The Olympics and Creative Commons Photographs Part 2

Today I heard back from the IOC regarding my request to continue to use a Creative Commons license on my Olympic photographs.

For the full saga, read part 1 of The Olympics and Creatives Commons Photographs.

On Friday, I sent a query asking the IOC if I could continue to use a Creative Commons license, though for non-commercial use. I figured that they were deep in discussions about the request because of the slow reply. Not that I minded, because it indicated that they were giving it due consideration. Great news for everyone I figured.

However, yesterday I received an email from the Media and Communications Director of the Australian Olympics Committee asking that I give him a call. He wasn’t happy. He happened to have just returned from Copenhagen, and he was across the issue. Apparently people had been contacting him from around the world to complain about the poor Aussie “battler” that the IOC were picking on.

In the phone call he suggested that I’d gone off, “half cocked,” and should not have shared the IOC’s letter on Flickr. He explained that the IOC were more than happy for me to share my photos on Flickr, and that the licensing was the only issue. He suggested that I’d incorrectly informed people that they had an issue with the sharing.

I explained that I had not informed people incorrectly, and was very careful about what I said. I had been confused as to the intent of the letter, so I left the interpretation open to others. We ended the conversation after I agreed to let everyone know that the IOC were happy for me to share my images.

After the chat, I sent a new email to the IOC to find out if any progress had been made with my inquiry.

I wanted to touch base with you again to see if there was any further
progress on your side with respect to my inquiry into the use of a
Creative Commons license that is non-commercial.

I really appreciate your last email, and also some clarity from the AOC.

I’d love to resolve this and make what ever changes are required.

I’d also like to point out that I have no intent to make things
difficult for the IOC, and that although I note that some people have
contacted you regarding the issue, I think that your response to my
query about the letter you originally sent have been very respectful.

Kind regards

I hoped that I’d hear back quickly, and I could put this saga behind me.

This morning I awoke to a new email from the IOC. In some ways, the response was promising. However, in other ways, it was not what I had hoped.

Hi Richard,

We carefully considered your previous email and I am happy to say that we are assessing the terms you proposed to use for licensing your pictures on your flickr account.

However, the IOC’s current policy is to restrict the use of pictures taken at the venues to private, domestic and non-commercial use and does not allow licensing of pictures to third parties, even for free non-commercial use, for the reasons I explained in my previous email.

Therefore, for the time being the IOC considers full copyright as the only suitable credit and asks that you change the license of the photos taken inside of the Olympic venues to “all rights reserved”.

Should this policy finally be amended, I will inform you in due time.

In the meantime, we thank you for your complying with the above.

What’s fantastic is they are considering the use of Creative Commons on Flickr. My hope is that in the not too distant future they’ll give the go ahead, and it will apply to any photos people take at Olympic events. What a great win that would be for everyone in general.

Unfortunately for me, I decided to change the license on my Olympic photographs to copyright for the time being. It’s disappointing, but I think it’s the fair thing to do. Although many people believe that the IOC would struggle to enforce a contract agreed at a venue in China, with an Australian citizen, for photographs hosted on a U.S. web service, I’m not the type of person to thumb my nose at corporations.

So tonight, I have changed the license on 238 photographs. Hopefully, temporarily to copyright.

In the end it seems that the IOC do not have an issue with me sharing my photos. That’s great news. Unfortunately, they needed to send a legal letter to get the ball rolling. As I said in my last blog post, they really should have just given me a call, or a gentle email asking for me to change my license. However, it could be great in the long run because this issue has prompted the IOC to investigate the use of Creative Commons. An organisation like the IOC endorsing CC would be a massive win for us all.

Let’s see what happens.

In the mean time, I’d love to thank everyone who gave me their support. In only a week, we prompted the IOC to consider how Creative Commons could be a great thing for the Olympic movement.

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9 thoughts on “The Olympics and Creative Commons Photographs Part 2

  1. Pingback: The Olympics and Creative Commons Photographs « Richard Giles

  2. I can appreciate how it must feel to have a heavyweight like the IOC breathing down your neck. Their stance seems very much out of order to me. However, you have started the ball rolling in other ways by getting this discussion started.

    I have directed Amateur Photographer magazine here in the UK onto this story. With London 2012 on the horizon, UK readers are going to be very interested in this.

    I have had good dealings with AP magazine in the past and they have covered many stories that I have directed them to.

  3. Pingback: A short story about the olympics and non-commercial CC photos | EFA

  4. hey… thx for keeping us abreast of this situation. you’re doing great work. i’ve shot the last 2 olympics as well and will be here for vancouver 2010 so all this stuff is super relevant and insightful. keep it up! :)

  5. i’d like to get in contact with people who downloaded the pictures with the original creative commons licence.

    as you can see in the full licence text, the licence keeps intact even if the licensor chooses a different license term…

    and everybody who downloaded the works under creative commons can spread them under creative commons. see the fulltext:

    8. Miscellaneous

    1. Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work or a Collection, the Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License.

    • The Usain Bolt photo that caught the IOC’s attention in the first place is still freely available from Wikimedia Commons and is widely used on Wikipedia and elsewhere:

      The IOC seems to be essentially clueless about how free licenses work, both from a legal and a social standpoint. There’s no putting this genie back in the bottle, and trying to do so (for example, going after downstream users who aren’t bound to any ticket terms, or worse, harassing Giles further) would be a PR nightmare for them.

  6. I want to use the Kobe Bryant Picture for a state competition. Is there ant way i can use the original image and get copyright from the owner?

    please reply

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