by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 9th 2009
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.