“If you have nothing nice to say…”: London 2012 restricts “mean” links to its website

Over the past few weeks we have kept you posted on some of the measures taken by London Games organisers to restrict the use of social media and to protect the rights of its official sponsors (see here and here). In its latest move, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is trying to restrict the way in which users can link to its website and, in particular, attempting to prevent criticism of LOCOG.

As reported by Padraig Reidy in the free speech blog, the LOCOG website’s Terms of Use contain the following:

5. Linking policy

a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading,

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derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.

While aspects of the term are quite standard (eg, the prohibition against creating an unauthorised association with brand London 2012), what has bloggers and commentators in a bit of a spin is the restriction on links which portray LOCOG or its associates in a “derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner”.

Although it is not unusual for an organisation to try to prevent online criticism (think of the numerous cases around “gripe sites” in the form of www.[Company]sucks.com) bloggers feel that this is taking it to a new level.

But LOCOG’s attempt to censor what users say about it and its associates has backfired in a most spectacular way. The level of vitriol that this policy has spawned amongst bloggers and tweeters is quite remarkable. Who knew there were so many swear words with which to describe and link to LOCOG’s website? On the whole, these comments are too rude to repeat, but the tweet below gives some idea of the feelings towards LOCOG:

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And, if you are wondering how LOCOG can enforce such a term, the Terms of Use state that: “BY USING THE SITE, YOU INDICATE YOUR AGREEMENT TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY THESE TERMS OF USE”. We assume that the caps are just in case you’re a little long sighted, and might otherwise miss it.

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