Olympics

Olympic Committee bans GIFs; social media weeps

This Aug. 5, 2012, file photo shows U.S. silver medal gymnast McKayla Maroney during the podium ceremony for the artistic gymnastics women’s vault finals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Her peeved expression on the medal stand after slipping on her second vault, a miscue that cost her the gold, became an Internet sensation.
This Aug. 5, 2012, file photo shows U.S. silver medal gymnast McKayla Maroney during the podium ceremony for the artistic gymnastics women’s vault finals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Her peeved expression on the medal stand after slipping on her second vault, a miscue that cost her the gold, became an Internet sensation. AP

Who could forget Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt fist-bumping a volunteer at the Olympics before his race in 2012?

Usain Bolt fist-bumps volunteer
make animated gifs like this at MakeaGif

What about American gymnast McKayla Maroney’s sour face when she received a silver medal the same year?

The Olympics are rife with GIFable material like the ones above. GIFs are short, silent videos to show a quick moment, and are a beloved medium for the internet and social media. But the International Olympic Committee is banning them this year in Rio de Janeiro.

Journalists covering the Olympics are always given packets with rules on copyright. This year, those rules extend to GIFs.

“Olympic Material must not be broadcast on interactive services” because it would “allow the viewer to make a viewing choice within a channel and thereby view Olympic Material at times and programs other than when broadcast as part of a News Program,” the rules state. “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.”

In other words, the IOC doesn’t want internet views taking away from views to broadcast services, where they get advertising revenue.

The internet was predictably distressed at the news.

However, the Committee’s rules are directed at news organizations and journalists, who they can ‘punish’ by withdrawing credentials for the Olympics. The Committee has not said if it would pursue action against the average person who chooses to take short Olympic moments and make them immortal.

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