Friday, February 19, 2010

Did I Actually Violate the IOC's Copyrights?

As you know, I've been up in Vancouver, BC at the 2010 Winter Olympics Games. Earlier this week, after attending the men's 500 meter speed skating event at the Richmond Olympic Oval and the USA versus Russia women's hockey game, I wrote two blog postings that included both photos and short videos shot inside the respective venues. Those videos were shot on a small Canon digital pocket camera and were certainly not of commercial quality. They were meant solely to be shared with family and friends. I included those videos in my blog postings, which has largely replaced letter writing when I want to share information with more than just a few friends and family members. However, in order to do so, I uploaded the videos to YouTube and then embedded them into this blog. I never suspected that the IOC would be monitoring YouTube nor that my crude videos would cause any problems. Boy, was I wrong.

At 5:30am on Thursday morning, I received a series of notifications from YouTube that informed me that YouTube had "removed access to your a result of a notification by the International Olympic Committee claiming that this material is infringing."

There was nothing I could do about this yesterday, since at the time I received the notifications I was in San Diego as one of the presenters at an AUGI CAD Camp event. Upon returning home, I read (with the assistance of a magnifying glass since the print is approximately 4 point type) the fine print on the back of my Olympic tickets.

To say that I was astounded would be an understatement. I had no idea that by spending several thousand dollars to attend events at the 2010 Winter Olympics I had abandoned so many of my personal rights and granted such draconian authority to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee). However, it seems that one right they might not be able to claim is copyright infringement by my videos. Because right there, in 4 point type, it says, "Images and videos and/or sound recordings of events or related activities created by the ticket holder may be used only for the ticket holder's personal, private and non-commercial purposes..."

The only word in this clause that could be used to claim copyright infringement by my videos is the word "private." YouTube is certainly NOT private. By posting my videos on YouTube, my intention was indeed to share them, but based on their content and quality, I cannot believe that anyone would conclude that they were posted for anything other than personal, non-commercial purposes. My intention was to share my Olympic experience with family, friends, and followers of this blog. I don't think the good people at the IOC understand the nature of modern social networks.

I've received several emails recommending that I file a counter-notification under section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but quite frankly, I really don't want to open that can of worms. I may ultimately simply host the videos somewhere other than YouTube and revise the blog postings so that the videos are once again available for viewing by friends and family, email the videos to a handful of people, or just forget about the whole thing. We'll see.

As those who know me are no doubt aware, I am a huge fan of the Olympics. My other activities come to a virtual stand-still every two years when the Olympics take place. I had the rare opportunity in 1976 to attend the Summer Olympics in Montreal and watched my friend and high school track teamate Mike Roche compete for the USA in the men's 3000 meter steeple chase. I've looked forward to attending the 2010 Winter Games ever since it was announced that Vancouver would be the host city. I even applied for a job with VANOC. And I'm already making plans to attend the 2012 Games in London.

So I have no desire to engage in any sort of dispute with the IOC or VANOC. I intend to go back up to Vancouver over the coming week to attend many more events. I have nothing but praise for the athletes and volunteers that have already made the 2010 Winter Olympics an incredible experience, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. And I encourage anyone who has the chance to attend an Olympic event in person.

Here in its entirety (and at a size large enough for mere mortals to actually read) is what it says on the back of each ticket for the the 2010 Winter Olympics:


POSSESSION AND USE OF THIS TICKET ARE SUBJECT TO THE TICKET LICENSE AGREEMENT (available at AND THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS. By purchasing, possessing or attempting to use this ticket, you acknowledge and agree that you have read, understood and unconditionally agree to be bound by all provisions of the Ticket License Agreement and these Terms and Conditions (which supplement the Ticket License Agreement).

THIS TICKET IS SUBJECT TO IMMEDIATE CANCELLATION BY THE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES (VANOC) WITHOUT ANY REFUND OR OTHER COMPENSATION, IF IT IS PURCHASED OR ACQUIRED, OR SOLD OR USED, IN BREACH OF THE TICKET LICENSE AGREEMENT OR THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS. This ticket is a revocable license for admission to the session for which this ticket is issued. This ticket is and will at all times remain the exclusive property of VANOC and must be produced for inspection at any time at VANOC's request. The resale or attempted resale of this ticket at a price greater than that printed hereon, without VANOC's express prior written consent, is strictly prohibited. This ticket may not be resold, delivered or transferred to any person who intends to resell, or facilitate the resale of this ticket or use this ticket in breach of the Ticket License Agreement or these Terms and Conditions. All sales or transfers of this ticket must be effected through VANOC's Ticket Management Program (at This ticket may not be used for any political, commercial, advertising or other promotional purposes (including contests and sweepstakes) without VANOC's express prior written consent. The ticket hold must comply with all conditions of entry and the applicable venue code of conduct. Images and video and/or sound recordings of events or related activities created by the ticket holder may be used only for the ticket holder's personal, private, and non-commercial purposes, and my not be used for any other purpose or by any other person. The ticket holder grants permission to VANOC and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and their representatives and licensees to film, photograph and record the ticket holder's image or likeness and to reproduce, broadcast, publish, or otherwise use that image or likeness in connection with the live or recorded video display or other broadcast, transmission or reproduction of events (in whole or in part) or for any other purposes, promotional or otherwise, all without any compensation and without any liability to the ticket holder whatsoever for any such use. These Terms and Conditions are governed by British Columbia law.


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