Can you trademark “winter”?

I had to look at the date of this article in IHT, but it unfortunately didn’t say April 1st. Turns out that the Canadian governement is proposing to change the law to grant the organizing committee of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games the rights to common words like “winter”, “gold”, “silver”, “medals”, “sponsor”, “games”, “21st” and “2010”. The article says that journalists are exempted from the law, but will bloggers get the green light too? Probably not, if the IOC has the same anti-blog attitude as in the past.

[Via Dennis.]

IOC video clip policy

Streaming video from the Olympics have been much debated. This FAQ from Swedish Television shows yet another example of IOC’s goofy control policies:

According to IOC rules, in order to view video clips you must:

> You must have Windows 98 SE or a newer version.

> You must have Windows Media Player version 9 installed.

> Your computer must allow cookies.

> You must register with username and password of your own choice, and a valid email address. Then you must log in using this information when you want to watch the clips. Registration is only necessary the first time you want to watch a clip.

> Your bandwitdh must be faster than 100 kbps. A bandwidth test of your connection will be performed.

> Your computer must be located within the Eurovision-area. An IP-test and control of your system clock will be performed to establish your time zone.

Observ that your registration is personal! You cannot send video clips to another computer. Illegitimate use of video clips will result in us blocking your VPN, Proxy and IP-address for use of streaming without notice.


IOC bans blogging

While most organizations are adapting to a world where transparency is the cathword, the IOC is moving in the opposite direction. With an attitude worthy a dictatorship, the IOC tries to control every communicative aspect of the Olympic games in Athens.

First we learned that spectators are banned from the arenas if they bring in products of the wrong brand. Then we all laughed at the moronic linking policy of Athens 2004.

Now USA Today reports that Olympic athletes are largely barred from posting online diaries such as blogs.

“The IOC’s rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists — and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.”

“The Olympic guidelines threaten to yank credentials from athletes who are in violation as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action for any monetary damages.”

The US army tried a control/command approach in Iraq but failed miserably. Why would the IOC succeed in controlling the debate, and for what reason? Today, media consumers are also producers and anyone equipped with a digital camera or an internet connection can scoop big media. Trying to stop people from expressing what they see is a violation of freedom of speech.

In the end, it is we as consumers who pay for this spectacle by bying products from the sponsors, by watching the ads that finance media, by visiting the arenas and so on. We should demand a diversity of voices and not accept propaganda style reporting.

(Link via Micro Persuasion)