A Lesson in Careful Advertising During the Olympics!


The Olympics is supposed to be a time for the celebration of sporting achievements and national pride but is it being shadowed by over-zealous copyright legislation?  A local Weymouth Butcher, Dennis Spur, has been threatened by his local council to remove his patriotic signage which displays rings of sausages in the arrangement of Olympic rings.   One may wonder the legal ramifications of a refusal to do so.


The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 creates offences of unauthorised advertising, trading and ticket sales in certain circumstances surrounding the Olympics.  These have been made arrest-able offences by amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.


There are strict regulations on advertising covering commercial and non commercial advertising or announcement/notices of any kind.  The Police have been given powers to enter premises where they believe infringements on the regulations are taking place and powers to “remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article”.  Rather interestingly, infringing articles can include animals, although the Authorities are obliged to, “take care of the animal pending its return or disposal in accordance with this group of sections.” (Section 31A of theLondon Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006).


In relation to the offence of unauthorised advertising it is a defence that the infringement occurred without the person’s knowledge or that “it occurred despite taking all reasonable steps to prevent it from occurring or continuing”.  This implies that initially infringements will be dealt with by way of notification to correct the offending article.  Thereafter Police will presumably consider arrest.  The maximum penalty for this type of offence is a fine.


Ticket sales are also heavily regulated and whilst it is understandable that steps should be taken to prevent over-priced ticket exchanges, you’d think it would be possible to give a ticket to a friend or relative.  Unfortunately the answer to this question is no.  Tickets are non-transferable, if you do not wish to attend you can submit your tickets for resale and the Olympic body will attempt to resell your tickets for you at face value.  Your tickets will be void and thereafter would be reissued to the buyer (if there is one).  There is no guarantee that your tickets will be resold.


It is an offence to sell an Olympic ticket “in a public place or in the course of business” and “otherwise than in accordance with a written authorisation issued by the London Organising Committee”.  Again this is an offence which is fineable only however the maximum fine is £20,000.


With these new arrest-able offences at the time of the Olympics it is lucky that advice at the Police station is free!

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