If you have anything planned for 2012 and want to convey it in England… you better watch out! That year is copyrighted and you could be prosecuted! Words like “Olympics”, “London 2012” and even “2012” are copyrighted! It can’t get more ridiculous than this .. can it?
In fact, the organising committee for a certain upcoming sporting event has decided it would be “disproportionate” to prosecute the author of a book called Olympic Mind Games for breach of copy-right. But, under no less than two acts of parliament, it could if it wanted to.
When it discovered that Robert Ronson’s children’s science-fiction novel was to be published, the organising committee for the previously mentioned happening sent him an email asking that he should use neither the O-word nor the expressions “London 2012, or 2012 etc” in the title. The committee was able to do so under statutes passed in 1995 and 2006, which in effect turn all the elements of its title into a trademark.
In claiming copyright on a word, the organisation dedicated to the promotion of the competition to be held two years into the next decade is both following and extending a dangerous trend. As long ago as 1991, the official British artist of the first Gulf war, John Keane, faced protests and legal threats from the Disney corporation for having painted a picture of the devastation of a Kuwait beach which included a Mickey Mouse doll. Another British artist, David Haslam, faced legal action from the owners of the copyright on Noddy, and the American artist Rick Rush was taken to court for painting a picture of Tiger Woods. Both the Canadian mounted police and the Los Angeles police department sought to copyright their own logos, as OJ Simpson attempted to copyright his own name. A mock photograph in an art exhibition of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed lookalikes cuddling a mixed-race baby was berated on the grounds of the infringement of copyright on her image. And Ofcom upheld long-haired, floppy-moustached 1970s athlete David Bedford’s complaint against 118 118 for using two long-haired, floppy-moustached runners to advertise its directory inquiry service.
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