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30 April 2012

The Olympic Games belongs to humanity, not corporate lawyers

As the Olympic torch leaves Athens for the UK, James West, CEO of photo stock agency Alamy argues that it should stay where it is.

Here he takes to task the draconian rules regarding sharing photographs taken at the forthcoming Olympic Games, whilst children in the birth place of the Olympics are suffering from the consequences of a recession not of their making, James West gives us a frank
solution – and a position that goes far beyond photographers and their rights.

There's a general view in the professional photography industry that any pictures featuring the Olympic logos will (and do) result in the threat of litigation from seriously well resourced lawyers representing the Olympic brand, regardless of the merit of their claims.

If you visit this page you will see a summary of how tightly controlled the Olympic brand has become:

This page sets out, among other things, the following:

'it is unlawful to use the Olympic symbol, the London 2012 logo or the words 'London 2012' in the course of trade without LOCOG's written consent.'

The message is basically this - when the Olympic Games are in town you cannot use words like 'London 2012' (plus a myriad of others). Eh? Come again? Why not? Because the games are so expensive to host - the host nation is fitted out for a massive roaming sporting redevelopment project that takes years to prepare for and lasts just two weeks - and so corporate sponsors and taxpayers must pay vast sums of money to make it happen, which in turn means the Olympic Games must operate like brand mafia to enforce their precious marketing and broadcast rights.

As a consequence of this we have the heavy handed tactics (which forced a partial climb down by an official spokesperson recently) like the ban on London 2012 ticket holders from taking pictures and sharing them online. Generally, the law on photography is quite straightforward and simple in the UK - if you are in a public place you can take a picture of anything and anyone you wish. The same principle applies to the press. On private land however it's a different matter.

The Olympic Games, in fact, belongs to the country where it all started over 2,000 years ago - Greece. Reports claim that some children in Athens are having to get by on one meal per day. This from a nation in Western Europe and the birth place of the Olympic Games which, incidentally, already has all the infrastructure necessary to hold a modern Olympic Games.

Humanity should reclaim its right to the Olympic Games, kick out the state sponsored brand mafia, and give it back to Greece. Commerce will flourish unhindered by the corrupting influence of massive sprawling urban redevelopment white elephants. And maybe the Greek economy would benefit too.

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