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The Olympics committee just said we can’t make GIFs of the games

U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses with her silver medal on the podium of the women's vault final of the artistic gymnastics event of the London Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 at the 02 North Greenwich Arena in London.U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses with her silver medal on the podium of the women’s vault final of the artistic gymnastics event of the London Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 at the 02 North Greenwich Arena in London.

Image: THOMAS COEX/AFP/GettyImages

It only took McKayla Maroney a few seconds to generate one of the most memorable Olympic highlights of all time.

Her vault makes for one beautiful GIF. But don’t expect to see many of those during the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee has issued its rules for news agencies covering the upcoming Summer games, and they’re calling out all GIF makers. 

The rules state that “Olympic Material must not be broadcast on interactive services” because doing so could “allow the viewer to make a viewing choice within a channel and thereby view Olympic Material at times and programs other than when broadcast as part of a News Program…”

In other words, if a news outlet show you footage from the Olympics, that could mean you won’t watch it from the rights holder, who for U.S. residents is NBC.

That rule extends to Gifs.

“Additionally, the use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited,” the rules state.

News agencies that shirk the rule could find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit. 

The internet is understandably upset about this development.

The creation and distribution of GIFs of major events that include media rights owners has become a bigger issue recently, particularly due to the popularity of the format on social media. 

In October 2015, Twitter suspended a Deadspin account and a GIF-centric account from SBnation for tweeting out NFL plays in GIF form. The complaints to Twitter reportedly cited the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which covers copyrighted material.

That move drew plenty of criticism for what some viewed as an unnecessarily broad application of copyright. The idea of “fair use” was bandied about, even though it does not necessarily apply to this kind of situation.

As for the Olympics, it seems this is the first time GIFs have been called out in particular.

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