Thursday, April 26, 2012

More information on the Olympians versus Samsung lawsuit

Background: 18-Olympians are suing Samung for including their images, likenesses, identity, etc, etc, within a Facebook app without their permission. Samsung is an official U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) sponsor which led me to believe that the USOC may have licensed these athletes to Samsung without their permission.

It appears by the quote below that Samsung most likely had the U.S. Olympic committee's permission. I acknowledge that I may be reading more into the quote but Sumsung seemingly references a procedure via the USOC. The article does include more information about the Facebook app as well.

 From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Samsung has followed the U.S. Olympic Committee’s procedure to communicate with athletes, who had the opportunity express their opinions and make a decision on whether to participate, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in a statement today.


This reference from First Post points to a California Civil Code that suggests the athletes may have legal standing despite any agreement that was signed with the USOC.

From First Post:
The athletes claim the app violates a section of the California Civil Code which makes it unlawful to use without consent another's name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness for commercial purposes.

Now this gem from The Economic Times - Samsung will remove the athletes from the app but stated that they are "disappointed" by the lawsuit. I call this a gem for their measured tone and the fact that they may have been assured that everything was all right since the athletes never responded to Samsung before the app was launched

From The Economic Times:
"We have honored the requests of the athletes who have filed suit to remove their names, as we offered to do months ago, and of course we will remove any athletes that do not wish to be listed," Sandusky said in a statement Thursday.

A Samsung spokesperson said the company was "disappointed" by the lawsuit.

This is my question and it is not a rhetorical question either: Does the USOC or USA Swimming force athletes to surrender their likeness and such so it can be commoditize and licensed out to the highest bidder? If so, are these athletes forced to sign or they can't swim or receive a stipend?


Anonymous said...

Interesting article.

I'm glad the athletes are fighting back.

I wonder who USA Swimming will side with - hmmmm!

Tony Austin said...

The idea of bundling Olympic athletes into tranches and then licensing them out without a royalty paid or an official sign-off model release reeks of "trafficking" if you ask me.

Even a talent agency is more forthright.

Anonymous said...

Tony - you're like a fly on my wall.

Licensing, royalities, releases, trafficking. At this moment a "casting director" (my kids met on a pool deck) is promising my young adult children the world. Google searches produce basically nothing, contracts that leave one with more questions than answers and look like a third grader filled them out.

The one thing USA Swimming has taught my kids and myself is that you shouldn't make phone calls to try and find out if the person is legitimate because it might ruin a good thing.

Tony Austin said...

Thank you i feel flattered.

Here is a link to a post I made regarding a contract that the Australian swimmers have to sign if they wanted to swim in the Pan Pacs.
The post has a download link and it covers fairly well how much of your soul you have to sell if you want to swim.

Anonymous said...

I finally contacted Sony Entertainment. I expressed my concern about checking on a "casting director" because the last time I checked out conflicting information my daughter got kicked off of her swim team and I didn't want to ruin a good opportunity if this casting director was legitimate.

(She was offering Sony internships to my daughter and her friends with most paying $18hr-$34hr. She gave my son a $30,000 contract for a Porsche commercial and a year lease on a Porsche(he would need to be available all hours, day or night for a week)(didn't sign). She said that Sony already did a background check on my daughter. Her PA offered my daughter $100 to drive an hour away and pick up two of his friends - she refused). Lastly, this "casting director" wanted my daughter and her friends to do telephone interviews with her boss instead of going to the Sony studios.

The woman at Sony assured me that I could give her names and there would be no problems.

It turned out that the Sony Manager in charge of the intern program had never heard of any of the names I provided. Sony did not do a background check on my daughter. Sony's summer internships were already given out.

The advice was to get as far away from these people as possible.

A couple of days later, on the college pool deck, this "casting director" told my daughter and her friends that my daughter ruined the internship opportunity for everyone. (She was upset that my daughter told her friends what we learned from Sony).

Now this woman is trying to befriend my daughter again - what the hell does she want?

I'm grateful that Sony was willing to provide the information. I would have thought a city agency would have been no problem.

(I had contacted a city agency to check on conflicting information I received on a substitute swim coach. The team Board of Directors said that I didn't have the right to make a phone call and terminated my daughters swim membership.)

Tony Austin said...

That's a scary story.

Anonymous said...

Things were just weird. This woman gave my son a $20,000 contract. I told him it looked fishy and to ask specific questions. Then he came home with the new $30,000 contract and was suppose to meet her at 10pm to sign it. Again, I told him to ask questions so he had me go with him - a surprise to her.

She seemed nice and friendly and I couldn't tell if she was legit or not. The new game plan was for my kids to buddy up and not be alone with her. We figured that if she were legit, human resources would be involved at some point because of the paid internships.

She promised my kids i-pads, Disneyland annual passes, full set of snowboard gear - never received it - for whatever reason she was stringing them along.

She had 5 students give her resumes for the summer intern jobs. We have no idea what her game is.

Tony Austin said...

This is de facto fraud, call the authorities and hold onto your kids really tight. WOW!