The world is gearing up to watch the Rio Olympics — just don’t expect to see it via the medium of animated GIF.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has forbidden media organisations from turning Olympic material into GIFs or other short formats.
“The use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited,” the sporting event’s broadcasting rules sternly warn. (We first saw the news over on TechCrunch.)
This means news outlets won’t be allowed to showcase snapshots of the events — a GIF of winning tumble in the gymnastics, or a Vine video of a sprinter crossing the finish line.
That said, it’s highly dubious that the IOC would be able to police this more broadly. There will doubtless be countless GIFs, Vines, videos and more made by amateur Olympics fans. It could try and scrub them from the internet with copyright takedown requests — but the sheer volume of it will be overwhelming.
What this ban means in practice, then, is that if you want to watch the Olympics via GIFs you’ll just have to venture out from mainstream news sources.
The IOC’s social media guidelines also make clear that it won’t tolerate any livestreaming of the various sporting events. “Broadcasting images via live-streaming applications (e.g. Periscope, Meerkat) is prohibited inside Olympic venues,” it says.
Here’s the relevant section of the rules on GIFs, emphasis ours:
“Notwithstanding any other applicable limitation included in these NARs, Olympic Material must not be broadcast on interactive services such as “news active” or “sports active” or any other related Video on Demand services, which would allow the viewer to make a viewing choice within a channel and to thereby view Olympic Material at times and programs other than when broadcast as part of a News Program as set out in Clause 1 above. Additionally, the use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited.”