Olympic Laws – A Short Guide For Trouble Makers
Reposted with permission from Kevin Blowe of the Newham Monitoring Project from his blog Random Blowe
A number of people have asked me to clarify what impact Olympic-specific legislation may have on local people and anyone promoting protests or making political statements during this summer’s Games. Here is a short guide.
There are two relevant Acts of Parliament – The Olympic Symbol Etc (Protection) Act 1995 (the “1995 Act”) and The London Olympic Games And Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the “2006 Act”). Both are primarily concerned with providing special protection for Olympic brands, sponsors and copyright holders, over and above existing copyright or contract law.
The 1995 Act created an ‘Olympic Association Right’ that may be infringed when the five-rings symbol, the Games’ mottoes and the word Olympic, Olympian or similar words are used without authorisation in the course of trade. The 2006 Act created a new ‘London Olympic Association Right’ giving LOCOG the power to prevent unauthorised associations with the Games. It also created “Listed Expressions” in the form of two lists, A and B. List A contains the words Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012 and Twenty Twelve. List B contains the words London, Medals, Sponsor, Gold, Silver and Bronze (and even the word “Summer”). Use of any two words in list A or any word in list A with one or more of the words in list B is not permitted.
This means even references to London as ‘Olympic Host City’ in any advert could be an infringement, so local traders will need to tread very carefully if they want to avoid breaking incredibly restrictive laws. For example, the advert on the right, which I photographed recently in the window of a shop in Newham, is almost certainly a very bad idea and it is also worth mentioning that infringements are criminal offences, not civil grievances. The maximum fine is £20,000.
However, the use of protected words or listed expressions is allowed for editorial use in news bulletins and journalistic articles about the Games or the Olympic movement – as long as they are not “advertorials“.
For more on brands and marketing, see London 2012’s UK statutory marketing rights on the LOCOG website [PDF]
Attending the Games – No Uploading Photos
Visitors to Games events will find that the terms and conditions of their tickets include a long list of restricted items that includes “printed matter bearing religious, political or offensive content or content contrary to public order and/or morality” and forbidden behaviour’ that includes “activity or protest related to unions, political or religious subjects” and “unauthorised transmissions and/or recording through mobile telephones”.
Specifically, there is a restriction on uploading photos pr videos to FaceBook, Twitter or YouTube: “a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally”.
In the Vicinity of Games Venues
The 2006 Act includes the provision to make regulations about advertising in the vicinity of London Olympic event zones. These are listed in the Act but in east London include the whole of the London boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
However, in December last year, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport issued the London Olympic Games (Trading and Advertising) (England) Regulations 2011. These outlined restrictions on “advertising activity in an event zone” that apply to any goods, services or business and include “advertising of a non-commercial nature” – although not to a “not-for-profit body” with charitable purposes.
Section 22 of the 2006 Act gives a constable or enforcement officer the power to enter land or premises on which they reasonably believe an illegal advertisement has been placed and “remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article”. However, there is a specific “exception for demonstrations“ – restrictions do not apply to “advertising activity intended to demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person or body of persons” or to “publicise a belief, cause or campaign”, as long as this does not promote or advertise goods or services.
Individuals are also excluded from restrictions “if they displaying an advertisement on the individual’s body”, as long as there is not reasonable cause to suspect that they are engaged in ‘ambush marketing’. This means it is OK to simply wander around wearing a t-shirt advertising a brand that is not one of the Olympic sponsors.
It also means I can wear my Official Protester t-shirt in Stratford without fear of contravening Olympic laws, but not inside the Olympic Park if I want to avoid invalidating a ticket – and if I was foolish enough to set up a stall and try to sell these t-shirts, I’d be in deep trouble.