “it”, “to” & “all”. So you’ll all be hearing from my new army of attorneys soon.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a long list of companies to sue first (because they’ve got more money than you do).

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Donald, Mar 10th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    suing the bad at spelling

    Power Hungry: by copyrighting "copywrite" you'll only make money out of those who can't spell.

    I guess that is the mass market though ...

     

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  31.  
    icon
    EnglishPirate (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:02am

    Can't be sued for misspelling then??!!

    That's it! I got it!

    OLIMPYKS - OLLYIMPICZ - OLIYMPYCS - ULLYMPIKZ !!!

    Can't get sued for that rubbish!

    As far as I am concerned, I lost my respect for The GAMMEZ and the organizers can literally stuff it!

     

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  32.  
    icon
    EnglishPirate (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    A FRIEND SUGGESTED AN EVEN BETTER ONE!!

    OLYMPIGS!!!

    LOLz!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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