YouTube creators broadcast from London Olympics -- with limits
Aug 10, 2012 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When the International Olympic Committee decided to provide live coverage of the London 2012 Summer Games to remote places around the world that have never before watched the competition, it turned to Google Inc.'s online video giant, YouTube.
YouTube is streaming some 2,200 hours worth of Olympic contests to parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa -- an effort that spans 64 territories, and includes deploying a van with 12 screens to show live coverage of the Games in rural villages in India.
But the IOC has restrictions concerning Internet distribution of the Olympic Games in the United States, where NBCUniversal paid $1.18 billion for the rights to show the competition on television and online -- and for which NBC has sold a record $1.03 billion worth of advertising.
So when YouTube sent 50 content creators to Britain to cover the Games for the online site's dedicated "Creators Invade London 2012," those videographers had to be careful not to run afoul of the IOC.
YouTube creator Hannah Hart posted her first satiric video about preparations for the big Games even before the opening ceremony.
Hart's "Average People Olympix" -- in which she readies for the Games by running, doing sit-ups, push-ups and other calisthenics, only to collapse on a couch in front of the TV and swig a beer -- came with one caveat:
"I can't use the word 'Olympics' in the title without the IOC suing me," Hart wrote in comments describing the video.
The IOC's rules for television broadcasters and radio and the digital media appear designed to preserve the status quo. Programs that use highlights from the Olympics "shall not be positioned or promoted as Olympic or London 2012 programs," according to eight pages of guidelines provided by the IOC.
Only those who pay for the rights are permitted to film within Olympic venues -- including the Olympic Village, the competition sites and practice facilities. (The lone exception is for news conferences.) Other rules prohibit placing ads, promotions or any other message over Olympic footage, or before or after the segments, "in such a manner as to imply an association" with a product or service. (Such endorsements come with a price tag.)
"Broadcast rights are the major source of funding for the IOC, the Olympic Games, and ultimately sport and the athletes around the world -- and without this funding the Olympic Games would simply not happen," wrote IOC spokesman Benjamin Seeley in an email interview. "Any unauthorized uploading of Olympic Games footage to public platforms is not permitted."
The Olympic governing body warned it is monitoring compliance with its news access rules, and reserves the right to revoke access permits.
"I had assumed that since the Olympics were about unity they would have a different perspective," wrote Hart in an email interview. "But in the end they are trying to run a business. But, to be fair, so am I."
Tyler Toney, of the founding members of "Dude Perfect," a troupe that specializes in trick basketball shots, found himself staging a sliding competition at the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport terminal, and a dodgeball competition with other YouTubers in London.
One of Dude Perfect's most popular videos, "Olympic Trick Shots," featured improbable dunks, performed by members of the U.S. Olympic team like Sean Melton, who vaulted into the air and sank a basket while in mid-flight. It was filmed in advance of the London competition, at the U.S. training facility in Colorado Springs, Toney said.
"Obviously, NBC has the rights to the Olympic Games. We're not pretending like we're representing the official Olympic events," said Toney. "Under no means do we make any claims that we're officially representing the Olympic Games or anything that NBC has rights to."
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