Why You Could Be Prosecuted for Posting Olympics Photos to Facebook

Sam Laird

For an event being hyped by organizers as the world's "first social media Olympics," the summer 2012 games in London have some pretty antisocial policies.

Athletes will not be allowed to tweet photos of themselves with products that aren't official Olympics sponsors or share photos or videos from inside the athletes' village.

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Fans, too, could be barred from sharing on Facebook and YouTube photos and videos of themselves enjoying the action.

Business owners will have restrictions as well. They won't be able to lure customers by advertising with official Olympics nomenclature such as "2012 Games." Regulators will scour Olympic venues to potentially obfuscate non-sponsor logos on objects as trivial as toilets.

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The imminent crackdown is largely the result of a pair of stringent brand-protecting acts passed in the United Kingdom in preparation for the games, as detailed in this recent Guardian report. The pieces of legislation are 2006's London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act and 1995's Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act.

Breaking the big-brother rules will be a criminal offense.

It's hard to imagine the 'branding police' actually sifting through social media to go after people who post photos of themselves at Olympic venues, but at least one legal expert says the scenario is not out of the question.

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Paul Jordan is a partner and marketing specialist at a law firm that is helping official Olympics sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses comply with the laws.

"On a very literal reading of the terms and conditions, there's certainly an argument that the IOC could run that you wouldn't be able to post pictures to Facebook," he tells The Guardian.

"I think what they are trying to avoid is any formal commercial exploitation of those images, but that's not what it says. And for that reason, it would appear that if you or I attended an event, we could only share our photos with our aunties around the kitchen table. Which seems a bizarre consequence."

Do you think brand sponsors and marketers have too much power in sports today? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, nkbimages

This story originally published on Mashable here.