No photography at London 2012 OlympicsThe London Olympics is going to be invisible. The world’s greatest games, designed to inspire millions of young people will not reach them. Why? Because virtually ANY form of sharing the games online is completely BANNED…! Yes, that’s right, if you have tickets to London 2012 there is a condition to which you have contracted which bans you from sharing almost any aspect of the games online.

“Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder 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 for commercial purposes.”

Here we are, with the Olympic Games taking place under web conditions which no other event of its size or nature has ever witnessed. At the last Olympics four years ago, social sharing of images and video was in its infancy. Yet in those four years it has become the number one way in which young people engage with events. So, the London Olympics could massively exploit that, it could actually create the most popular Olympic competition in history, with more engagement and more support than ever before. But what are the organisers doing? They are actively preventing the Olympics from being as successful as it might be.

The world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years as far as how people engage with events. Recent studies show that almost half of people aged under the age of 25 (the age group the Olympics is meant to be inspiring) use Twitter or Facebook DURING an event to extend their engagement and participation. Banning such individuals from using the very system they love is like stopping their participation. The London Olympics may as well be held behind closed doors.

Indeed, according to recent reports, the London Olympics has been trying to stop professional photographers from taking pictures of the venues. Under current laws the taking of pictures from a public place is perfectly legal and does not require prior permission, except in certain circumstances such as if the property you wish to photograph is owned by the Ministry of Defence. So why do the London Olympics organisers want to stop people taking pictures of the venues?

It all smacks of people living in the past. Why, for instance, are Google or Facebook so successful? Because WE do their publicity for them free of any charges. Whoops, there I go, I’ve given them publicity again…! Some of the most successful organisations on the web, like Amazon, work because most of their content and publicity is “user generated”. The social media world is awash with book recommendations, sharing of book images and so on. Technically, of course, those book cover images belong to the publishers. Technically, of course, the links and items shared belong to Amazon. Technically, of course, they benefit from the law being “bent”.

Yet, the London Olympics organisers want to live in the past where they are in complete control, where they “own” the rights and where no-one else can do anything unless given prior permission. The result is actually going to be a mass of negativity on social media about the London Olympics, rather than a swathe of fantastic, inspiring content.

It is a lesson which many businesses need to learn. In the modern, social media driven world, the more you try to control what other people do, the less your business succeeds. Businesses who understand that giving control to their users is actually beneficial are the ones that are succeeding online. Centralised, authoritarian, controlling companies are things of the past. And it seems that the London Olympics organisers are also dinosaurs who, like so many other business leaders, completely fail to understand the online world.

Here’s a clue from the London 2012 website:

To ensure we maintain both the emotional and commercial value of the brand, we need to carefully control its use and prevent its unauthorised exploitation.

Note the word “control”. And note that I have broken the rules by including the link above. The legal information on the London 2012 website explains that if you want to even include a link to their website you need to fill a form in and get permission – which might not be granted…! Even control-obsessed governments aren’t that bad…!

The London 2012 Olympics may want to inspire people, but they will fail in this desire unless they do a complete u-turn on their Internet policies. They have totally failed to understand the way people now wish to engage and participate in events. They are going to face mass negativity online – precisely what they are trying to avoid.

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