Olympic Level Ridiculousness: You Can't Link To The Olympics Website If You Say Something Mean About Them

from the watch-me dept

For years, we’ve highlighted the overaggressive nature of the Olympics in over-protecting their intellectual property — even to the level of getting host countries to pass special IP laws that only apply to the Olympics. But this sense of ultimate entitlement seems to pervade everything that the Olympics does. It was recently noted that the terms of use for the London 2012 website include a restriction on how you can link to the site:

Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.

There are other insane statements in the terms, including that you automatically agree to be “legally bound” by the terms simply by using the site. That’s not how a contract works, guys.

Either way, this claim that you can’t link to their site in a “derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner” has inspired the creativity of the internet, it appears. Specifically, lots of folks have taken to Twitter to share their own derogatory or otherwise objectionable statements along with links to the website. Asher Wolf and Meredith Patterson have done a really nice job curating some of the insults that are currently raining down on the Olympics for their linking policy. We’ve included a couple of screenshots (below the fold).

I recognize that there are some other sites who have used this kind of language in the past, and that some overcharging lawyer was probably just trying to set up a “cover their ass” policy for the Olympics, but it’s amazing that any competent individual lets those kinds of things out into the world these days without realizing that it’s clearly going to create the exact opposite incentives.

And, hell, just for fun, check out this link to an obnoxious organization that loves censorship and doesn’t respect free speech. And I say that in a derogatory and objectionable manner.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Olympic Level Ridiculousness: You Can't Link To The Olympics Website If You Say Something Mean About Them”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
115 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

There are other insane statements in the terms, including that you automatically agree to be “legally bound” by the terms simply by using the site. That’s not how a contract works, guys.

I’m sorry, but can you explain how you can use a site without being bound by the terms of use of that site? Please explain, oh great understander of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

i’m guessing you are a troll. but just in case, for your edification:
1. creating a hyperlink to a site from one’s own site and using a site are not legally synonymous
2. unreasonable or unlawful terms of use are not enforceable by law
3. even if we grant that hyperlinking to a site activates the site’s terms of use, there is some legal gray area as to whether the terms of use could be binding, whether loading a page in a browser constitutes meaningful consent, etc.

maclypse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ever received one of those legal bullshit e-mails from a law firm like Johnson, Pecker and Dickins? They all state at the bottom that “by receiving this e-mail you are legally bound to keep it confidential and bla bla…” It’s bullshit in an e-mail, and it’s bullshit on a website. You don’t get to form a contract just because someone reads a sentence. The law doesn’t doesn’t work that way in any country I know of (well, maybe the US, but the US is weird.)

Even if reading a sentence would magically form a legally binding agreement, I’m not so sure it’s actually legal to form a contract that takes away people’s rights to free speech in most countries. I know that in Sweden, it’s actually impossible to sign away your rights, so in my country all of the legal bullshit on the olympic website is worth precisely dick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Exactly!

… how a presumably sane person would think…

Courts employ all kinds of weird reasoning.

Unreasonable and oppressive terms of service are not necessarily meant to be enforced: They are instead a special signal to the mob of rabble. The terms purport to prohibit the lower classes from criticizing their elite governors. The governors are not stupid. They recognize fighting words intended to inflame passions. They know they run the risk that the rabble will pelt them with eggs. Indeed, they delight in that risk: It is delicious sport when they grab a few of the bolder ruffians, and crack heads to show who’s really boss.

David Muir (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think leaving the question without the snarky addendum might have been more productive.

It is my understanding that a contract has to involve an exchange of value or be signed under seal. In the case of agreeing to terms of use, there has to be an active sign-up process; you’re not bound to the terms by merely “visiting” the site. So the semantics of “using” a site might be at issue here.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

bullshit. I am NOT manifesting consent to anything. I’m browsing a publicly accessible presence. If you think you have the right to make up bullshit asshat rules that you want me to consent to, put a wall up. Make me agree to the terms directly, obviously, and without any doubt that I agreed (even if I didn’t read the crap).

But there is no way you can claim that I’ve consented just by reading. That’s utter shiny-object nonsense. Grow up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nope. Passive agreement almost never works to manifest consent to an agreement unless it’s contingent on a precedent active manifestation (such as affirmatively agreeing to a Terms of Use that states later updates to said terms can be accepted by continued use of the service). You can’t just bury terms on a site, not present them to the user, and state that they are bound to those terms. The users must have a reasonable opportunity to know what they’re agreeing to. That’s why clickwrap agreements are so important on websites, and why “leaky” ones often fail to be enforceable in court.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m sorry, but can you explain how you can use a site without being bound by the terms of use of that site? Please explain, oh great understander of the law.

What’s the matter, Pirate Mike? Can’t defend yourself? I’ll add this to my incredibly long list of debates you ran away from. Why so scared, Mikey? If I’m so stupid, why won’t you EVER debate me about anything. For over two years now you’ve run from every single debate. To me, that only proves that you’re in bad faith. Kudos!

Direwolf says:

Re: Re: Re:

…You are trolling a site for over 2 years? And I thought I was pathetic.
You act like you are in the middle of a crowded room screaming into a megaphone how everyone but you is stupid, and when everyone else is ignoring you, you claim to have won imaginary “debates”. Sorry, this is not how debates work. You can’t just claim victory.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m sorry, but can you explain how you can use a site without being bound by the terms of use of that site? Please explain, oh great understander of the law.

Simple: the site allows you to use it without having ever seen or agreed to those terms – often without them having even been made prominent in any way. And, since the terms are hosted on the site itself, it’s impossible to even see them without first making use of the site. That’s not an enforceable agreement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Obviously you’ve never studied contract law, and you have no idea what you’re saying. The never seems to stop you from acting like you’re an expert, though. I’m happy to bust out the case law and prove you wrong, but what’s the point? You’ll run away just like Pirate Mike always does. Speaking of Pirate Mike, funny how he doesn’t have any time to defend his silly post.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So why haven’t you already, then, AC? Give us all the details, with links to non-entertainment industry sources which corroborate your interpretation of said law. And without a single insult or derogatory remark. If you cannot or will not, your statement is false and your argument invalid. Comply, or provide a complete retraction of everything you have ever said on this site. Now. Any other response, including imitating/parodying this one, will constitute such a retraction because it will show you are unable to provide the information requested.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

well you can’t use a site without being bound by its terms. And did you hear? The terms of this site now include a clause I added, in this comment. Whereby you have, retroactively, agreed to admit you don’t understand contract law at all. While most of us don’t fully understand it, and therefore, can, from time to time be incorrect, at least we get the core principles of OMGCrazy fake legal claims.

And since you are not among those of us who get that, you are now also hereby required, by virtue of this TOS addendum, to go to law school and only after graduating with at least a 3.95 grade point, will you be allowed to return here.

Yet even then you are no longer permitted, under the terms of this TOS, to ever insult, belittle or otherwise goad Mike the way you have in your comment heretofore responded to by this TOS addendum.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In English law there’s a case called Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking that sort of says you can’t impose contractual terms after you’ve entered into the contract; i.e. by using this site you agree to terms you can’t read until you use the site.

Secondly, the UK (via the EU) has all sorts of consumer-protection laws which, among other things, can negate unreasonable terms in contracts – particularly where the contract is one-sided.

Plus you have the broader issues of incorporation of the terms; if they’re buried away on some “terms” page, are they actually incorporated into the agreement?

So legally, under English law (where this site is based) there’s a good chance the term isn’t binding.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Light bulb!

Funny, I was honestly just mulling over creating such an association with rabbit flatulence when I stumbled upon your much more amusing rhetoric regarding dirty rotten rabbit raping rectal-rogues. I have to say, if the Olympics and the dirty rotten rabbit raping rectal-rogues work together, their powers combined would be great. Hell, many people are looking forward to the Olympics. I’m not sure I quite understand this as there will be so many dirty rotten rabbit raping rectal-rogues attending. Maybe if other pitch in, more awareness of the dirty rotten rabbit raping rectal-rogues at the Olympics, in London can spread in England.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Olympics are a waste of money and cause dangerous amounts of increased nationalism and hard feelings when the winners are announced.

And because I never clicked the link to the Olmypic site you can’t say I ever agreed to your stupid terms, nor can you say I posted the link to it since other people on this page have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree with you, the Olympics are a huge problem and stand completely against what they’re supposed to.

The Olympic games in Ancient Greece were supposed to be a period where everyone would put quarrels and rivalry aside and get along a little and compete in an honest and fair manner.
Wars were even supposed to be put on hold for the games!

But today, the olympic federation has turned it into making money. There’s little sportsmanship, like you say everyone just wants to win, whether they are athletes or spectators. You hardly hear people say “That country who beat us performed very well! They’re really good!”
It’s all about winning and making money.

And then of course, there’s the abuses of the olympic federation when it comes to enforcing their intellectual property. Shutting down old restaurants with the name “Olympic”, stifling free speech, forbidding people from posting pictures of the game online, encouraging governments to all kinds of excesses…

But in the end, the problem is not really with the olympic federation, it’s the people: people need to start taking responsibility and boycott the games. People shouldn’t watch the games, they should tell their government they don’t want their country to host the games, and athletes should refuse to go to the olympics.
It’s way too easy to criticize the olympic federation and then watch the games on TV anyway.

But we live in a world where people don’t care about anything that doesn’t concern them closely. Principles? Nobody has that anymore. So you guys enjoy your rights being violated, because frankly you deserve it.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This brings up another really important point. Everyone always cries “so what – show your support for the individual athletes…” blah blah blah…

Great. Love your athletes. Respect them. Treasure them. But people need to stop blinding themselves to the fact that corporations abuse that position way more than most probably realize.

Case in point – the whole U.S. uniforms made in China debacle that reared it’s not-surprising ugly head this week. The initial reaction from USOC staff was the complaints about a desire to help Americans gain employment in current economic conditions that resulted in complaints against the USOC and RL, were bullshit ranting.

Except the complaints and outcry grew too big too fast, and now the USOC and RL have had to back-track, apologize, and vow to change their ways.

They got scared. Well the USOC didn’t. RL did. Financially. And the USOC in turn had no choice but to agree that it was important to change their ways. Else other big name designers bail out on lending their name and crappy preppy designs to the USOC’s effort.

Corporate greed needs to be dealt with directly – where it matters. Economically. Big corporations like at the Olympics don’t want that – they think they can get away with murder because people will end up lowering their voices out of fear of offending the individual front-line troops.

Oh wow – look at that – same concept as war-mongering greedy corporate shill politicians depend on. Yes – that’s right – they’ll gladly send thousands of soldiers into harms way, with the real understanding that many will die, countless more will be wounded and scarred emotionally and psychologically for life.

And they count on citizens rolling over under the guise of patriotism. Because “if you’re not supporting your troops, you’re UnAmerican. Or UnBritish or UnCanadian. Or whatever nationality you are.

Well that’s all bullshit. Because it just resonates to the fact that we live in sheep-to-slaughter societies around the globe now.

And the only answer that will work to ever change that system, be it with the Olympics or national imperialism, is to take off the politically delicate sensitivity gloves and get real, raw and ridiculously loud about it.

Mike says:

First off, you can accept a contract by action. The exchange of a service, subject to a contract, and your use of a service can be assent to the terms. There’s nothing crazy about that.

A website is a service. The materials, features and functionality are not offered unrestricted. Indeed, even techdirt.com has a privacy policy that works as an agreement for use of some information as indicated there. (http://www.techdirt.com/privacy.php)

Is that not an agreement?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

The more pertinent question is rather: “Is that a legally binding agreement?”

And even if it was, what if someone sent you a tinyurl link and you didn’t know what was on the other side of the link? You can’t be bound by the terms of a website that you inadvertently visit or else you could be bound by the terms of websites that people embed into other websites without your actual knowledge or agreement.

Michael says:

Re: Re:

“First off, you can accept a contract by action. The exchange of a service, subject to a contract, and your use of a service can be assent to the terms. There’s nothing crazy about that.”

They can conjure up whatever TOS they want and nobody’s legally bound to them. You are not bound to a contractual agreement simply for visiting a website, just as you cannot be forced to purchase or lease a vehicle just for stopping by a car dealer. Visiting a website does not constitute ‘providing a service,’ sorry to burst your bubble.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Techdit/privacy is saying that when you post things on techdirt and visit it they can do X with the info you have just given them.

They are not restricting your actions or telling you how you can or can not behave.

If they added a clause at the end that said by using this site you are legally bound to give Mike Masnick your first born child to be sacrificed to the gods of piracy would you be looking for a person sized box?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The above “terms” are not legally binding as a contract in common law contract countries (or any other jurisdiction that I know of).

Without going into the legal elements of the intention to create legal relations (contract) believe it that there have been a huge history of hundreds of years specifically stating what is and what is not a contract

These so called unilateral stipulations and terms do not even an offer make.

Anonymous Coward says:

“By using Techdirt, you expressly consent to the information handling practices described in this notice. Your use of the Techdirt web site and any personal information you provide to Techdirt are subject at all times to this Privacy Notice.”

http://www.techdirt.com/privacy.php

Not too different than claim in the article: “There are other insane statements in the terms, including that you automatically agree to be “legally bound” by the terms simply by using the site. “

Now I agree it’s quite a stretch to say that linking to the site would cause someone to be bound by the terms, but “using the site” isn’t uncommon.

Kenneth Michaels (profile) says:

Re: using

The Techdirt policy is very different than the Olympic site agreement. The Techdirt policy basically says, if you use our website, and you give us information about yourself, then you agree that we can use that information as we outline below. In other words, Techdirt says if you don’t like what we are going to do with the information you give to us, then don’t give it to us (i.e., don’t use our site). In yet more words, the techdirt visitor agrees that *TECHDIRT* is allowed to do stuff. The visitor is not agreeing to what the *VISITOR* is allowed or not allowed to do.

The Olympic site, on the other hand, says that if you use our website, then the user agrees to do/not to do certain other things.

Different.

Kenneth Michaels (profile) says:

Re: Re: using

Although, action (e.g., use of a website) can certainly be considered acceptance of a contract. It depends on the circumstances.

In the case of the Olympics, I don’t think visiting the site would work as an acceptance of the contract. And, in the case of the Olympics, they NEED acceptance of the contract for them to limit the way you link.

In the case of Techdirt, Techdirt does not NEED acceptance (i.e., permission or a contract) in any event. There is more of an argument in Techdirt’s case that use of the website is an acceptance, basically because the user can’t stop Techdirt from using the information as outlined. And if use doesn’t amount to acceptance, then it at least provides notice to the user of what Techdirt will do with information it collects.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anonymous Coward

My “use” of the techdirt site did not occur when I clicked the url. My “use” occurred when I decided to respond to your post. Now, even though I’m another Anonymous Coward like yourself, I have agreed to to be bound by the terms. But not one moment before I hit this submit button.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

So this is a stupid asshat trend I have seen for years from corporations who think they own the interwebs because they have deep pockets to pay attorneys.

Typically it’s left at “you’re not allowed to link to us” without referring to make-believe legalese in a site’s TOS. It’s more often just an email saying – “Remove the link, we didn’t say you could do that.”

Heck, I got such an email a couple years back – from a company I’d done actual work for, and where I listed their site in my client portfolio. Ha! I laughed in that lawyer’s email face.

I don’t care what any site’s TOS says. If I want to link to their asshat commercially overzealous fascist enterprise’s web site, I will.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The “not allowed to link to us without permission” thing seems to be a deeply-embedded misunderstanding either by lawyers, or by the rest of the world, as to how the Internet works with the law.

I was recently skimming through a book on (English) IP law, and it was suggesting that linking to a site could count as an infringement of copyright (in the site) and that the only way a set of bookmarks would be legal is if you could fit them in the fair dealing for private study exception. And this is the 2010 edition (based on a really dodgy 90s case involving Scottish newspapers).

If that is what lawyers are being taught, it is no wonder they think they can impose conditions when they “license” out the right to link to their sites. Of course, everyone else thinks that linking is just linking; providing a sign-post sort of thing. Only one side can be right…

That One Guy (profile) says:

A good counter:

Would be for someone to use their ‘legal tactics’ against them.

Set up a site where they can go to complain and file to take down offending sites, and have at the bottom a disclaimer saying that visiting the site makes them legally bound to hand over all profits gained from the Olympics over to publicly chosen charities, while dressed in clown suits(stereotypical clown suits mind, not the one’s they’re already wearing).

hmm (profile) says:

well

I still don’t get why anyone is even bothered about the Olympics anymore.

They’ve already decided that Poland gets a few golds because they signed various trade agreements with the UK.

China paid ?5million to the IOC to win various martial arts sections…

Basically every medal is already decided ahead of time…like Eurovision where countries ignore the songs and just vote for the country they have trade agreements pending…

TDR says:

Re: well

…like Eurovision where countries ignore the songs and just vote for the country they have trade agreements pending…

Maybe we should make the insane goits who thought this up look like the Turkish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. As if they hadn’t made themselves enough of a laughingstock already. Rimmer could do a better job running the IOC than those addle-pated gits with less brains than a mollusk. They’re trumped up, farty little smegheads who, if their skin were any thinner, you could see right through it! A group of overzealous powermongers with a Napoleon complex.

Lurker Keith says:

Ken at Popehat has picked up on this

Ken at Popehat is back from Vacation, & after a post about his vacation, touched on this… Well, the McDonalds “Chips” thing, which appears to be getting rolled back, but then someone told him about the linking & this was added to the end of Popehat Sponsors Summer Bronze, Silver, and Gold In London. Want Chips With That?:

Edited to add:Thanks to Anthony, who told was (sic) I assumed was a joke, until I realized it was true: check out the Terms of Use of http://www.london2012.com:

5. Linking policy

a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.

Hey London2012: I intend this to portray you in a derogatory and objectionable manner.

Guess I should submit this due to the McDonalds Monopoly on “Chips” being backed down from…

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Ken at Popehat has picked up on this

Having actually read the Guardian article now, the Olympics are just backing down from the forcing the Caterors feeding Olympic employees to follow the “Chips” ban. Apparently, Olympic Employees got tired of McDonald’s fries to the point they started complaining to the Caterors.

You’d think if the empoyees are complaining, they’d make the connection that the masses won’t like it any better. Idiots.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...