Sharing your user generated content from the Olympics – what can and can’t you do?

Are you going to the Olympics this year?

Then before you get your camera/smartphone out you should have a quick read of LOCOG‘s terms and conditions.

For those that don’t want to read the terms and conditions in full, I have set out a commentary (not a critque) on the key terms below.

Can I share my photos and video clips from the Games on social media websites?
The terms and conditions of purchase prevent spectators contain fairly restrictive conditions on what spectators may do with photos, videos and sound recordings that they take whilst attending the Games:

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, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.

Note in particular the prohibition on commercial exploitation (understandable, given that extensive commercial broadcasting and photography arrangements are already in place) and sharing content on social networking websites “and the internet more generally.”

“Games” means the London 2012 Olympics and London 2012 Paralympics. This will clearly include footage of the actual sporting events and stadiums, but does it go further? Given that these restrictions form part of the ticketing terms and conditions I think they can only apply to media created by spectators within the ticketed areas – so inside Olympic Park and the other venues.

So if you want to take a photo of the stadium using Instagram (to pretend that you are actually at the 1968 games in Mexico City), tag some friends in a video of an event at the North Greenwich Arena on Facebook, or even simply tweet a photo of the view of Olympic Park from the top of The Orbit, then tough.

If you share a photo of the Olympic stadium taken from outside the perimeter of Olympic Park, or the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge, then you are presumably ok.

But there are millions of spectators. Will LOCOG actually enforce this?
Whether and how LOCOG will actually enforce this restriction remains to be seen. With millions of spectators attending events, it’s hard to see how it can monitor uploads to all the social media networks, never mind ensure that non-compliant content is taken down.

And what about athletes and support staff? They won’t be subject to the terms and conditions of purchase. Have they had to accept similar restrictions on their use of social media?

The conundrum for LOCOG is the difficulty in balancing the legitimate interests of it commercial rightsholders (both broadcasters and sponsors) and inoffensive personal use of social media networks by millions of spectators.

Legally, these terms might protect those commercial rights, but whether they will work in practice is another question.

So can I share content on the London 2012 website?
Perhaps confusingly, LOCOG does appear to invite spectators to share content on its own website. But, again, you might want to check the terms of use before you do this.

As you might expect, by uploading content onto the London 2012 website you grant LOCOG a fairly wide licence to exploit and reproduce your user generated content (UGC). That licence is, on the face of it, non-exclusive, so in theory you could also grant a similar licence to other entities and (provided that you are not breaching the spectator terms and conditions mentioned above) share it on other social media websites, or offer it for commercial licensing through, say, Flickr and Getty Images.

But there is a sting in the tail. Firstly, you waive your moral rights (so have no right to be acknowledged as the creator of the UGC). Secondly, the licence is perpetual, so once uploaded it is unlikely that you can bring it to an end by, say, removing your UGC from the website. And thirdly:

…you grant us an option (“Option”) to acquire the exclusive rights to utilise such UGC in all media by way of an assignment by you to us…(“Assignment”), which Option we may exercise on giving you notice by email within 90 days from the date on which you upload the UGC, and you agree that: (A) during that 90-day period and for 30 days thereafter, you will not utilise or authorise anyone else to utilise such UGC in any commercial medium or in any public, non-commercial medium without our prior written consent; (B) within 30 days following our giving such notice, you and we shall negotiate (both acting in good faith and reasonably) on an exclusive basis a sum to be paid to you in consideration of the Assignment (“Option Sum”); (C) if the Option Sum is not agreed within such 30-day period, we shall thereafter have a right of last refusal, under which (1) you will give us written notice by email setting out the proposed terms of any bona fide third-party offer…and we shall have a 30-day period in which to acquire the same on the same terms and (3) if we decline, you may only enter into such third-party agreement subject in all applicable respects to our and our licensors’ proprietary rights and then on the exact terms offered; and (D) in the event that the Option Sum is agreed, you shall promptly following our request sign a written confirmation of the Assignment…

what does this mean in plain english?
What this means is that LOCOG has the right to acquire ownership of your UGC, should it so wish. If it gives you notice that it wishes to do this then you will have to remove the UGC from any other social media website for a period of 120 days, whilst you agree a fee for the assignment. If you don’t agree a fee then LOCOG has the right to match any fee agreed with any third party. However, the value to any third party agency may be diminished by the extensive (and perpetual) rights already granted to LOCOG when uploading the UGC to the London 2012 website.

In short, this clause appears to be another way of limiting the ability of third parties to commercially exploit Olympics related content.

So, if you take a fantastic photo of the Olympics atmosphere that you think could become an iconic image, then think carefully before sharing it on the London 2012 website.

As the terms and conditions say:


You have been warned!

PS do you accept user generated content on your website? How do you deal with the IP issues? Let us know by taking part in our survey on how organisations value and exploit their intellectual assets.

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