The IOC has made GIFs and Vines illegal at the Rio Olympics

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

When the London Olympics closed four years ago, Snapchat had only just launched, while Facebook Live and Vine had yet to make their bids for global domination.

With the Rio Olympics starting in Brazil tomorrow, the International Olympics Committee has demonstrated how tech savvy it is in the era of social media with its policy, the snappily titled “News access rules applicable for the broadcast of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, Rio de Janeiro, 5-21 August, 2016”.

The six-page document, released in May, says “These News Access Rules are provided for the exclusive purpose of fairly reporting on the Games during the Games by Non-RHBs. These NARs shall be in effect from the opening of the Olympic Villages, 24 July 2016, until the closing of the Olympic Villages, 24 August 2016”.

A non-RHB is a media organisation that doesn’t have broadcast rights.

Here’s an example of what non-rights holders can do in covering the Olympics:

Source: IOC media policy

But the bit that’s catching the attention of media organisations as the games are ready to begin is on page 3 under “IV. PROHIBITIONS AND LIMITATIONS FOR NON-RHBs”, item 2, addressing the internet and mobile platforms.

It bans the use of GIFs and Vines and any animated format for Olympic material. Here’s the relevant section (our emphasis in bold):

2. Internet and Mobile Platforms 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.

As the IOC says in section VII. Infringements and monitoring:

“The IOC Executive Board shall be the final authority with respect to the interpretation and implementation of these NARs”.

We’ve been warned.

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