@ Now: be careful in New Zealand free speech is no more, don’t mention the World Cup
August 14, 2010
Next year New Zealand will be hosting the Rugby World Cup, these days there is a world cup for everything under the sun, but it appears that for business hoping to win over any rugby fans better be careful with what words they use to promote their event or promotion. New Zealand has a little-known of law that restricts using the words ‘rugby’, ‘world’ and ‘cup’ to promote fundraisers, promotions and special events that are not authorised by the Rugby World Cup committee and each breach could cost up to $150,000.
The bill that outlaws this is The Major Events Management Act 2007, (MEMA) and it was passed basically to give the Rugby World Cup unfettered control of the key words associated with the event. We are told that in all seriousness that common sense will be used when considering the act, pity common sense could not prevail prior to the passing of this blatant removal of New Zealanders rights.
The major problem with laws like this is that the World Cup of what ever sport or activity is a celebration of the event and that community support outside of the official sponsors is crucial for success this tends to amputate that type of support. I would ask what harm can the local school in Edendale near Eden Park using signage using the words “Rugby World Cup” to promote a sausage sizzle do.
Will local car rental operator suddenly steal the cups thunder if they are allowed to use the words that describe an event that is happening in their locality? Will travel agencies be able to promote the Rugby World Cup because if they dare use the actual words describing the event then they most probably will the fall foul of the law?
Again the organizers say they are looking only for malicious breaches, and that they are not going to be overly heavy-handed. They assure us “We’ll use common sense”.
Hard to use common sense in this when the whole concept is so ludicrous, that the mere act of describing an actual event in your promotion is illegal. Worse still this act not only applies to this event but may others deemed to need protection from profiteering, god help the community for getting behind a local event. It is said the act is there to stop other companies coming in and pretending to be associated or piggybacking, and that might seem fine but the method and application is all wrong.
So what can New Zealanders do? I would suggest just ignore the whole event, if you are a business why waste your time courting fans of an event that obviously neither the organisers want or by their actions indicate they need. The community guarantees the success of this event so if the organizers don’t want your help why give it. Another option might be to use other alternative descriptive words such as “Global Football Goblet”, people are not nearly as stupid as the politicians or organizers must think they are and will get the link. Finally business could put their support behind inclusive community events that would welcome their involvement rather than greedy international sporting codes that think it fine to corrupt the English language for their own gain.
What do you think? Is the corruption of generic words as trademarks going too far? Will you be putting your support behind the “Global Football Goblet”.