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.

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

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32 Comments
Olympic Games non watcher says:

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.

I like Mike (profile) says:

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 !@#$%^&*()_+”;:./?

Not funny says:

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.

iphone says:

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?

WarOtter (profile) says:

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!

captain flummox (user link) says:

“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?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Mystified Mind says:

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 …”

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

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”.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

pv says:

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?

Power Hungry says:

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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