Take a look at this clip from CTV News announcing our medal haul for today. Notice anything odd about it? The athletes look a bit stationary, don’t they?
This isn’t because of technical problems, or because a video editor got lazy, or even NBC’s controversial time-shifting of “live” broadcasts. It’s because of draconian rules about rebroadcasting of video from Olympic events.
Broadcasters pay a truckload of money in order to get rights to live Olympic events. That’s not so unusual. All the major sports leagues work the same way. The difference is that after the event is complete, other networks can rebroadcast clips from them in their news reports. It’s a gentleman’s agreement, but more importantly it’s the law. Fair use rules for copyright (“fair dealing” in Canada) allow broadcasters to show short clips from events as part of news reports about them.
But for the Olympics, that’s not the case. Even CBC, which has the rights to the Olympics, has to strip Olympic video from its National podcast because the latter is distributed out of the country.
The networks, including the U.S. ones like ABC and CBS, have tucked their tails between their legs and accepted these draconian rules. Instead, they awkwardly fudge their reports with still photos, file footage of practices or earlier events, or post-event press conferences.
It’s ridiculous. And someone needs to make it stop.