Hide Techdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Twitter & Facebook Want You To Follow The Olympics… But Only If The IOC Gives Its Stamp Of Approval

from the what-the-fuck-twitter? dept

It is something of an unfortunate Techdirt tradition that every time the Olympics rolls around, we are alerted to some more nonsense by the organizations that put on the event — mainly the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — going out of their way to be completely censorial in the most obnoxious ways possible. And, even worse, watching as various governments and organizations bend to the IOC’s will on no legal basis at all. In the past, this has included the IOC’s ridiculous insistence on extra trademark rights that are not based on any actual laws. But, in the age of social media it’s gotten even worse. The Olympics and Twitter have a very questionable relationship as the company Twitter has been all too willing to censor content on behalf of the Olympics, while the Olympic committees, such as the USOC, continue to believe merely mentioning the Olympics is magically trademark infringement.

So, it’s only fitting that my first alert to the news that the Olympics are happening again was hearing how Washington Post reporter Ann Fifield, who covers North Korea for the paper, had her video of the unified Korean team taken off Twitter based on a bogus complaint by the IOC:

And Twitter complied even though the takedown is clearly bogus. Notice Fifield says that it is her video? The IOC has no copyright claim at all in the video, yet they filed a DMCA takedown over it. The copyright is not the IOC’s and therefore the takedown is a form of copyfraud. Twitter should never have complied and shame on the company for doing so. Even more ridiculous: Twitter itself is running around telling people to “follow the Olympics on Twitter.” Well, you know, more people might do that if you weren’t taking down reporters’ coverage of those very same Olympics.

Oh, and it appears that Facebook is even worse. They’re pre-blocking the uploads of such videos:

This is fucked up and both the IOC and Facebook should be ashamed. The IOC can create rules for reporters and can expel them from the stadium if they break those rules, but there is simply no legal basis for them to demand such content be taken off social media, and Twitter and Facebook shouldn’t help the IOC censor reporters.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,
Companies: facebook, ioc, twitter

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 “Twitter & Facebook Want You To Follow The Olympics… But Only If The IOC Gives Its Stamp Of Approval”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The law, if it means anything, be damned

Who gives a flying fuck about the law when abusing the law gets you what you want? What do you mean this is civil rather than criminal? Does law see a difference, other than in penalties? If the IOC or the USOC, or any other olympic related committee wants to control access to what can be plainly seen (if one attends the games) then let them control that into a state of irrelevance that is just beginning to become a reality. One buys or is given tickets to the games, one takes pictures or videos, then one has to turn over those pictures or videos to the ‘committee’ so ‘they’ can monetized them? WTF?

As an aside, if this law is able to be ignored, then what other laws may we ignore? Or, is ignoring laws just a matter of the right influence? If that is the case, then all laws should be ignored and the assumption of the right influence assumed and denial of such be damned. And, BTW, if that is the case, then we should stop funding law enforcement (state, federal, and local), prosecutors offices, attorneys general, and courts. Judges go home (including the USSC), you are no longer relevant. Lawyers, McDonald’s might be hiring, but hurry, there are only so many openings, and don’t expect to be up front at the cash register, argument is not encouraged there.

In the end, Twitter and Facebook are just looking to avoid the expensive fight that would ensue should they not bow to some ‘powerful’ organization. Which brings up the question of what ‘power’ does the IOC or USOC actually have, other than a large pocketbook to initiate expensive (certainly to the accused) litigation? The power to grant rights for certain countries or cities to spend enormous amounts to build infrastructure that will be completely, or significantly, useless after the games for the very short term economic boon from the tourism that the games attract? A proven negative economic model.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The law, if it means anything, be damned

Rest assured, the infrastructure for the games you just mentioned will be falling apart before the year is out. It’s happened so many times before — Rio, Athens, Sochi, Sarajevo, et cetera. Many former Olympic sites look like something straight out of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

carl says:

Re: Damn the Torpedoes (government)

[[ “…is ignoring laws just a matter of the right influence? If that is the case, then all laws should be ignored and the assumption of the right influence assumed and denial of such be damned. And, BTW, if that is the case, then we should stop funding law enforcement (state, federal, and local), prosecutors offices, attorneys general, and courts. Judges go home (including the USSC), you are no longer relevant. ” ]]

Hmm, a budding anarcho-libertarian with severe distrust of government and its massive, arbitrary “law”.

Masnick is instantly dismissive of such ideological viewpoints as being the ravings of an unhinged fringe. You see — government people and their whimsical law apparatus are really wonderfully efficient & beneficent to us all — if only we could just get the “properly enlightened” persons consistently installed in powerful government positions. It is all so simple — we just need “our guys” running things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm past caring at this point.

After I stopped getting .99 big mac’s at McDonald’s when we won a gold medal, I stopped caring (think this was around 1998 or so).

now I’ve care nothing for the olympic’s themselves, and just wait for the antics of the IOC and related committees every year. It’s much more entertaining, but not as filling as .99 Big Mac’s…

Anonymous Coward says:

Same old IOC

I knew it was only a matter of time until we would hear about more of the International Olympic Committee’s shenanigans. Regular as clockwork.

I honestly can’t think of any organization that is even remotely close to being a more draconian intellectual property maximalist than the IOC. They make Jack Valenti look as if he was some Creative Commons copyleft reformist by comparison. Even the NFL doesn’t go this overboard with the Super Bowl.

Andy says:

Re: Same old IOC

I was just reading a report the other day about how the Olympics has some serious problems finding countries that want to host it,so much so that they are looking at having the Olympics in one country every 4 years and not sending it around the world.

I am one of the millions that have just given up on the Olympics, i cannot be bothered trying every 4 years to get to watch my favourite sports and eventually after finding them not being able to follow my country or finding it almost impossible with all of the roadblocks.

When the rights are removed from the IOC and given to a better organisation who is not just in it for the money then maybe i will spend my time looking to watch sports i enjoy, but until then like millions of others i have just given up and refuse to waste my time with the Olympics.

Cowardly Lion says:

Re: Re: The good news is the 4th Circle of Hell has some vacancies...

Hear, hear.

It used to be about the sport. Then it was about the money.

I gave up watching the Olympics in 2012 (London) when the IOC scumbags were putting masking tape over the tiny manufacturers logo on the gents urinals at the stadium toilets. That, and blasting around the UK confiscating children’s home made cakes from charity fetes, because they had the audacity to bear the 5-rings of the Olympic symbol.

Not sure if they’re more scummy than performing rights collection agencies though… but it’s close.

Daydream says:

Main reason to watch the Olympics:
To show support for North & South Korea’s combined team in the Olympics, in the hope that their collaborating on this might help lead to peaceful resolution of their differences and the whole nuclear situation.

Main reason to boycott the Olympics:
To denounce the gross misconduct and abuse of trademarks/copyright being committed by the IOC.

Anonymous Coward says:

What is the point of the Olympics? waste of billions on infrastructure that will be left to rot.

AND the winners are decided in advance, based on international trade agreements. Give us gold and you get X Y or Z reduced tariffs.

Doesn’t help that Qatar bribed it’s way to host the soccer world cup in 2022 and plans to arrest/torture and rob anyone they consider “looks gay”. Also women tourists won’t be allowed except in special separate areas wearing full-on head coverings or they’re subject to arrest and beatings.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

waste of billions on infrastructure that will be left to rot.

While that’s brutally true of several previous Olympics, it’s an unfair claim in this case.

The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium won’t be left to rot. It was built specifically for the 2018 Olympics and will be torn down immediately after. The same goes from several other venues.

Don’t you feel better now?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“What is the point of the Olympics?”

Clearly, the point of the Olympics is the creation of excuses to raid the taxpayer coffers at will. Several people make bank on the endeavor while everyone else suffers as a result.

There are many rather humorous rationalizations, for example they claim the creation of many jobs … too bad most of them are minimum wage and limited duration. There is no boost to the economy, more like a bust.

But someone is making out … just don’t tell them it is socialism that gave them that money.

Arioch (profile) says:

Re: Pointless Olympics

I couldn’t agree with you more.
Complete waste of time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

And should it be that the money monkeys feel that there could be larger profits available in the “middle east” then they are on a serious loser. By all means play your little boy games of football/soccer. Most of the world is not actually interested in your less than amusing pastime.

Go on .. I dare you.. Stage the Olympic games in somewhere like Qatar, with all the female athletes and girls like these

Should make for a very interesting venue

Cowardly Lion says:

Re: Re:

I hear your comments about Qatar, which has the added controversy over it’s suitability to host sports such as football due to it’s extreme heat.

I was going to counter your comments about wasted infrastructure, with details on how London has re-purposed it’s 2012 Olympic facilities, but then I found this:




Rapnel (profile) says:

Protocols not platforms people, please.

As for the ‘lympics? Yeah, OK, that sure is something special you got there. Yet more 20th century garbage shaped and channeled through gatekeepers and assholes with mind-numbingly shitty everything.

It’ll be neat when all these IP whores become adults. Too bad we’ll all be dead. Actually, it’ll be neat when we’re all dead.

Event list and a camera selection. Pony meet automobile, automobile pony. Hi. Hi.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Protocols not platforms people, please.

Those work the the few who are prepared to do some work to build and maintain their social networks, news feeds etc. That is the same sort of people who partook in bulletin boards/Fidonet and the underground magazines/music etc. For the majority of people the network effects of centralized platforms with all the network effects that go along with them is that makes the Internet useful.

That has little to do with laziness or convenience, but rather the lack of skills and/or the confidence to do their own curating. Also, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. give them a place to start looking, where with highly distributed systems, the first task is finding where to start looking.

Also, podcasts and videos, if they gain popularity, need more bandwidth up than is typically available through a domestic ISP,making use of server hosts/virtual servers along with a content delivery network, which is complication most people are not prepared to deal with. So platforms are often enable people to publish, by dealing with all the associated distribution and bandwidth problems for them.

That reporter could have posted their video via a torrent sites, but then 99% of the target audience would not be able to find it, as most people do not have a clue about how to find torrents.

Anonymous Coward says:

What does the author of this article rely upon for his legal conclusion that the “rights” he is speaking about are not owned or controlled by the IOC? Remember, copyrights can be transferred quite easily by an organization with the negotiating power of the IOC. This is not to say that being anal retentive about such rights and how they are exploited is a good thing, but only to note that IOC ownership is not necessarily missing here.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think there is some likelihood that there is some fine print on the back of the ticket one uses to gain entrance to the game that takes those rights away. I am not so sure that that creates a binding contract, just like some EULA’s and the NFL’s whining about any use of ‘their’ property’ don’t have any legal foundation.

More importantly, any prohibition on a ticket probably wouldn’t have impact on anything more than local law, and certainly not international law. If that fine print exists, it nourishes the IOC’s perspective that the own pictures I might take, in violation of my rights (at least in the US). I take a picture in Korea, upload it via a VPN to some platform in the US and the IOC only comes after it only if ads are served on that platform (or the platform is large enough to gain their notice) seems pretty fishy.

Just because the IOC says they own my pictures or videos doesn’t mean they do.

David says:

This is the spirit of the Olympics

North and South Korea send a common team to the Olympic games. Reporting about it is banned by the IOC.

Well, the reason the Olympic games were revived was that they were a Panhellenic event in disregard of ongoing armed conflicts inside of Greek. People found that impressive enough to revive the idea.

It’s sort of sobering when the International Olympic Committee nowadays has a worse grasp of the Olympic spirit than the North Korean military dictatorship.

I mean, what else but boycott them can a potential spectator conscientiously do these days?

Anonymous smart one says:

Los Angeles Olympics 1932, 1984

For the LA Olympics in 1932, Helms Bakery, a local bakery, got involved, and became the Official Olympic baker. The used the Olympic Seal on the top of their building and bread packages until they closed in 1969. But the sign stayed atop the building.
Guess what the Olympic Committee demanded happen to the sign in 1984?
In this instance, the Committee backed down. The sign is still there.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

A possible rationale

I think the reasoning here might be something like:

  • The Olympics are a live performance, much like a concert or a sports game.
  • The rights to that performance belong to the IOC.
  • Therefore, any video recording of that performance which is not authorized by the IOC is a violation of the IOC’s intellectual-property rights.

If you start out with the assumption that the performance itself is what is copyrighted (or similar – I’m not entirely up on the terminology surrounding the are of intellectual-property law dealing with live performances), then the fact that the video belongs to the reporter becomes irrelevant, because it’s what the video depicts that belongs to the IOC.

I don’t think that’s a particularly good avenue to have exist, but I suspect that under current law it in fact does.

If anyone can think of a counterexample – by which I mean, a case where having this type of restriction available would be a good thing – I’d be interested to hear of it.

theBrandler says:

Another reason to not bother with the Olympics

What I find most jading about the Olympics now is that it’s dominated by the country’s who either have the richest state sponsored teams, or the largest collection of rich kids.

There are a few tiny tiny exceptions on some of the more obscure sports. But mostly it’s a battle of rich kids vs rich states. Who really cares at that point?

On top of this, it’s an incredibly weird collection of sports that make no sense. Who the hell actually does bobsledding in the off season? Ever gone pole vaulting on holiday? How about Ski Jumping? Gymnastics? Didn’t think so.

And then there’s curling and Foosball – which both have me asking, why the hell isn’t billiards and poker included?

Running, jumping, Skiing, Snowboarding, skating, weight lifting etc, these are sports people can relate to – all around the world – as they are either activities we’ve all done as kids, or things we enjoy as personal hobbies, or in the case of weight lifting, is just universally impressive, so these type of sports give everyone the world over a real appreciation for extreme talent.

But why the hell do I care about a bunch of rich kids in a giant toboggan flying down an ice track? And why the hell are horses allowed? Has anyone even thrown a javelin for it’s intended purpose in the last 1000 years? And why are we throwing cannon balls? That’s never been useful, we made cannons to do that for us! And while we are guns, who gives a flip how accurate you are with your dinky air rifle while your wrapped in a stiff suit? – Being an American, I find that one the most laughable, real accuracy, by those who actually use guns for sport, defense, and hunting, is done with high powered rifles, or normal revolvers and pistols, and the best in the world don’t need a stiff suit to stuff all the bullets in the same hole.

The Olympics, really, has turned into a rich kids talent show instead of a true coming-together of the world to show the best talent their common youth has to offer in sports the world over can relate too. And THAT I think is most tragic.


IOV, Climax of Justive


Who ever and whatever says or likes, this IOC in its present form must somehow be dealt with, resolutely and rigidly. Questions and problems follow the organization for quite sometime from at least early sixties of the century past. Ol Games’ exorbitant program, discrimination on political grounds in downright violation of the Olympic Charter, setting up all sorts of strange sub-organizations like WADA and CAS with as strange authority, vague wordings and concepts like manipulation of competition, numerous standing and ad hoc committees, commissions, boards and panels, multiple bans and “rules”, controversy with the International Summer and Winter Sports Federations (IFs), continental National Olympic Committees associations, etc. The Games have long turned to a set of World Championships in different sports while composition of the IOC per se is the Areopagus of ultra conservative “members” who had devalued and corrupted the whole of the Olympic movement and the Games proper.
Let alone the Games being a site of different political stand-offs, etc., to name a few of its faults.
All this has been made possible due to an unrestrained commercialization of the games and, consequently, the so-called Olympic movement. The financial well being of the IOC and the Games is based, as is well known, on the US aggressive government structures’ financial infusion, along with U.S. television companies and advertisers, as aggressive.
It is understood, reform of the IOC and its creations like WADA and CAS, long overdue, and would call for a serious, large-scale effort, revision of the whole philosophy and concept of the anti-doping controls. The notorious WADA/IOC list of forbidden substances has been growing, new methods of camouflaging those substances contained in the athlete’s body being developed exponentially. Casting a retrospect look, one should also keep in mind that the start to this phenomenon had been laid out by the East German (GDR) chemists and a specific personage (name secret), a Nazi scientist held in GDR who paid for his safety (and life) by developing methods and drugs of hiding doping never sharing those with their Soviet masters. Former head of the USSR Sports Committee International Directorate Dmitri Prokhorov (†) told the story speaking to the Moscow Research Institute of Sports staff way back in 1974. Reunification of Germany ostensibly put an end to that dirt but they would not be Germans had they curbed that effectively and for goods.
In no way such effort, that of exposing the IOC and its presidency’s vicious practices should be stopped.
In no way should its conduct toward Russian athletes be left without proper consequences.

Lev Zarokhovich,

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...