Editor

Can FIFA sue over this picture?

In Media, Society on June 11, 2011 at 10:30 AM

While in Pretoria’s Mamelodi on May 8 last year, a few weeks before the start of the 2010 World Cup Tournament held in the country, I came across a beautiful art by a well-known Mamelodi artist. That the art had similar features as those of FIFA made me ask: Will the football federation sue, again, the artist for copyright?

This was one of the beautiful arts I had ever come across in a very long time and it may well have been the last I saw it, sort of.

With a camera in my hands I stood there at the corner where this art was located, wondering if I should take the picture and write about it on my blog (as I am now) or not. At first I thought people would think I was crazy or something, that they would think I am a journalist of some sort. But after some thinking, I decided to go home.

Before I left Pretoria for Rustenburg the following day, I took a few spans of the beautiful picture and thought to myself: “I’ll use it for whatever and however I see fit”. This, I thought at the time, would certainly including blogging about it as I am now. On Sunday the 9th of May, just after eleven in the morning before left Pretoria, when I took the pictures I felt pity for the artist that upon on seeing this art here on my blog, Fifa, a very jealous and protective groupie, may want to sue the artist as they had done in the past.

In May 2009 Financial Mail reported that Fifa had successfully prosecuted a small Pretoria tavern for using for using “World Cup 2010” on its signs. At the time of the report several other cases were under way. In protecting its SA-based World Cup and its official sponsors, according to an FM report, Fifa had trademarked almost every conceivable version of the event’s name.

It were only officially sanctioned sponsors that were allowed to use the following in their advertising and marketing: World Cup 2010, South Africa 2010, SA World Cup 2010, SA 2010, ZA 2010, 2010 South Africa, Football World Cup, soccer World Cup, Fifa World Cup, World Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa, 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Fifa could also add other variations as it saw fit, Financial Mail reported at the time. Given this and as has been reported elsewhere I immediately felt sorry for the poor and small business (whoever) that soon s/he will be out of business once Fifa sees this picture.

In march last year Marketing web reported that Kulula airline had been made to stop its Unofficial National Carrier of the ‘You-Know-What’ advert which had appeared on Sunday Times newspaper (28 February 2010). According to the report, FIFA had complained that the advert had breached its ambush marketing laws surrounding the ‘You-Know-What’.

Fifa reportedly instructed Kulula not to use footballs or the words ‘South Africa’ or the South African flag in its advertising. It said Kulula was not the official national carrier of the ‘you-know-what’ and that trademark in the advertisement constituted the act of ambush marketing before its eyes, if it had any.

If the report is anything to go by, Fifa was pushing it. Who owns South Africa anyway? Did they even know that “South Africa” is just the location of the country which was later made its formal name?

Given that, how on earth can they own “South Africa” as their trademark? How about they own the whole world then?

One would have to agree with Kulula when it said the stupid request by Fifa was quite “ludicrous”.

And it is not only the use of “World Cup 2010, South Africa 2010, SA World Cup 2010, SA 2010, ZA 2010, 2010 South Africa, Football World Cup, soccer World Cup, Fifa World Cup, World Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa, 2010 Fifa World Cup” that Fifa wants control Of. It apparently also wanted control how media should report on the tournament, just less than 30 days away at the time. That’s sick.

To a great extent one would have to agree with Ivo Vegter, The Daily Maverick columnist when he said “The Fifa monopolists and their squads of single-minded lawyering fascists are exploitingSouth Africa for their own gain, and at the expense ofSouth Africa’s small businesses, entrepreneurs and poor millions”.

Vegter said “the only benefit those exploited citizens will gain, is to have unreconstructed fascists on both sides of the racial divide showcased to the world”. And he may be right. And maybe, just maybe, Fifa needs a little boycott as Vegter suggested. But as for whether that will really work remains to be seen.

Vegter even thought Fifa should be boycotted because it had “hijacked our government by getting it to enact special laws that unfairly prejudice South African citizens and their businesses”.

I wondered, looking at the said picture, if the poor 2010 World Cup Internet Café will live up to its dreams or its dreams will be long shattered before it even started operating. But it has survived to date, at least, if it never closed down for whatever reason(s).

In his brilliantly written article, Vegter regrets the “high-handed way in which FIFA has hijacked our government”. He said it was worrying that FIFA had obtained “special privileges not available even to our own citizens” and that most of us South Africans were “excluded by law from taking advantage of the event”.

Just because Fifa had sued for similar cases before, should/can/will it sue the poor business man over this picture too?

This is an edited article I first published on 13 MAY 2010 in a blog I owned but no longer own. 

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  1. This is certainly a great write-up. Thank you so much for bothering to detail this all out for all of us. It is a great help!

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