Obama Super PAC Gets Lesson in Olympic IP Rights

A political action committee (PAC) supporting President Barack Obama recently learned that the International Olympics Committee vigorously protects its intellectual property (IP) rights. After the IOC alleged that Priorities USA Action violated copyright law, YouTube removed their political advertisement from its website.

As reported by ABC News, the advertisement included video footage of Mitt Romney at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. The clips were edited so it appears Romney is personally welcoming teams from China, India and Burma, highlighting the Super PAC’s criticisms of Romney for allegedly outsourcing jobs to these countries.

However, because it features copyrighted images of the 2002 Opening Ceremonies, Priorities USA was forced to remove the Olympic-themed advertisement. It now appears both parties will have to be more careful if seeking to bring Romney’s role in the 2002 games into the presidential campaign.

Companies seeking to capitalize on the London 2012 Games should see this as a warning. The IOC and the London Organising Committee of the Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have already indicated that they plan to vigorously defend their IP rights against unauthorized use during the games. In addition, the U.K. has strong laws in place to protect against infringement.

If you have questions about the use of another’s material in your ads or website, consult a legal professional such as myself before you spend money on development, or worse, make a significant investment, and then find out you can’t use the material.

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