Publishers run risk over 'Olympics'

<p>Publishers who link their books to the &quot;2012 Olympics&quot; or &quot;London 2012&quot; could find themselves breaking copyright laws, even if their book is a work of fiction.</p><p>Children&#39;s author Robert Ronsson has already been threatened with legal action by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) over the title of his fictional self-published novel, <em>Olympic Mind Games</em> (Pen Press).</p><p>Following two separate acts of Parliament, in 1995 and 2006, it is now illegal to use any protected Olympic words in &quot;product names&quot;&mdash;which includes book titles. </p><p>The Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995 (OSPA) protects the Olympic and Paralympic symbols, mottos and various words. A further act, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, prevents &quot;the creation of an unauthorised association between people, goods or services and London 2012&quot;.</p><p>Copyright specialist Lorna Brazell of Bird &amp; Bird described the level of protection given to the Games as &quot;draconian&quot; because of the breadth of the legislation: &quot;For instance, if Islington High School decided to hold an event and to call it their &#39;summer games&#39;, they could well find that they are acting illegally.&quot; The legislation prevents certain words from being combined, such as &quot;games&quot; with &quot;summer&quot;, &quot;London&quot; or &quot;gold&quot;. </p><p>LOCOG may be unsympathetic to publishers who ignore the legislation as it will want to commission official titles linked to the Games, Brazell said. Ronsson, who refused to back down over his book, said: &quot;I was very surprised because I did not think you could take a word like &#39;Olympic&#39; out of commission. Also, I thought that book titles were not subject to copyright.&quot;</p><p>The LOCOG website states that official sponsors must have &quot;an exclusive association to London 2012 and the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the UK&quot;. A spokesman said: &quot;We are the &lsquo;moral guardians&#39; of the International Olympic Committee [IOC] rings and are legally obliged by two acts of Parliament to protect words such as &lsquo;Olympic&#39;.&quot; But he added: &quot;We are not in the business of slapping writs on people.&quot; He advised publishers in doubt about upcoming titles to contact LOCOG&#39;s Brand Protection legal team.</p>