by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, music, olympics, vancouver

Vancouver Olympics Demands All Copyrights And Royalties From Musician Just To Hear Her Song

from the nice-one dept

Ah, the Vancouver Olympics. The example of intellectual property entitlement insanity that just keeps on giving and giving and giving. It's no secret that the Vancouver Olympics has convinced the Canadian government to grant it extra special intellectual property rights that go way beyond what would be allowed for any normal business. This includes getting special control over words like "2010," and "Vancouver" if you use them in any way associated with the sporting event known as the Olympics (also protected). It's using these extra rights to stop ticket reselling and to take down signs they don't like (even on private property).

And, of course, acting in a maximalist manner also means little respect for anyone else's intellectual property or free speech rights. We've already noted that some musicians have complained about a contractual gag order, that forbids any musician performing at any Olympics event to speak ill of the Olympics ever. However, it appears that the Vancouver Olympics folks are taking the maximalism even further. Michael Scott points us to a complaint from a musician who wrote a song which she thought the Olympic committee might like. She sent it to them, and was surprised to get back a contract demanding she sign over all ownership and royalties associated with the song before they would even listen to it. And, of course, it would also grant them the ability to do whatever they wanted with the song.

Now, I recognize that many folks in these sorts of business will not listen to/view/read/etc. any sort of "unsolicited" material for fear of later running into a legal fight if something they do is similar. But, as such you just make it clear that you refuse to pay attention to any unsolicited material sent in. You don't send a contract that would require the creator to hand over all copyrights and royalties in a work. I guess, if you're the Olympics, however, you do exactly that.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    iNtrigued (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 8:37am

    2010 Olympics Sucks!

    I wonder if they can sue me now? And does anyone even watch the Olympics anymore? I didn't even think anyone cared about the winter Olympics anyways.

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

  2. icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Re: 2010 Olympics Sucks!

    I'm writing a song about how any games that occur in southwestern Canada between 2009 and 2011 suck.

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

  3. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:11am

    "before they would even listen to it..."

    It sort of makes sense in a twisted and overly legalistic sort of way. Right now they have a paper trail showing that they never listened to the song. So if they ever use a similar song, it would be harder for the musician to sue them for copyright infringement.

    Still, they're absolute pricks and it bothers me that nearly all governments, not just the Canadian government, gives in to their utter totalitarian BS.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Okay, she thought they might like it... I guess they liked it a bit more than anticipated. The claim they aren't going to listen to it until she signs over all rights sounds highly suspicious, and looks to me like they are trying to downplay their actual interest.

    The reason I believe they already heard the song is because, evidently, she *SENT* them a copy already... a copy it would have cost them absolutely nothing to hear, and no obligation to her whatsoever... heck, they didn't even have to respond to her at all. Also, if they hadn't listened to it, they would have no way to even know whether or not this work was something that could have remotely represented their interests in the first place. It seems strange that they would be asking for the rights to something that they really don't have any clue what it really contains... it's like accepting a completely unlabelled soup-like can from a complete stranger when you have nothing but their say-so that it contains chicken-noodle soup, for example.

    The thing for her to do, I think, is to simply walk away from this table, and let it go. I'm sure that she can write other songs that somebody else will like.

    Meanwhile, if VANOC is interested enough, they'll come back, eventually, with more reasonable terms. If they don't, well hey... who needs 'em?

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

  5. icon
    Jimr (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Sea to Skyway

    Just submitting material to Vancouver Olympics organizing committee, known as VANOC, means you give up all your rights. You don't get a chance to discuss how it's going to be used or how it licensed. VANOC would 'own it' and you would get absolutely nothing for your work just by showing it to them. A little extreme to say the least. So instead of handing over all her rights to the VANOC Scoffield decided to post her song online instead!

    BTW: The lyrics to the chorus of "Sea to Skyway" are:

    I can see some good times on the road up ahead
    Moment by moment without regret
    The world together in the spirit of peace
    Drinking hot chocolate under a maple leaf
    Upon the sea to skyway…
    Going higher and higher and higher and higher.

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

  6. identicon
    Godric, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Musician's rights

    I certainly hope she shredded the packet, and shipped it back to them with a giant GO EFF YOURSELF on a special cover sheet with a middle finger water mark.

    I would also include a C&D requiring them to return the original and any copies made of her media.

    While at the same time retaining an attorney to start monitoring for illegal usage of her song.

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

  7. identicon
    Matt, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:22am


    They probably only had their legal team listen to it to make sure they couldn't already sue her in case it already contains words like "Vancouver" or "2010"

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

  8. identicon
    The Anti-Mike, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Artists always have a choice

    Presented with this type of agreement, the writer has two choices: Sign and send it in, or shred it and forget it.

    I am surprised you haven't figured out the "FREE!" value on this one, you know: Your song becomes the official olympic song, it's heard by billions worldwide, and you become an international star as a result. Is it any different in the end than putting your music in a sort of CC agreement that forgoing all royalities? At least this way, there is a chance people hear your music.

    Mike, you are trying so hard to slam the Olympic people that you even forgot your own mantras. Damn, that's blind rage at it's best!

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

  9. identicon
    spaceman spiff, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Just say NO!

    Well, my buddy (alter-ego) Calvin, his pet tiger Hobbes, and myself are going to boycott the Olympics in perpetuity, or the IOC gets its head out of its nether-regions, which ever comes first. What maroons!

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

  10. icon
    John Duncan Yoyo (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 10:23am

    Lets all submit a song to the Vancouver Olympic committee. Several hundred songs should do it.

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

  11. icon
    WammerJammer (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 10:34am


    Looks like the Olympics has decided to become an enemy of the people and the enemy of people rights just like the other big boys. What's worse? Going through this hoop and signing away all your rights? OR Just let them play it anyway if they like it, just like the Republic Party does in the US. They don't need permission.
    If you have enough money to get a lawyer then you can sue them. IF!!!!

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

  12. icon
    Pjerky (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Just boycott the idiots!

    Ok, I think this Olympics BS has gone on long enough. How about we just boycott the entire thing.

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

  13. icon
    JustMe (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Anti-Mike

    I beg to differ. Mike doesn't advocate 'free above everything else' as you seem to think. He wants fair (small 'f') use, where there is the possibility of a return on investment for the content creator.

    Certainly there is some value to the performer IF the song is selected. However, what if they don't select the song? It sounds to me like she wouldn't even be able to sing it in a coffee shop because she wouldn't own the rights. And that's just wrong.

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

  14. icon
    Matt (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:39am


    From their perspective:

    Say it makes fun of the games... then they own the rights and can refuse to let anyone hear it. Win.

    Say it rocks... then they own the rights and can use it widely to promote the games, sell CDs, or whatever. They can give it to Apolo Ono to sing while wearing glitter and fangs, and earn back the interest of tweenage girls everywhere. Epic win.

    Say it is of limited interest, and neither sucks nor rocks... then they own the rights and can play it or not as fits their marketing plan. Win.

    In other words, they don't care if its chicken-noodle soup in the can. They don't even need to test whether it is chicken noodle soup until after they get the rights.

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

  15. identicon
    NullOp, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:58am


    Never let it be said someone, somewhere can't take something as wonderful as the Olympics and f*ck them up in the name of profit! Boycott the Olympics? I think so...

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

  16. icon
    Grae (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Re: Artists always have a choice

    You're breaking my heart, fail-troll.

    Your attempt to fabricate hypocrisy strawmen is "blind rage at it's best!" Shall we count the ways?

    For reference, the agreement the VANOC sent in response to receiving the song:

    1. "Your song becomes the official olympic song, it's heard by billions worldwide, ..."

    Section 2 of the VANOC's UPA frees them of any obligation to actually use the work. Saying it the way you do is naive or intentionally misleading. She would be giving up all rights to the work for the chance for a committee to decide if they want to use the song at all. If they don't use it, she won't get the rights back. If they did use it, there's no guarantee they would use it in a way that would receive a lot publicity.

    2. "... and you become an international star as a result."

    Section 7 of the UPA requires her to give up the rights to even claim anything to do with the Olympics whatsoever. She'd be betting on the kind hearts of the corporate machine to credit her and promote her as the artist of the song they might choose to use as some part of the Olympics. Which she still would lose all the rights to.

    3. "Is it any different ... than putting your music in a sort of CC agreement ..."

    If you can't see the difference you're probably so entrenched in your position that you can't even fathom another way to look at it. I'll point it out, just in case you're not that far gone: with a CC license you keep the rights to your work. With the VANOC's UPA you lose all rights.

    4. "At least this way, there is a chance people hear your music."

    I suppose this is technically correct. However, by releasing it herself the chances are somewhere around 99.999..% that _someone_ will eventually listen to it. With the VANOC, if they turn it down, those chances drop to zero. Forever.

    Trusting the VANOC and the IOC to be her big ticket to stardom is about as realistic as trusting that next lottery ticket to be the one that brings in the hundred million jackpot. In the end, artists who dream big and try to get fame by submitting to draconian agreements because it looks like less work will be overtaken by the artists who keep their rights, put in hard work and dedication to reach their goals.

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

  17. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 12:36pm


    "Right now they have a paper trail showing that they never listened to the song."

    No they don't. Right now, they have written down their own assertion that they've never listened to the song. That is certainly not anything like proof that they haven't listened to it. One still has to take them at their word.

    (Yes, I know you can't prove a negative -- but so many times the Little Guy is expected to do exactly that, and it's only fair that it would apply to big monopolistic pricks like the Olympics Committee as well.)

    The 2010 Vancouver Olympics suck! Supporting them is supporting some of the worst excesses of modern corporatism.

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

  18. identicon
    Joe, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 1:23pm


    They did the same logic for their logo. There was a contest, artists send in their work but all submissions became property of the olympics. Not just the winner, all of them. The winner got a fixed amount (25k I believe). Vanoc gets the rest.

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

  19. icon
    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Dec 21st, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Olympic committee...

    It's news like this, and many others, that prevents me from even wanting to watch the Olympics. I have boycotted the Olympics for ten now. and I've never looked back. What the Olympic committees are doing is insulting to the participants, and the fans. It's supposed to be a world effort. Not by some fascist litigatous dictatorship. Screw'em!! They're killing the Olympic ideology.
    For now.. stop sharing anything related to the olympics, ban the viewing of the olympics from homes, bars, clubs, and other public or private venues. Don't watch the Vancouver Olympics. Don't buy tickets to go to the olympics.
    Ignore the Olympics, and hopefully, it will finally die.

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

  20. identicon
    The Baker, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Boycott the olympics?

    OK .... there are about twelve people who will boycott the 2010 Vancouver Olympics here on techdirt, there may be a couple of orders of magnitude more out there in the real world. Will you hear about this on ANY major news outlet .... nope ... because they are either legally gagged by the IOC or are afraid that they will loose out in the future. Patriotism and national pride will drive leagues of fans to Vancouver and many many more to their boob flat screens who don't care one iota that it is their rights being chipped away at.
    Boycotting will only make those who boycott feel better. Unless we can find a way to get the masses interested, we will eventually loose all of our rights.

    Any Ideas??

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 5:05pm

    Fuck the Olympics

    This just pisses me off.

    The Olympics raped and murdered countless young boys and girls since being hosted by Adolf Hitler in 1936, while he was raping and murdering jews

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

  22. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: 2010 Olympics Sucks!

    Southwestern Canada? WTF? I didn't know the 2010 Olympics were in Ontario?

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

  23. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 7:55pm

    If the Olympics were truly valuable, then VANOC (or any Olympic organization) wouldn't need draconian copyright and trademark provisions. But when your business model is based on a ponzi scheme, you need all the protection you can get.

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

  24. icon
    Kaden (profile), Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: 2010 Olympics Sucks!

    Vancouver is located in the south corner of the west coast of Canada. That would be southwestern Canada. You're thing of 'southwestern Ontario', which gets said a lot because that's where Toronto is.

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

  25. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re:

    And the Olympics Commitee was the first against the wall when the revolution began .....

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

  26. identicon
    drummindog, Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Does anyone care?

    Does anyone really care about the Olympics anymore? I quit caring years ago, because they are meaningless.

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

  27. identicon
    Nanaimo Hotels, Dec 30th, 2009 @ 2:03pm

    LuLu Lemon and Olympics

    Interesting post. Found it amusing when LuLu Lemon came out with their try to get around the Olympics naming thing with their clothing launch. VANOC said it was not in the spirit of the Olympics. I thought it was a great marketing idea.

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

  28. identicon
    Andre, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    funny =p

    alright, i am a vancouverite... so maybe im biased, but the way i see this i will have to pay for these olympics for the next 30 years of my life. So shut up and deal with it before you make it 40 years... you can complain after, but im enjoying this and i dont see why i shouldnt. The olympics have already been protested here, and they are still happening, i dont even see how this is blocking free speech lol. you are here posting this now so has anything been blocked? its like getting getting kicked out of school for telling other students that they suck. Sure, you're an *** for doing it in the first place, but you can still go home and tell 50,000 more people online.

    to deal with this artist part, coudn't they just decline? if you dont want your song on the olympic venue... dont play it? and if you dont want to hand over the copy rights, but its required... dont play it? you lose nothing.

    finally, 90% of all olympic propaganda runs is negative, i search 2010 olympics suck and i get thousnads of results that actually have that topic, i search 2010 olympics are awsome, i get a couple hundred. lol, you try

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

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