London Olympics Bill - disproportionate advertising monopoly powers sought

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The London Olympics Bill sneaked in to Parliament on the 14th July, with virtually no media coverage, due to the London bomb attack on July 7th and the launch of the Olympic Lottery scratchcard, which has now started the competion for "normal" National Lottery funds. This will now reduce the amount of money available for general "good works", including the support of grassroots local sports, which will not be compensated for by the "legacy white elephant" sports facilities, which will be left to be maintained and run at public expense, just like the Millennium Dome etc.

As predicted, the part of the London Olympics Bill which deals with advertising appears to seek excessive legal powers.

It appears that the NuLabour Government is planning to kow tow to the the corporate marketing weasels, and to give away the UK public's "mindshare" to the monopolistic International Olympic Committee, yhereby trampling on existing human rights and perfectly legal trading and advertising practices.

According to the Explanatory Notes, the aim appears to be

"to fulfil obligations imposed by the International Olympic Committee and made within the Host City Contract. In particular, the Contract requires that no advertising is placed outside Olympic venues so as to be within the view of television cameras covering, or spectators watching, Olympic events."

It is simply not good enough to claim that the International Olympic Committee may decide to change its rules sometime in the future. So what ? The IOC are perfectly entitled to make new rules for future Olympic Games, but now they have decided to inflict the 2012 Games on London, they should abide by our exiting rules and laws, and not the other way around.

The exact extent of the "sponsors monopoly zones" extending beyond the actual sports venues, should have been part of the impact assessments and of the public consultation for the London Bid, and should have be binding on the International Olympic Committee.

We have no problem with the use of the official Olympic logo being protected under normal Trademark law, but the pro-Olympic lobby already have a whole Statute devoted solely to the protection of the general Olympic symbol the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995

This new London Olympics Bill Schedule 3 will extend that even further, and will even grant an exclusive monopoly on the use of common English words e.g.

Olympiad, Olympiads, Olympian, Olympians, Olympic, Olympics, Paralympiad, Paralympiads, Paralympian, Paralympians, Paralympic, Paralympics.

on their own or in combination with words like:

"games", "Two Thousand and Twelve", "2012", "twenty twelve".

and

gold, silver, bronze, London, medals, sponsor, summer

This is ridiculous ! Any commercial advertisment for any goods or services which contains the date or an address in London will be deemed to infringe "the London Olympics association right"

Nobody should have an exclusive monopoly on the use of words or numbers like "London" or "summer" or "2012" !

There is also a "reverse burden of proof" clause, whereby you have to attempt to prove your innocence, rather than the normal prsumption of innocence under English law:

"shall be treated, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, as being likely to create in the public mind an association with the London Olympics."

The penalties for breaking these regulations include fines of up to £20,000 plus the re-imbursement of the costs of any Police raid to seize or destroy "unauthorised" advertising.

Again, from the Explanatory Notes:


"It allows for these regulations to supersede any previous permissions for the use of that land, for example permissions granted by local planning authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act (1990)" i.e. pre-exisiting perfectly legal advertising can be suppressed.

"the regulations may disapply existing legislation about the control of advertising" i.e. for the period of the Olympics, areas where intrusive Advertising is forbidden, can be swamped with Official Olympic sponsors' advertising.

The Bill also seeks powers to allow forced entry to your home or property in order to seize or destroy any unauthorised advertisments, even ones for which previous planning approval has been granted.

Incredibly, the Government is also seeking powers to seize or destroy "documents" or, presumably any cinematic projectors, or broadcasting equipment, even if they have nothing to do with any Advertising at all !

London Olympics Bill section 17 Advertising regulations


"(4) The regulations may apply in respect of advertising of any kind including, in particular-

(a) advertising of a non-commercial nature, and

(b) announcements or notices of any kind.

The regulations may apply in respect of advertising in any form including, in particular-

(a) the distribution or provision of documents or articles,

(b) the display or projection of words, images, lights or sounds, and

(c) things done with or in relation to material which has or may have purposes or uses other than as an advertisement."

This is far too much power, covering things which are not even commercial advertising by rivals to the "official olympics sponsors"

Such regulations could be could be used to supress or harass any demonstrations or protests or lobbying which has nothing to do with commercial advertising e.g. a protest or boycott directed at one of the monopoly "Official Olympics Sponsors" such as a sportswear company or a soft drinks manufacturer whose activities in the third world are considered to be exploitative by some people.

Even legal advertising or demonstrations which are not even aimed at the Olympic Games audience could fall foul of these regulations e.g. a political protest in Trafalgar Square, Whitehall or Parliament Square etc. could be supressed because it would be within sight , earshot or television camera range of the Beach Volleyball event venue in Horseguards Parade, throughout the whole Olympic Games period, not just during the couple of days of the sports event itself.

Astonishingly, this London Olympics Bill does not mention commercial advertising or the rules about reporting of the Games over the internet, or over video equipped mobile phones which is something that needs legal clarification, and which the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has under its remit.

We have no problem with the Olympic Games having a monopoly on sponsored advertising inside their own sports arenas, and to have the right to refuse admission to "guerilla marketers" etc.

However, what is being sought are excessive legal powers to infringe on other people's property , land and premises, and to deny existing human rights and pre-existing legal commercial and advertising practices, all for the sake of an unnacountable commercial sports and entertainment event.

These sections of the London Olympics Bill must not be allowed to be passed into law.

8 Comments

"London 2012" as a phrase is already a registered trade mark, which means that misuse can attract up to 10 years imprisonment

see :-
http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/cgi-bin/towerhamlets/newsitem.cgi?file=cons035.txt

It is not clear from the article if "London 2012" is a actually a registered trademark or if the seizure and prosecution is based on the already protected Olympic symbols.

If "London 2012" is already protected under Trademark law, then there is no need for the the "London Olympics association right"

Nobody should have exclusive monopoly rights to commonly used words like "London" or "summer" or "2012".

The Advertising industry is starting to notice how monopolistic this London Olympics Bill is:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4744983.stm

"The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising says that will prevent most companies benefiting at all from 2012.

"This is an unreasonable bill and revisions are required," IPA legal director Marina Palomba told BBC Sport.

"It's absolutely right that official sponsors are protected, but there has to be a balance."

""Blatant ambush marketing has to be prevented but there are already laws in existence to prevent that.

"This is new legislation which gives the event holder unparallelled power. Why should the IOC have the monopoly on the terms London, 2012, summer, gold, silver and bronze?"

"The IPA argues that this will rule out any sort of 2012 "halo effect" for businesses in the UK.

"You won't even be able to say 'come to London in 2012' because it will infringe the act," said Palomba."

" "Suppose you are producing a suntan lotion, you can't say 'get bronze in London in 2012'.

"I made submissions to the DCMS before it published the bill and it hasn't taken into consideration any of my comments at all."

"London businesses in particular will be paying for these Games but they are being deprived of benefiting from them because they will basically have to pretend they are not happening."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4748077.stm

It looks as if the behind the scenes lobbying, and perhaps even our own letter to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has caused some common sense to prevail.

The Government brought forward a couple of Amendments which gets rid of the ridiculous monopoly on the use of the list of "protected words" such as "London" or "2012", and makes it clear that you have to be "passing off" or pretending to be an official Olympic sponsor on your commercial advertising to fall foul of this law. e.g.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmbills/062/06062.35-41.html

"A person does not infringe the Olympics association right by using a controlled representation in a context which is not likely to suggest an association between a person, product or service and the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement; and for the purpose of this subsection�

(a) the concept of an association between a person, product or service and the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement includes, in particular�

(i) any kind of contractual relationship,
(ii) any kind of commercial relationship,
(iii) any kind of corporate or structural connection, and
(iv) the provision by a person of financial or other support for or in connection with the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement, but

(b) a person does not suggest an association with the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement only by making a statement which�

(i) accords with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters, and
(ii) does not make promotional or other commercial use of a protected word by incorporating it in a context to which the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement are substantively irrelevant".

Which is much more like what the Bill should have said in the first place.

I am making a documentary about the advertising standards of the soon to be affected areas of East London due to the coming super powers of the Olympics. I would like to ask if anyone involved in this blog would be interested in taking part. Of course the documentary will never get to TV but it will be screened at the Royal College of Art as part of my final show. I look forward to hearing peoples coments.

What a nightmare I thought my londonolympictickets.co.uk was a winner.Now it seems to be worth zero.

We are approaching 7/7 that horrendous day of the London Bombings. Did LOCOG really put this Act through the back door 2 days later, whilst London and the country was mourning the dead and the mamed? Never mind the families of the dead and the chaos London faced? What a diversion.

The intial cost of holding the Olympics in London was around 3.4 billion. How many people are aware of how much it is costing now within one year? It is an astonishing 5.2 billion, and its only 2006! How many people know how much the London Tax Payer is going to have to contribute to the NEW Sewage Pipeline in the East End? That is what the Tax Payer will end up paying for in the coming years... the increased Taxes!
As it is, without the essential works on the sewage system in the East End, the Olympics cannot be held without resolving this first! So watch your pockets, and dont buy that second home!


Environmentalists have confirmed that any increase in temperature and rainfall, would force the Sewage to overflow into the proposed Olympics sites, did you know this?

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