by Mike Masnick

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Mousky, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 4:45am


    Blame it on the Los Angeles Olympics. They were privately financed and made a supposed "profit" of over $200 million US. Ever since then, the Olympics have become a commercial juggernaut. The fact that the atheletes could not write about their experience through a blog reflects the commercial nature of the Olympics. It's all about the money not the glory.

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

  2. identicon
    David Mackintosh, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 7:06am

    Patent Nonsense

    Your conclusion about the games becoming much less interesting is obviously true, as clearly the local pub's chalkboard advertising their Gold-Medal Greasburger and Olympic-sized beer servings embody everything that is good and noble about the games.

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

  3. identicon
    Brad, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 7:14am

    0Iymp1c Hopefuls?

    A local Minneapolis band, The Olympic Hopefuls, was forced to drop the first half of their name. Apparently the USOC has some semblence of a sense of humor: "One representative reportedly pointed out that the Hopefuls' colorful stage outfits are Puma tracksuits and not Adidas, the official supplier for U.S. Olympic athletes." Full article here.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 11:26am

    Re: 0Iymp1c Hopefuls?

    They just forced the Ferret Olympics to drop the term olympic from their title. I can see why as they're easily confused- ferrets and weasels. Will Olympic Pizza be next? The olympic games are so far removed from their roots that I have no interest in them or their sponsors. A pox on them all.

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

  5. identicon
    Mast Maker, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 1:54pm

    No Subject Given

    What a come down from the Pierre's ideals. Did it take only 109 years (more like 80+ years since it started in 70s) for it to rot this bad?

    What next? A multi-billion dollar Boy Scouts Corporation? How about a for-profit(-ONLY!) United Nation Inc and its wholly owned subsidiary UNESCO Ltd?

    May be a Religion Inc which buys out Catholicism,Islam,Hinduism and Buddhism is not a bad idea.

    I am also for a Global Government Inc. headed by Dubya which will go on a buying spree, buying up all other governments. May work out to be cheaper than waging wars.

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

  6. identicon
    Mousky, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 6:17pm

    Re: 0Iymp1c Hopefuls?

    I'm waiting for my cease and desist letter for using the word Olympics in my post. I'm sure some official media sponsor will insist that the Olympic Committee of my country send the letter as quickly as possible.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2005 @ 10:35pm

    “Boycott” “riot” and “protest”

    It is funny that they didn’t also try to ban the use of some other words - “Boycott” “riot” and “protest” all come to mind as relevant and likely consequences.

    Bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve.

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

  8. identicon
    BTR1701, Feb 9th, 2007 @ 5:15am


    Ad agencies in the UK can't even use the words "summer" or "2012" now without violating trademark? They actually granted the Olympic Committee a de facto trademark on all uses of the word "summer"?

    This world is starting to resemble a Douglas Adams novel more and more every day. Where's my towel?

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

  9. identicon
    The Dude, Feb 12th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    You Better know where you towel is.

    Well what do you expect! England is the land where if you get an idea you get hit in the head with a shovel. (Note: this is a joke in regards to Douglas Adams novel. I am not really itending this to be serious.)

    Or at least in the judicial since. These are the same guys who say if you want your CD in a MP3 format you have to buy both formats don't use your computer to rip the CD into a MP3.

    Whats next? Animals sueing people??????

    You hit a Cat with your car and next thing you know you are having to pay some society of cats money because of wrongfulld death???

    Where is my electronic thumb, it's time to get off this rock.

    Again: Brithish people = Great, Judicial systems of the world = brain dead zombies who haven't changed mentally since grade school.

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

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