London 2012, the crackdown of Copyright Police

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The Olympic Committee has imposed strict copyright rules for the 2012 London Olympics. Many organizations, such as the Accademia Apulia UK, a non-profit organization, have already been forced to make deep changes in their advertising campaigns.

There has been an extraordinary crackdown by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the use of images and words connected to the 2012 London Olympics. It is a crackdown first introduced by the Sydney Olympics with the Sidney 2000 Games Protection Act 1996, but that with London 2012 has taken a far more stringent turn. The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 enforces copyright of brand behind the most world famous sport event. Any unauthorized use of the Olympic brand will attract heavy penalties.

And the crackdown is not just on people ‘borrowing’ the iconic 5-ring Olympic logo. The 2006 Act will punish anyone who uses all iconography connected to the Olympics and, worst of all, it will even prohibit the use of single words such as “London” "Olympics", "Paralympics" etc., and word combinations such as "London 2012". You can, of course, become an official sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in which case, depending on sponsorship level, you will be allowed to use the coveted words and/or symbols.

Several companies have already been penalized and forced to make radical changes in their advertising campaigns. The website Marketing Week reported that the low-cost airline Easy Jet had to give up a commercial featuring 1992 Olympic pentathlete champion Sally Gunnell. Journalist Fulvio Bianchi, from the Italian newspaper la Repubblica, stated that Car manufactures Mercedes were slapped with a warning for having used "leaving for London" in an advertising campaign, adding that the same happened to fashion guru Giorgio Armani. Despite a signed agreement with CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee), Armani was not allowed to include the Italian Olympic team in one of their commercials (The reference is the same: Fulvio Bianchi from la Repubblica).

Doom & Gloom

To be affected by the crackdown are not just the big brands - pubs and restaurants too. For example pubs are not allowed to offer free Olympic game tickets during quiz nights or even broadcast live the games on their TV screens - a common practice when big sport events are on.

The same applies to charitable organizations. The Accademia Apulia UK, a non-profit London-based organization, has had to ditch all marketing material of one of their upcoming event because its name appeared linked to the Cultural Olympiad. A bunch of volunteers had in fact created a new logo for a multi-cultural event when the copyright police warned them of the infringement.

All are equal before the Law

The 2006 Act does not care if you are selling t-shirts outside the Olympic stadium or if you are promoting human rights. Again, Accademia Apulia, who wanted to link their multicultural-promoting project to the concept of universality as expressed by the Olympics, was met with disapproval.
Despite the initial setback with the copyright police businesses, large or small, have found by now a way of getting around the copyright restrictions. We know Accademia Apulia have.

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