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Don't mention the 'O' word: A closer look at those Olympic media restrictions

If you're planning to publish user-generated content from spectators at the Olympic Games, it's best to have your solicitor on standby.

There are strict rules on what ticketholders can do with photos and videos they take.
And one thing's clear – they can only post them on their Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages and personal blogs if there's no commercial purpose involved.

So that rules out sending them in to newspaper, magazine or broadcasting websites.

The small print on the Olympic tickets said: 'Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally."

Fortunately, some events like the marathon and the cycling road races, are ticket-free, so the restrictions don't apply.

But the rules apply to athletes, too. So don't think you can get a competitor to send you live images or audio from an event, or from the Olympic village.

Athletes and other 'accredited persons' are banned from uploading images to social media platforms. They can't even tweet! And if they want to post a photo or image taken in the Olympic village, they must get consent from anyone appearing in it.

The regulations state: 'We understand that spectators will want to share their photographs of London 2012 events on social networking sites and we are not looking to stop them from doing this.

'However we are looking to stop people who seek to use them for commercial purposes. Clarification on this matter will be provided when the tickets are distributed."

These rules are in addition to the stringent media restrictions on using the Olympic logo and various associated words (including, incidentally, 2012 – note to self: I must destroy my calendar).

The media can use the Olympic rings, the London 2012 logo and other symbols in editorial news pieces without authorisation.

But competitions, sponsorships and other promotions that use the exclusive Olympic words or symbols are banned.

So are advertising features that, for example, imply endorsement or affiliation with the event organisers

A London 2012 spokesman said: 'Concerted marketing campaigns or promotional events framed around the Games are likely to create an association between the business in question
and the Games, and may well therefore infringe our legal rights."

You can link to the website, provided you use a text link. But you can't use a hyperlinked Olympic logo, or include an Olympic symbol in your text link.

One bit of good news, though. The rules do allow you to have an office party to celebrate the Games – and to put a notice on the noticeboard to promote it. 'We will of course have no objection,'the rules say.

Just don't mention the O word …

Cleland Thom runs Cleland Thom Journalism Training


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