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.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 6:28pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:12pm

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

      Civil just means that they conveniently don't need as much proof to harass you for money, should they decide to pursue.

      Penalties might not be all that different if the judge buys their arguments. See copyright law.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:24pm

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:32pm

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

        Well, physical facilities and infrastructure - even those meant to safeguard the lives of people participating in activities - are ephemeral and temporary.

        Intellectual property rights last forever.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      carl, 10 Feb 2018 @ 7:37am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re: Damn the Torpedoes (government)

        Nuance and sarcasm ... too difficult to understand so simply toss arms in the air, rant 'n rave.

        Rinse, repeat.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:00pm

    I'm past caring at this point.

    I gave up on the Olympics years ago because of this very nonsense. I don't know who is who, don't care, and most of all don't watch. The only exposure I have is on the evening news and articles such as Techdirt's.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 10 Feb 2018 @ 9:22am

      Re: I'm past caring at this point.

      Oh-limp-icks? I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with that term. Is that something new? I don't chase every passing fancy...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2018 @ 8:12am

        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...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:19pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Andy, 11 Feb 2018 @ 3:21am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Cowardly Lion, 12 Feb 2018 @ 9:51am

        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.

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

    • identicon
      Sigh, 12 Feb 2018 @ 5:30pm

      Re: Same old IOC

      Apparently it isn't absurd enough that this particular "sporting event" has been blatantly commercial since 776 BCE...

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

  • identicon
    Daydream, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:38pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:56pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:00pm

    Twitter: neo-nazi BANNED terrorists making actual death threats and offering money to murder journalists? Free speech, can't be banned.

    Posting images from a pre-scripted sport event where the winners are decided years in advance? Taken down without argument.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:22pm

    I hope that someone will put some videos into the public domain for anyone to substitute in these cases. With the message "Unable to display this video due to copyright fraud by the International Olympic Committee and moral cowardice by Twitter/Facebook."

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

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:27pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 4:19am

      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.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 10:07pm

    that seems like a lawsuit. for Twitter, Facebook, AND OC

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 1:32am

    Fallow the Olympics for a century or two

    fallow
    verb. to leave alone for a while, to disengage from

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 5:45am

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      Why would the Washington post, or one of its reporters assign copyright to the IOC?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 6:53am

      Re:

      Interesting question - what rights do you have in Korea?

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Feb 2018 @ 7:28am

      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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      So you're claiming that Washington Post reporter Ann Fifield is lying when she claims the video is her's? What do you base that on, other than trolling?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2018 @ 6:29am

    Are random peoples video from their cell phone also being blocked/taken down?

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

  • identicon
    David, 10 Feb 2018 @ 11:17am

    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?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous smart one, 11 Feb 2018 @ 1:00am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2018 @ 1:21am

    The two of them can collectively rot in hell.

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

  • icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 11 Feb 2018 @ 7:09am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 11 Feb 2018 @ 9:23pm

    It’s Not Just The Olympics ...

    ... seems many of the other major international sporting events are just as bad:

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

  • identicon
    Châu, 12 Feb 2018 @ 4:30am

    Public domain

    Sports not belong to IOC, they never invent them (IOC have no patents) and most sport too old for patent (20 years <). IOC not pay their performers, not like concert. Need human rights class action lawsuit against IOC.

    For now use "Titanic's sister" for Olympic.

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

  • identicon
    theBrandler, 12 Feb 2018 @ 5:55am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2018 @ 1:05pm

    Don't forget to boycott the Olympic Games.

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

  • identicon
    Lev ZAROKHOVICH, 13 Feb 2018 @ 12:48am

    IOV, Climax of Justive

    IOC, THE “CLIMAX OF JUSTICE?”

    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,
    Moscow

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


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