Sochi Olympics – Social Media for Personal Use Only

The limitations and restrictions regarding social media use during the 2014 Winter Olympics Games continue to be controversial. While the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) has eased up on their social media restrictions over the years, the IOC guidelines are fairly similar to the guidelines provided for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

(So no apparent extra control over social media as compared to prior Olympics – unlike allegations that participants and athletes will face the most invasive and massive surveillance ever, including monitoring of all communications, and allegations that it is the most corrupt Olympics in history. )

Take a look at the IOC guidelines for participants.

The IOC states that it: “Actively encourages and supports athletes and other accredited persons at the Olympic Games to take part in social media and to post, blog and tweet their experiences.”

At first glance the IOC, and in turn the Canadian Olympic Committee which follows the IOC guidelines, support the use of social media. However the guidelines state that neither an athlete nor an accredited person can act as a journalist during the games, unless they are at games as an official journalist.

The guidelines make it clear that they cannot make any commercial use of social media, images or video taken at the games.

Nor can they use professional equipment to record images or video, which includes a ban on the use of tripods and monopods. While they are allowed to post photographs they take at Olympic venues on social media, any video must be for personal use only and is not to be posted on social media.

Even accredited print journalists are prohibited from using professional video equipment and posting video.

Spectators are subject to similar restrictions as athletes. The 23 page Ticketing Terms and Conditions (pdf) state:

Still images taken by spectator may be shared privately and are exclusively for personal, non-commercial purposes. Video recording can be made only with the use of domestic handheld cameras. Images, videos and sound recordings of the Games taken by a spectator cannot be used for any purpose other than for private, personal, archival, non-commercial purposes i.e the Spectator may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties.

The hype of the Olympic Games, these limitations, and the controversy surrounding social media use in the past (two athletes were expelled from the 2012 London Games for social media faux pas) will no doubt add to various controversial aspects of the games this February.

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