International Olympics Committee Only Wants You to Share Content It Approves

(Picture by Lars Baron/Getty Photos)

Every two yrs, the world turns its focus to the Olympics, a sporting event with large draw supplied the definitely worldwide aspect and breadth of sporting activities included. And, in today’s world of social media, it appears to be like the Olympics also make headlines in the IP world. So, while this is not an fully new tale, we may possibly as well go over it when again — and continue on to do so until eventually the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) arrives to its senses.

IOC is notoriously aggressive when it arrives to implementing its intellectual assets legal rights. Substantially of it has to do with preserving its name as well as its trademarked image of the five interlocking rings of blue, yellow, black, eco-friendly, and purple. IOC has brought suit from numerous companies that have tried out to use the name “Olympic” or the interlocking rings image. There’s even an worldwide treaty, the Nairobi Treaty, obliging governments to guard the image.

Through the previous Olympics — summer season of 2016 — IOC made headlines when it banned GIFs: “…the use of Olympic Product reworked into graphic animated formats this kind of as animated GIFs (i.e., GIFV), GFY, WebM, or small video formats this kind of as Vines and some others, is expressly prohibited” in an endeavor to restrict and control the Olympic content that may possibly be shared. Let’s be quite very clear, this is the IOC trying to censor speech and guarantee that whatever videos are shared, they’re minimal to whatever they approve.

Right now, news, which include sporting activities highlights, is routinely shared on social media. GIFs are great for sporting activities, concentrating in on a solitary, stunning minute like a Stephen Curry circus shot or Julian Edelman’s ridiculous capture in Super Bowl LI. Even aside from the highlight reel, sporting activities figures make some great memes. Who can forget Tom Brady left hanging when he tries to get a substantial-five? Or Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney not amazed with her silver medal on vault? GIFs are small, entirely digestible moments from sporting events, even for people who really don’t on a regular basis stick to sporting activities. GIFs are shared on Twitter and Facebook, emailed to friends, and contribute to our culture. Even though I love a lot of sporting activities, the Winter season Olympics are not truly my detail, but I do love catching up on the highlights by way of social media.

There are no shortage of GIF-deserving moments in the Olympics, like Mirai Nagasu becoming the to start with female from the United States to land a triple axel in the Olympics, or Chloe Kim’s stunning — and historic — halfpipe tips which gained her a gold medal, or a image finish in velocity skating. But IOC doesn’t want you to make them, or even see kinds that are not made by an special licensee. Of class, as a lot of pointed out in 2016, it would be exceptionally challenging for IOC to law enforcement its rule, at minimum for person-produced content, supplied how rapidly content is produced, posted, and reposted on-line.

Enter the help of social media platforms, undertaking the bidding of IOC. The Planet Intellectual House Corporation (WIPO) acknowledges that IOC “has set in area a collection of measures to guard its own IP legal rights and people of legal rights-keeping broadcasters, from on-line piracy . . . the IOC also employs innovative anti-piracy technology to prevent, monitor and just take motion from the add of unauthorized Olympic content, in cooperation with important video-sharing websites and the related authorities in Game titles host international locations.” What particularly does this mean?

Nicely, for one particular, Twitter is taking down content that doesn’t really infringe copyright. A latest Techdirt post covered Washington Put up reporter Ann Fifield’s complaints that Twitter taken off her video of a unified Korean staff right after IOC claimed that it infringed its copyright. Of class, Fifield observed that the video was hers, not NBC’s, the IOC’s, or any person else. Any copyright would for that reason belong to Fifield. To be very clear, supplied IOC’s battle, Fifield probably violated an IOC rule in filming the video and putting up it (IOC’s social media regulations note that “Participants and Other Accredited Individuals can not publish any video and/or audio of the events, competitions or any other actions which take place at Olympic Venues (which include the Olympic Villages). These kinds of video and/or audio ought to only be taken for personalized use and in certain ought to not be uploaded and/or shared to a putting up, weblog or tweet on any social media platforms, or to a site.”), but that would be some contractual rule and not a copyright violation. IOC could revoke Fifield’s qualifications or pursue some other class of motion, but professing copyright infringement below is not the solution.

Facebook is taking items a step even further, not even waiting for a bogus takedown discover before performing. Evidently, when Fifield tried out to add the video to Facebook, she was met with the subsequent discover: “International Olympic Committee Legal rights Administration blocked your video due to the fact it may possibly have content they own.”

Evidently when IOC claims to be performing “in cooperation with important video-sharing websites” to prevent copyright infringement, it truly means pressuring social media companies to censor content, no matter of intellectual assets legal rights.

Krista L. Cox is a policy attorney who has expended her vocation performing for non-gain companies and associations. She has experience in copyright, patent, and intellectual assets enforcement law, as well as worldwide trade. She at the moment operates for a non-gain member affiliation advocating for balanced copyright. You can achieve her at

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