Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter

from the and-the-gold-medal-in-promotional-idiocracy-goes-to... dept

And we've got yet another example of insane attempts by the Olympics to extend copyright and trademark law well beyond its stated intentions (which, tragically, some governments have been known to accept in order to get the Olympics on their home turf). This time, it involves the International Olympic Committee sending a cease-and-desist to a guy who posted the photos he took at the Beijing Olympics on Flickr. Seriously.

It's hard to understand what they're complaining about specifically. They mention that he violated the "terms and conditions" on the back of the ticket (which are often not enforceable, anyway) in "licensing pictures." Inquistr suggests the problem is that the guy, Richard Giles, put his own photos (on which he owns the copyright) on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. It's difficult to see what sort of leg the IOC has to stand on here (though, it may involve jurisdiction in a few different countries). The guy took photos himself -- so it's his copyright. Putting them under a CC license is then his decision. The trademark claims are laughable. At best, the IOC might be able to claim breach of contract in violating the "back of the ticket" agreement -- but even that seems like a stretch, and it's difficult to see what sort of "harm" the IOC could suggest these photos caused.

It's difficult to understand what the IOC thinks its accomplishing here. This was someone spreading the word (and view) of his Olympic attendance to his friends and many others online. You would think that would be seen as good and free advertising rather than as something for which the legal dogs should be unleashed. What sort of organization lets loose its lawyers on a fan posting photos showing off his cool experience attending an event? Honestly, I can't fathom what anyone at the IOC could possibly be thinking here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    THEM STEALERS ARE DESTROYING THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT!!!

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    thomas, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Next thing you know..

    Baseball, football, and soccer will sue people take pictures during the games then post them on flickr or their own blogs. Maybe they will start searching people entering the stadium and refusing admission to anyone with a camera, which would be laughable considering how many phones have cameras too.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:50am

      Re: Next thing you know..

      I was at a convention that had a section that did that "to protect the artists copyright". For the first three days, I refused to walk into it. When I finally was convinced to walk in there (I didn't have a camera anyways) every single one of the artists had a web page with their artwork on it.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re: Next thing you know..

        Reminds me of an odd story... I have commissioned an artist in the past at a convention about to make me a picture. He asked if he could put it on his website and said sure. Two years later he was selling the same print he made for me at a 4th of the cost I paid him to make it. I didn't say anything about it and was just pleasant. He turned white when he realized who I was. I didn't, and still don't, care that he was selling the picture for less now, but if I was a legal jerk could I have sued him for this?

        A bit more on topic of your "to protect the artists copyright" sections at conventions I was happy that one artist that made a huge model of Big O at Otakon specifically allowed people to take pictures of it in the no camera zone.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 10:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Next thing you know..

          Most artists retain rights to their works, even if they are commissioned, so likely not. Unless you had a contract with him stating you gained all rights, then he's safe.

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    F'em

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    Of course

    The Olympics make a lot of money selling the media rights to the events. If they allow someone who only paid for a ticket to "report" on an event, they think they diminish the value of these rights.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    Honestly, I can't fathom what anyone at the IOC could possibly be thinking here.


    Apparently in the modern world, accepted ideals are strictly for-profit.

    Of course, there's always the fact that "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS KILLING THE SPIRIT OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND PEACEFUL COMPETITION THAT USED TO BE THE OLYMPICS. PIRATES ARE KILLING WORLD PEACE".

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS KILLING THE SPIRIT OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND PEACEFUL COMPETITION THAT USED TO BE THE OLYMPICS. PIRATES ARE KILLING WORLD PEACE".

      Funny thing, I actually agree with that comment. Copyright infringement and "piracy" are pointing out the absolute stupidity of how copyright is today and it's also pointing out how some Americans* are forcing insane laws down other countries throats. This causes animosity between nations and when that final thing happens, that could have been settled by talking, WWIII.

      Now, the solution to this problem is not to get rid of the "pirates" but to reset copyright back to the way it was initially (and stop shoving our ideals down others throats). Back to where it encouraged the progression of the sciences and arts.

      *at this point what they are doing is almost treasonous, they should not be called Americans any more.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re:

        This causes animosity between nations and when that final thing happens, that could have been settled by talking, WWIII.


        Grim and unfortunately insightful. The tensions mounting before WWII definately were the result of economic power plays, protectionism *and imperialism. Frankly I think that imperialism played much less during the mounting tension before the invasions started than some accounts would lead us to believe.

        I had not been thinking along those lines at the time of the rant. Sad that even hindsight is blurred by temporal impulses, in myself and in the lemming idiots "weathering" the current crisis by trying to squeeze every ounce of gold out of the world "before it ends" (counting money they have NOW is the only life to these dangerous fools).

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Kyote (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The thing is, for many businesses anyway, another war would likely be good for the bottom line...

          Sad that it may indeed come to war3.

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Business as usual for the IOC, which "protects" every glancing reference to the five-rings mark. I once attempted to buy stock footage of the city of Grenoble, France and found that although the entire Pathe' newsreel collection was licensed by this particular library, they were enjoined from providing any frames that contained depictions of things Olympic(tm). That included not just newsworthy stadium events, but also public parades in town and certain scenic shots which might reveal all or part of the logo. Misguided and mercenary.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    John (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Gotta Wonder

    who's idea is it anyway to go after these people... the lawyers or management?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Benjie, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:19am

    New rule

    For every copyright infringement, the infringer should be able to charge 10xs the amount being sued for "advertisement costs"

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Alexyah, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Did you actually READ the letter?

    I guess not! Because you'd know then that what they're asking him is to stop licensing the pics. They never say they want him to take down the pictures but just stop distributing them under CC license.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:58am

      Re: Did you actually READ the letter?

      Actually, you'll notice that the post says:

      "Inquistr suggests the problem is that the guy, Richard Giles, put his own photos (on which he owns the copyright) on Flickr under a Creative Commons license."

      And also, quite correctly, that:

      "It's difficult to see what sort of leg the IOC has to stand on here [...]. The guy took photos himself -- so it's his copyright. Putting them under a CC license is then his decision."

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Alexyah, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: Did you actually READ the letter?

        I read on another site that apparently the guy might have sold the pictures (???) and in addition, it was used to promote something on the back of an athlete without asking him for permission...

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Did you actually READ the letter?

          If he holds the copyright, he should be able to sell the pictures as he pleases.

          As for the athlete "promotion", I would need more information to come to a conclusion, however:

          1) It would be a trademark violation of the athlete's name at most (and the IOC would have no standing there, as far as I can see).

          2) There would have to be actual promotion involved. Simply including a picture (or digital representation, as recently decided by a judge in a sports game case) of an athlete in a product does not necessarily imply endorsement or trademark infringement.

           

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

      •  
        identicon
        Alexyah, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re: Did you actually READ the letter?

        I read on another site that apparently the guy might have sold the pictures (???) and in addition, it was used to promote something on the back of an athlete without asking him for permission...

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    Never much cared for sports...

    Can't wait for the day when they piss off the fans so much that commercial sports will no longer be economically viable and we can get rid of it.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Steve, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Ever tried taking a real camera to a sporting event?

    If you try taking a digital SLR with a decent lens to a sporting event, they will kindly offer to store it for you while you watch the game. Decent images are all the property of the sports governing body (NHL, NBA, etc).

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:23am

      Re: Ever tried taking a real camera to a sporting event?

      Bringing in a camera and taking pictures of a sporting event may be against the terms of use you agreed to when you bought your ticket, but that doesn't give the sport's covering body the copyright on those photos.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Rights holders don't like anything free, even advertising. I am surprised the camera manufacturers are not claiming to own your pictures, you took it with a camera they made, right?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Get over it. The IOC holds the rights, and while you may not like what they are doing with them, it is their right to say no to these sorts of images.

    If they don't want the free advertising, quit trying to jam it down their throats, it isn't your choice.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Shawn (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:27am

      Re:

      And how did you come to the conclusion that the IOC holds the rights?

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Alexyah, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re:

        Well, in fact, it seems that in many countries, like in the US, the organizer of the event holds the right to the event and the images of the event (NBA, NFL, NHL, etc). That does not question the copyright of the pictures you take: you own them, no issue. But the use you make of them may be subject to other people's authorization. I think professional photographers who are accredited to such events have to ask for permission to use their own pictures. So I guess the rule is the same for individuals...

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am aware of "copyright", but what is an "eventright"?

          If a Google Maps satellite takes a picture of my backyard barbecue from space, can I send out my lawyers to protect my "eventright"?

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      John Doe, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      Copyright is a privilege, not a right.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Ladycass, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re:

        Copyright IS a right, not a privilege! Anything YOU write or create is automatically copywritten and no one else has the right to use it without your permission, or giving credit to the owner.

         

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

    •  
      identicon
      Sheinen, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      The point isn't that they DO have the right, it's that IF they do they SHOULDN'T!

      If I take a picture, it's my picture. I've taken nothing, I've stolen nothing and I've hurt nothing. No-one is any worse off for my having taken that picture.

      Surely the legal system is in place to prevent harm...so point me to the harm and I'll side with you, otherwise, do one.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:04am

        Re: Re:

        Wrong.

        It's an important thing to learn, you may take a picture and own the rights to that picture, but you don't always have license to the things that appear in the picture. Thus, locations, events, performers, etc - you may not have the right to distribute those images in public without their permission. They have the rights to control their image, their likeness, and their brand.

        If you take the pictures for yourself and enjoy them yourself (and say with family) you are fine. Put them on the internet, and even if you are not getting paid, it is still a public exhibition, performance.

        So you have rights to your image, they have rights to the content - they aren't trying to get control of the images, only to stop their public exhibition.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It's an important thing to learn, you may take a picture and own the rights to that picture, but you don't always have license to the things that appear in the picture. Thus, locations, events, performers, etc - you may not have the right to distribute those images in public without their permission."

          Have anything to back that up? Because I think you're very wrong.

          Trademark is based on preventing people from (A) Passing their goods off as someone else's and (B) implying endorsement by a particular person, corporation, or brand that has not actually provided an endorsement.

          It is absolutely not meant to be used to prevent anyone from talking about or referencing a particular trademarked item (i.e. the "You can't talk bad about my business because the name of my business is trademarked and I don't give you permission to use it." garbage we see businesses trying to get away with today).

          If I post a picture I took on the internet and there happens to be a McDonald's in the background, McDonalds's can't demand that I take it down (well, they can demand it, but that doesn't change the fact that they'll lose in court) unless they can prove that I'm using their trademark in a fraudulent manner.

          If companies want to prevent people from taking and distributing pictures of their events, they can put it in their Terms of Service or in some other contract language, but that only applies to people who have agreed to said contract (e.g. a ticket purchaser), and it isn't a copyright violation if those terms are broken, it's a breach of contract.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Sheinen, Oct 10th, 2009 @ 4:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So what about the pictures of celebrities snorting coke in crappy newspapers? What gives a papp the legal right to take pictures of whatever he wants and have them publicly displayed?

          My point is that the law is supposed to protect people - the man who uploaded these pictures to Flickr caused NO varifiable harm to anyone, so it's a waste of resources and time.

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    NullOp, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    JHC

    Jesus H. Christ! The Olympic Committee is THE most backward, pinheaded, euro-centric group on this Earth! For the love of God, bring the Olympics to the New World and the 21st century.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Vic, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Olympic - is it in any dictionary? Whith a written consent from an IOC?

    The C&D (pictured below) even goes as far as suggesting that Richard’s use of the word “Olympic” is also illegal because it cannot be used without “prior written consent.”

    Olympic, Olympic, Olympic, Olympic, Olympic, Olympic,
    Olympic rings, Olympic rings, Olympic rings, Olympus...

    here you are IOC! Send me a C&D!

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Sergio, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Who Cares?

    If the Olympics stopped taking place, would people really care? We have so many things to watch and do that I don't think if this were to go away that it would have any significan't impact on anyone's life (except maybe Olympic athletes).

    We watch the Olympics because they're on, plain and simple. I think we all have an obligation to let these morons know that if they don't evolve with us and our wants, then we're not going to watch them.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    suprspi (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Re: Next thing you know..

    "Most artists retain rights to their works, even if they are commissioned, so likely not. Unless you had a contract with him stating you gained all rights, then he's safe."

    -Depends on the country and local laws governing. In Canada (where I live) art commissioned is copyright the person commissioning the art. (Work for Hire Laws). Photographers, Painters, Sculptors etc. have to have the copyright assigned back to them via a legal agreement, usually part of the contract they work under if they want the copyright- these laws differ place to place though.

    As to the IOC holding the rights, unless you had a model release (needed for buildings and such too sometimes if it's recognizable) they should be able to license "how" you use the images - a public performance like putting them on flickr - may very well be contrary to their acceptable use of the recognizable aspects of the event, players etc. The artist would still hold the copyright of the images, but not the right to display them publicly. Of course, those laws would be subject to change depending on country/state laws etc. as well I think.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    johnney (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    The olympics have become nothing more than a money grab as have ALL major sports venues.
    The 'committee' needs to see who can jump furthest off of the nearest cliff. I'll be first to take the bets. Dollar bets of course. Sporting indeed.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:10pm

    And this is a reason why I refuse to watch the Olympics

    Between the steroid epidemic, the bankrupting of host cities, and the IOC's utterly absurd views on IP, I refuse to watch the Olympics. I haven't watched them since the ones in Atlanta and I sure as hell ain't gonna watch any future ones.

    Even the NFL and Major League Baseball aren't this crazy when it comes to greed (well, maybe except for Dan Snyder in Washington).

    I cheered when Chicago didn't get the Olympics. Nothing against Obama or the Windy City, but those greedy a**holes can take their exhibition of greed and steroids elsewhere.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Ladycass, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Olympics

    Personally, I think the Olympics should be banned. It's gone way beyond its mandate, and what it was originally supposed to be. All the athletes are professional, the US whines if it can't have its own way, and I, for one, do not support the games as they now are. Call me a traitor if you want, but , at least at this moment, we have the right of free speech, and to express our opinions.

    The money could be much better spent on *important* things, such as education, affordable housing and health care.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      btr1701 (profile), Oct 13th, 2009 @ 5:59am

      Re: Olympics

      > The money could be much better spent on
      > *important* things

      Or here's a thought: don't spend it at all. Give it back to the people to whom it belongs. Better yet, don't take it in the first place.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Di, Feb 13th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    "So what about the pictures of celebrities snorting coke in crappy newspapers? What gives a papp the legal right to take pictures of whatever he wants and have them publicly displayed?"

    In the US, if it is public view, then it's fair game. Inside a vehicle is considered "public," which I don't agree with (actually, this could be a state thing - you can't have tinted windows in the front in my state for this reason), but if a celeb is involved with hanky panky or coke snorting in his or vehicle, it's fair game.

    Not all tabloid photos are legally acquired, but the only people who can fight this are those in the photos/slandered. Then it's a question of whether or not it's worth wasting money on lawsuits when the photos are already out there in thousands/millions of magazines and on websites.

    "US whines if it can't have its own way"

    Wow, so you think the US shouldn't band together with other countries to hold the IOC and its judges accountable? Figure skating is an excellent example of how the athletes get screwed by money and power in the Olympics (judges were paid off to give higher marks to certain figure skaters, just in case you didn't know about that).

    ***

    Well, I used the word "Olympic" several times in my blog, today. If the IOC has a problem with it, they can kiss my ass. I am an American whose website is hosted on an American web server and my writings and photography are protected under the First Amendment.

    I will watch the Olympics because I like and participate in winter sports. The athletes are great motivators for me. In addition, no one is making money off of me because I'm not one for following the direction of commercials. :-D

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This