Copy Fright (aka “Don’t mention the Olympics”)

A friend commented on FaceBook that she’d been asked, by her publisher, to remove references to the Olypmics from a commissioned story she is writing because they were anxious about copyright implications. She linked to the government’s pdf on Brand Protection. On page 8 a table explains that the words “Olympic, Olympian, Olympiad, Paralympic, Paralympian, Paralympiad [and] their plurals, translations and anything similar to them” (my emphasis) are protected. On the next page, we learn that “Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, Twenty-Twelve … London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver, bronze” may fall into protected territory, depending on which combinations are used and context.

It all sounds a bit draconian. The aim is to have a cast iron set of legislation with which to whack tat-peddlers, ticket touts, bandwagon jumpers and so on – and hurrah for that; but it’s also broad scope catch-all, alarmingly vague in nature. It gives examples of some ads and such like that would be ok and some that would not. The line is not always entirely clear. It then unhelpfully says they’ll be too busy to answer individual queries regarding these matters.

However, the main key seems to be that profiting from the games is to be left to sponsors. Forums discussing the games are probably ok, unless they claim official links to any involved parties. Websites are ok, as long as they aren’t claiming official status or links.

On that basis, and stating quite clearly I will not be making a profit out of this poem (if only! – on any poems), here’s my ten minute take on the copyrighting of words that have been around for ages …

Copy Fright

Supporting our superlative sponsors
is what Britain aspires to this year;
we’ll keep on track – it
means they’ll make a packet
flogging sweat-shop-produced souvenirs.

Our copyright legislation’s Byzantium –
you can still mention them; but the Greeks,
twenty-twelve, summer,
Olympic spirit or runner,
will have you hauled up by the beaks.

Next year Brit gov plc’s lovely lawyers
will be monetising more ways to sue –
We’ll copyright “God”
then send out a squad
and invoke him for eternal revenue.


(btw, the above is (c) Myfanwy Fox, 2012)

Note: “Beak” is a slang term for magistrate.

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4 Responses to Copy Fright (aka “Don’t mention the Olympics”)

  1. Ron says:

    I like it:) Don’t forget Oscars; can’t use that either… unless your name is Oscar of course.

    • Myfanwy Fox says:

      Cheers, Ron.
      I suppose the Oscars are a bit more recent and specifically an American franchise so I might let them have that; the Olympics have been around a couple of Millenia and are global.

  2. Oxenholme says:

    I question how all this is likely to survive a law-court’s scrutiny.

    Providing one is not trying to pass-off as ab official nor using the terms for advertising I suggest it unlikely. After all, music and book titles cannot be copyrighted. And there are the famous McDonald’s cases..

    Anyway, the five interlocking rings do not represent the Olympic Games: they represent the public’s arses about to be shafted by sports’ organizers and their sponsors, yet again. (If you don’t believe me, check Wiki but give me ten minutes to write that section. And, please note: I mean Wikipedia – not Wiki-leeks!).

    Good poem, Myfanwy. Not even all Greek to me.

  3. Myfanwy Fox says:

    Cheers, Sir.
    All manner of strange things *can* be copyrighted, though. There’s the recent case of Hobbit bashing.

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