The Olympics Committee has always been restrictive in who can use what footage and when, but a couple of new rules introduced for the 2016 games take things even further. The official social media guidelines now prohibit streaming apps, Vines and even the lowly GIF.
Part of the new restriction appears in the official broadcast rules (PDF), under “Internet and Mobile Platforms.”
…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.
“Olympic Material” is defined as pretty much any images of the games, whatever the source.
Then, in the FAQ for the social and digital media guidelines (PDF):
Broadcasting images via live-streaming applications (e.g. Periscope, Meerkat) is prohibited inside Olympic venues.
The versions of these documents updated for the 2014 games in Sochi don’t have any comparable language, or at least nothing this specific. A possible exception is the “Photographer’s Undertaking,” which states:
The dissemination of moving images or sound captured in an Olympic venue, through any media, including display on the Internet, Mobile Platform and other interactive media or electronic medium, is strictly prohibited.
But that document isn’t dated, so it’s hard to say when the IOC might have made that language more inclusive.
In general, the rule boils down to: Video taken in the Village or at a venue is to be taken by accredited media and used within the broadcast rules, or else kept for personal purposes only. That outlawed streaming in effect, but the new rules make it more clear. GIFs weren’t mentioned, let alone GIFVs, GFYs or any other new custom looping image format.
Of course, any attempt to crack down on the inevitable meme-making that accompanies such a major media event is doomed to hilarious failure.
Hell, even the pros are likely to get tut-tutted by the IOC for not following every rule to the letter. Just try making sure your broadcast, front page, segment, vlog or whatever meets all the restrictions set out here.