No Free Speech In Advertising When It Comes To The Olympics
from the you-must-pay-up-first dept
Ah, the Olympics. While many people think of great sporting events, increasingly, it seems that the Olympics is becoming associated with heavy handed attempts to stop anyone from mentioning the Olympics without paying up first. A few years ago, the US Olympics committee went cease-and-desist happy by threatening anyone who used the word “Olympics” even if it was clear that the event was separate from the real Olympics. Then, at last year’s Athens Olympics, various radio stations were forced to turn off their regular internet streams because they had only paid for the radio rights, and not coughed up even more money for the internet radio rights. Then, athletes were told that they were not allowed to write about the Olympics on their own websites, as that might take away from the media companies that had paid to cover the Olympics. So, the latest news, submitted by John, is that over in the UK, a bill is being proposed that would make it illegal for an advertiser to mention the Olympics or use imagery related to the Olympics unless they were an official sponsor. This isn’t about trademark violations, which would be covered by existing law — but about specifically banning any reference to the games. Non-sponsoring advertisers could not use any combination of the following words: “games”, “medals”, “gold”, “2012”, “sponsor” or “summer” in any ads. The Olympics claims they need to do this to “protect” their sponsors — but it’s unclear why they deserve any kind of special protection. It’s just yet another case of people misusing intellectual property for their own short-term benefit. In this case, all it will serve to do is make the Olympics that much less interesting.