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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has backed away from a DMCA take-down request to remove a YouTube video of a Tibetan protest at the Chinese consulate in New York.

The video in question (see below) was clearly not an example of copyright infringement. YouTube and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) both pushed back against the IOC, which then withdrew their complaint. As the EFF notes, however, the inaccurate title of the video was “Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony,” so in all likelihood, the IOC was filing DMCA notices for Olympics content, which has been springing up on YouTube faster than they can take it down.

Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of the Fair Use Project, was impressed that YouTube went beyond the call of duty in pushing back at the IOC. With the sheer volume of DMCA requests that YouTube must be fielding with the Olympics, taking the time to double-check the content is certainly impressive. At the same time, however, it highlights how much work YouTube has to do in terms of policing copyrighted content. The number of legal notices they have to respond to consume time and resources that might be put to better use.



Nagano, Japan, April 26 – Crowds of Chinese students waving red flags and signs such as “One World, One Dream, One China” scuffled with pro-Tibet protesters in the latest leg of the Olympic torch relay in Japan on Saturday.

Commenting on the turmoil that has bedevilled the global relay, International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge urged the West to stop hectoring China over human rights.

“You don’t obtain anything in China with a loud voice,” Rogge told Saturday’s Financial Times. “That is the big mistake of people in the West wanting to add their views”.

“To keep face [in Asia] is of paramount importance. All the Chinese specialists will tell you that only one thing works — respectful, quiet but firm discussion,” Rogge added.

The global torch relay ahead of the Beijing Games in August has prompted protests against China’s human rights record, including in Tibet, as well as patriotic rallies by Chinese who criticise the West for vilifying Beijing.

As rain fell in Nagano, chants of “Go China” mixed with “Free Tibet” from the rival groups, who at times clashed despite the tight security in the central city, host to the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Four Chinese supporters were injured and three men were arrested, fire officials and police said, including one man who was wrestled to the ground after running into the relay path holding a Tibetan flag and shouting “Free Tibet”.

More than 3 000 police were mobilised for the relay, which comes a day after Chinese state media said Beijing would hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist leader of Tibet, whom it blames for recent unrest.

Japan was keen to avoid the chaotic scenes that marred some of the relay venues elsewhere ahead of next month’s visit by President Hu Jintao, the first to Japan by a Chinese president in a decade.

“I ran hoping for the Beijing Olympics to be successful and peaceful,” said Japanese Olympic gold medallist marathon runner Mizuki Noguchi, after lighting the flame on the podium at the end of the relay.

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[Sri Lanka Daily Mirror]

BEIJING: China bluntly told the world Olympics chief Thursday to keep out of politics, in a tart exchange on human rights following days of protests that have shadowed the Olympic torch around the world.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the Games were in “crisis” following the demonstrations, and urged China to respect its pledge to improve its rights record before the event begins in August.

China fired back that Rogge should keep politics out of the Olympics, which Beijing hoped would showcase its much-touted “peaceful rise” to power — but which have instead become a public relations nightmare.

Separately, China’s Ministry of Public Security said it had cracked a terrorist group in its Muslim-dominated northwest that was plotting to kidnap foreign journalists, tourists and athletes during the Olympics.

A taciturn Rogge, in a visit to the host country, admitted he was “saddened” that these Olympics, dogged by protests over Tibet and calls for a boycott, were not simply a global celebration of sport.

It was “not the joyous party that we had wished it to be,” Rogge said in Beijing, nevertheless insisting that the torch relay — disrupted by protests in Greece, London, Paris and San Francisco — would go on.

He also told a news conference that China — under fire over a crackdown in Tibet and a host of other issues — had promised that winning the right to host the Games would lead to an improvement in human rights.

“We definitely ask China to respect this moral engagement,” he added.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters that Rogge’s view of a “crisis” might have been exaggerated, and made it clear China would not engage in a discussion on its human rights performance.

“I believe IOC officials support the Beijing Olympics and adherence to the Olympic charter of not bringing in any irrelevant political factors,” she said.

“I hope IOC officials continue to adhere to principles of the Olympic charter.”

When asked later Thursday whether tension had surfaced between Rogge and the Chinese authorities, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said: “No, not at all.”

”Relations are very good,” she said.

Attention to China’s rights record intensified last month when protests in Tibet against Chinese rule of the region erupted into violence and spread to other areas of the country.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say more than 150 people were killed in the ensuing crackdown by China.

Beijing insists its security forces have killed no one while trying to quell the protests, but that Tibetan “rioters” killed 20 people.

However China sealed off the areas to foreign reporters and other independent monitors, and global rights groups have said they fear those detained could face torture.

Beijing has repeatedly blamed the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, for the unrest — and insists calls for a boycott should be ignored.

The Dalai Lama, on a visit to Japan, said China had the right to host the Games but blamed Beijing for the unrest, saying there was no freedom of speech in his homeland.

“They really deserve” the Olympics, he said. “In spite of the unfortunate events in Tibet, my position has not changed.”

Pro-Tibet groups, human rights activists and other campaigners have shadowed the flame from the moment it was lit in Greece on March 24, starting its 20-country, 137,000-kilometre (85,000-mile) journey across the globe.

Protesters severely disrupted the torch relay this week in London and Paris, where officials had to extinguish the flame several times.

There was no major trouble in San Francisco after organisers shortened the course for the only US leg and switched the route, disappointing thousands who hoped to see the flame before its next stop in Buenos Aires.

“The Olympic torch relay will continue in all sorts of weathers to spread the Olympic spirit …,” Jiang, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, told Xinhua news agency.

Some activists have said they fear that, rather than improving the situation, China is using the Games to justify cracking down even harder on critics at home.

China’s security chiefs said Thursday that they had broken two terrorist groups in its heavily Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, where there have lately also been reports of protests against the government.


Athletes who display Tibetan flags at Olympic venues — including in their own rooms — could be expelled from this summer’s Games in Beijing under anti-propaganda rules.

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that competitors were free to express their political views but faced sanctions if they indulged in propaganda.

He accompanied those comments with an admission that the Games were in “crisis” after pro-Tibet protests engulfed the Olympic torch relay.

Mr Rogge’s call for Beijing to abide by its promise to address human rights was given short shrift by Beijing, which bluntly told him to keep politics out of the Games.

The question of what will constitute propaganda when the Games are on in August and what will be considered opinion under IOC rules is one vexing many in the Olympic movement. The Olympic Charter bans any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in any Olympic venue or area.

This includes the opening and closing ceremonies, the medal podiums and the Athletes’ Village.

Addressing concerns about free speech, Mr Rogge described the scenario of a Spanish athlete doing a lap of honour in the Olympic stadium with Spain’s national flag and his provincial flag as “perfectly legitimate”.

He said: “We have had many examples of mixed flags where the athlete is proud of that. Is there a will to demonstrate propaganda or is it a desire to demonstrate joy in his victory?”

The IOC did not specify whether a Chinese athlete or a foreign competitor of Tibetan origin flying the Tibetan flag would be regarded as patriotic or propagandist. A spokeswoman said that there had been no discussion internally or with the Chinese authorities about use of the Tibetan national flag. Asked whether athletes would be allowed to hang the flag in their rooms, she said: “The village is an Olympic venue so it falls under the same rules and regulations of any venue which would mean that anything in there would be judged on whether it was a provocative propaganda initiative.”

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BEIJING – Crisis. Disarray. Sadness. Four months before the opening of what was supposed to be the grandest Olympics in history, the head of the International Olympic Committee is using words that convey anything but a sense of joyous enthusiasm.

The protest-marred Olympic torch relay and international criticism of China’s policies on Tibet, Darfur and human rights have turned the Beijing Games into one of the most politically charged in recent history and presented the IOC with one of its toughest tests since the boycott era of the 1970s and ’80s.

“It is a crisis, there is no doubt about that,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said Thursday. “But the IOC has weathered many bigger storms.”

At the same time, Rogge called on China to respect its “moral engagement” to improve human rights and to fulfill promises of greater media freedom. He also reaffirmed the right of free speech for athletes at the Beijing Games.

Rogge spoke in Beijing just hours after the completion of the torch relay in San Francisco, where the route was shortened and the flame diverted to prevent disruptions by massive crowds of anti-China protesters.

Rogge’s use of the word “crisis” to describe the torch relay and the Beijing buildup came as a surprise. The Belgian orthopedic surgeon’s comments usually are measured and low-key.

He cited previous crises — the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the boycotts of the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Games.

“The history of the Olympic Games is fraught by a lot of challenges,” Rogge said. “This is a challenge but you cannot compare to what we had in the past.”

British IOC member Craig Reedie believes the worst is over.

“I hope that we are through it now,” he said. “I think the furor that has affected the torch in London, Paris and to some extent in San Francisco will now die down. … But it is fair to say that this kind of political protest is a new experience for the IOC and we have all found it extremely uncomfortable.”

After the chaos caused by pro-Tibet demonstrators during torch relays in London and Paris, IOC officials were relieved the North American leg passed without any injuries.

“Fortunately, the situation was better in San Francisco,” Rogge said. “It was, however, not the joyous party that we had wished it to be.

“Athletes in many countries are in disarray and we need to reassure them,” he added. “Our major responsibility is to offer them the games they deserve. … We have 120 days to achieve this.”

Earlier in the week, IOC officials had contemplated possibly cutting short the international leg of the relay, but Rogge said Thursday that was not an option.

“This scenario is definitely not on the agenda,” he said. “We are studying together with (Beijing organizers) to improve the torch relay, but there is no scenario of either interrupting or bringing (the torch) back directly to Beijing.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that local officials still might not shorten existing routes if security demands it.

Already, the head of the committee organizing the torch run in Indonesia said the route will be significantly shortened because of Chinese concerns it might attract pro-Tibet protests.

The relay, scheduled for April 22, was originally planned to follow a 10-mile course in Jakarta, but now it will only travel in the vicinity of the city’s main sports stadium, said Sumohadi Marsis, the head of the organizing committee.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang said officials many tweak the torch relay route to ensure order when the flame arrives April 30. He said 3,000 police will be deployed.

Hong Kong newspapers reported Wednesday that officials may shorten the route and are considering transporting the torch to its next stop, the nearby gambling enclave of Macau, by plane instead of by boat to avoid protests at sea.

“We will constantly re-examine and improve the route so that the torch relay is smooth, safe, orderly and dignified,” Tang said.

The flame will be carried through Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday, with a dozen other countries still to come. The relay also is expected to face demonstrations in New Delhi, India, which has a substantial Tibetan population, and possibly elsewhere on its 21-stop tour before arriving in mainland China on May 4. The Olympics begin Aug. 8.

Rogge said he had assurances from Beijing organizers that all measures were being taken to ensure the torch’s “safe passage.”

The future of international torch relays is in serious doubt, however. Rogge said “all options are open” for future games, including restricting the relays to the territory of the host country, a policy favored by a large number of IOC members. Athens, in 2004, was the first host city to organize a global relay.

Rogge said the issue would be reviewed later in the year — “not in the heat of this week’s events.”

Rogge, who has come under pressure from critics to speak out on China, was asked whether he had second thoughts about awarding the games to Beijing seven years ago.

“I’ve said that it is very easy with hindsight to criticize the decision,” he said. “It’s easy to say now that this was not a wise and a sound decision.”

But Rogge insisted Beijing had “clearly the best bid” and offered the strong pull of taking the Olympics to a country with one-fifth of the world’s population.

“That was the reasoning for awarding the bid to Beijing.”

When Beijing was seeking the games, Rogge noted, Chinese officials said the Olympics would help advance social change, including human rights. He called that a “moral engagement” and stressed there was no “contractual promise whatsoever” on human rights in the official host city contract.

“I would definitely ask China to respect this moral engagement,” Rogge said, in one of his most pointed comments on the subject.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman responded that IOC officials support adhering to the Olympic Charter and “not bringing any irrelevant political factors into the Beijing Olympics.”

“I hope the IOC officials will continue to adhere to the principles set by the Olympic charter,” Jiang Yu said.

Rogge reported having “very frank and open discussions” with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on a range of Olympic issues Wednesday. He declined to elaborate.

Rogge insisted that “a number of important points have been met” on human rights, including a new Chinese law enacted in 2007 that removed many restrictions on foreign journalists. But he said the law had not been fully implemented and he was urging Chinese officials to do so “as soon as possible.”

Rogge refused to be drawn on the prospect of top world leaders snubbing the Beijing opening ceremony. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be attending the opening, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering staying away. U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have called on President Bush to boycott the ceremony.

“Politicians have to make their decisions themselves,” Rogge said. “The IOC will not intervene in this matter.”

Rogge sought to reassure athletes that they are free to express their political opinions — as long as they do so away from official Olympic venues in Beijing.

Rogge said free expression has been enshrined in the Olympic Charter for more than 40 years as a “basic human right.” However, the charter also forbids any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in any Olympic sites or venues.

“I’m very clear on the fact that athletes have ample opportunities to express themselves without hindrance, but just by respecting the sacred environment of the Olympic village, the Olympic venues the podium and so forth,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama said he is willing to support the Beijing Olympics, but China cannot suppress protests in Tibet with violence or tell those calling for more freedom in his homeland “to shut up.”

During a stopover in Japan on his way to the United States, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader strongly denied Chinese allegations he and his followers have been fomenting unrest before the Olympics. He said he has supported China’s hosting the Olympics from the start.

“Right from the beginning, we supported the Olympic Games,” he told reporters in Japan. “I really feel very sad the government demonizes me. I am just a human; I am not a demon.”

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since a failed 1959 uprising in Tibet, said he would even like to attend the opening ceremony if the Tibetan crisis is resolved. “If things improve and the Chinese government starts to see things realistically, I personally want to enjoy the big ceremony,” he said.


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