Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter

from the and-the-gold-medal-in-promotional-idiocracy-goes-to... dept

And we've got yet another example of insane attempts by the Olympics to extend copyright and trademark law well beyond its stated intentions (which, tragically, some governments have been known to accept in order to get the Olympics on their home turf). This time, it involves the International Olympic Committee sending a cease-and-desist to a guy who posted the photos he took at the Beijing Olympics on Flickr. Seriously.

It's hard to understand what they're complaining about specifically. They mention that he violated the "terms and conditions" on the back of the ticket (which are often not enforceable, anyway) in "licensing pictures." Inquistr suggests the problem is that the guy, Richard Giles, put his own photos (on which he owns the copyright) on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. It's difficult to see what sort of leg the IOC has to stand on here (though, it may involve jurisdiction in a few different countries). The guy took photos himself -- so it's his copyright. Putting them under a CC license is then his decision. The trademark claims are laughable. At best, the IOC might be able to claim breach of contract in violating the "back of the ticket" agreement -- but even that seems like a stretch, and it's difficult to see what sort of "harm" the IOC could suggest these photos caused.

It's difficult to understand what the IOC thinks its accomplishing here. This was someone spreading the word (and view) of his Olympic attendance to his friends and many others online. You would think that would be seen as good and free advertising rather than as something for which the legal dogs should be unleashed. What sort of organization lets loose its lawyers on a fan posting photos showing off his cool experience attending an event? Honestly, I can't fathom what anyone at the IOC could possibly be thinking here.
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Filed Under: olympics, photos, trademark


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  1. identicon
    Di, 13 Feb 2010 @ 2:06pm

    "So what about the pictures of celebrities snorting coke in crappy newspapers? What gives a papp the legal right to take pictures of whatever he wants and have them publicly displayed?"

    In the US, if it is public view, then it's fair game. Inside a vehicle is considered "public," which I don't agree with (actually, this could be a state thing - you can't have tinted windows in the front in my state for this reason), but if a celeb is involved with hanky panky or coke snorting in his or vehicle, it's fair game.

    Not all tabloid photos are legally acquired, but the only people who can fight this are those in the photos/slandered. Then it's a question of whether or not it's worth wasting money on lawsuits when the photos are already out there in thousands/millions of magazines and on websites.

    "US whines if it can't have its own way"

    Wow, so you think the US shouldn't band together with other countries to hold the IOC and its judges accountable? Figure skating is an excellent example of how the athletes get screwed by money and power in the Olympics (judges were paid off to give higher marks to certain figure skaters, just in case you didn't know about that).

    ***

    Well, I used the word "Olympic" several times in my blog, today. If the IOC has a problem with it, they can kiss my ass. I am an American whose website is hosted on an American web server and my writings and photography are protected under the First Amendment.

    I will watch the Olympics because I like and participate in winter sports. The athletes are great motivators for me. In addition, no one is making money off of me because I'm not one for following the direction of commercials. :-D

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