Home > Copyright Law, Intellectual Property Law, Merchandising Rights, Uncategorized > To The Olympic Committee: Why Not A “Public Domain” Mascot?

To The Olympic Committee: Why Not A “Public Domain” Mascot?

February 28, 2011

I tweeted this morning about the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympics just chose a polar bear as one of its three mascots.  No sooner did it do so than there was a copyright challenge.  The creator of an earlier mascot from the 1980 Olympics claimed his “teddy bear” has been infringed.

My tweet met with a reply – and very trenchant complaint.  Filemot tweeted back: “@bassesq if it is not fair use to show us the competing mascots its a really boring story.”

Wishing to oblige and thinking it should be fair use to illustrate my news flash by showing a side-by-side comparison of the two mascots, I searched for and found the images on Yahoo.  You can see them here.  http://urly.it/126r

Finding both images uninspiring,  however, I offer the following images in their place.   While they are not the images in contention, they have two advantages over those that are.  They are unquestionably cute and  can be reproduced in many circumstances without infringing copyright.  The first image is in the public domain.  The second, subject to a GNU or Creative Commons license.


It is unlikely, alas, that the Olympic Committee will ever adopt a “public domain” polar bear or Creative Commons “teddy.”   Why?  Because it makes considerable merchandising revenue  from licensing its mascots’ images.

Merchandising aside, however, perhaps we have an idea here:  How about it, Olympic Committee?  How about adding a 3-minute copyright challenge to the sports already featured at the Games?