Victoria Pendleton will not be able to tweet about tucking into her Weetabix on the morning of race day, or post a video message to fans from her room in the athletes' village. Pub landlords will be banned from posting signs reading: "Come and watch the London Games from our big screen!" Fans in the crowd won't be allowed to upload snippets of the day's action to YouTube – or even, potentially, to post their snaps from inside the Olympic Village on Facebook. And a crack team of branding "police", the Games organisers Locog have acknowledged, will be checking every bathroom in every Olympic venue – with the power to remove or tape over manufacturers' logos even on soap dispensers, wash basins and toilets. With just a little more than three months to go until the opening of the London 2012 Games, attention is increasingly turning to what many legal experts consider to be the most stringent restrictions ever put in place to protect sponsors' brands and broadcasting rights, affecting every athlete, Olympics ticket holder and business in the UK. Locog insists the protections were essential to secure the contracts that have paid for the Olympics, but some fear the effect could be to limit the economic benefits to the capital's economy – and set a precedent for major national celebrations in future. Britain already has a range of legal protections for brands and copyright holders, but the Olympic Games demand their own rules. Since the Sydney Games in 2000, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has required bidding governments to commit to introducing bespoke legislation to offer a further layer of legal sanction. In 2006, accordingly, parliament passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, which, together with the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act of 1995, offers a special level of protection to the Games and their sponsors over and above that already promised by existing copyright or contract law. A breach of these acts will not only give rise to a civil grievance, but is a criminal offence... As well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word "Olympics", the five-rings symbol and the Games' mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised "association". This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. Expressions likely to be considered a breach of the rules would include any two of the following list: "Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve". Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach. The two-word rule is not fixed, however: an event called the "Great Exhibition 2012" was threatened with legal action last year under the Act over its use of "2012" (Locog later withdrew its objection). A photoshoot promoting easyJet's new routes from London Southend airport was also interrupted by a Locog monitor after local athlete Sally Gunnell was handed a union flag to drape over her shoulders. According to reports, Locog felt this would create too direct an association with her famous pose after winning Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992 (British Airways, rather than easyJet, is the airline sponsor of London 2012). Locog chose not to comment on the incident, but aspokeswoman said: "If we did not take steps to protect the brand from unauthorised use and ambush marketing, the exclusive rights which our partners have acquired would be undermined. Without the investment of our partners, we simply couldn't stage the Games."...The Olympics Games really is going to be a miserable, expensive experience, and a disaster for Britain. Chris Moriarty of the Chartered Institute of Marketing does make the point in the article that "these companies are paying for the Olympics, and if they weren't paying for it, we would be paying for it." I assume he means "paying even more public money that the billions we are forking out already."
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Draconian branding restrictions at #London2012
The Guardian reports: