An affiliate’s guide to World Cup copyrights

Naturally, operators and affiliates are itching to use the World Cup to their advantage when it comes to promoting their site. However, this can quickly put you in hot water as FIFA are litigious when protecting their brand. So what can you do to use the World Cup to your best advantage? We’ve summarised a quick download of what you can and can’t promote in regard to this major sporting event.

Using the term World Cup

The term World Cup can be used by operators and affiliates, however there are restrictions as to how you can use it. You can use the generic phrase World Cup, but not in relation to football. So, you could advertise a “World Cup Draw” but not a “Football World Cup Draw”. You also couldn’t use “World Cup Football Draw”, although you’re not using the full title, this would stray into dangerous territory. 

These are really subtle differences but ones that could end up leaving you with a cease and desist. In 2010, FIFA issued a warning to all businesses looking to piggyback on the World Cup. They clearly laid out what would be allowed, and what would not. 

FIFA reported that the first step to resolving these issues is a legal letter, though you can’t guarantee that they won’t take this further. 

Logos and graphics

Graphics and logos are protected, so don’t use these. No matter how tempting it is to use these on your banners or promotional materials, it can cause you to receive a fine or court action from FIFA. The logo, the trophy image and even the typeface are protected, so make sure you’re not overstepping any marks. 

The style of the posters and even using the city name in the wrong context can cause you to bear the brunt of legal action. This can be an easy mistake to make, as Moscow 2018 could be used within the promotion of your offer. 

Promoting World Cup Prize Draws

For major sporting events, we tend to see affiliates and operators giving away tickets in an effort to gain new following. This actually goes against the guidelines, unless you’re working with one of their official partners. Affiliates and operators are not permitted to run prize draws or promotions in which World Cup tickets are a prize.

This is also tricky to navigate for those that are using the words “World Cup” in a generic sense. While you may use these in a vague way, if your prizes are football or FIFA related, then you may be infringing on their brand. 

What to do if you receive a legal letter

If you do receive one of these legal letters from FIFA, it will outline exactly what you’ve done to infringe on their copyright (see post on law in image copyright). This will tell you what you need to edit or remove from your site in order to avoid further action. They may also give you a period of time in which you would need to comply with their recommendations. 

If you have been promoting an operator offer, which flouts these rules, then you would be responsible for removing this from your own site. Remove all of the assets that you can control and talk to your affiliate manager about the action. This is a good opportunity to grow the relationship you have with your affiliate manager, as you can work together on a solution. 

Other Useful Resources

The best place to get your information regarding these different rules and regulations is direct from FIFA. Each year, they publish a public guideline document, which tells you what you can and can’t do with regards to their branding. You can use this as your compass to keep you in the clear. 

This document is expansive, but you can use the examples given therein to act as a guide for you specific circumstances. If you want to jump on the World Cup bandwagon, it’s clear that you have to be careful with the words and creative that you use. If you work closely with operators and follow the guidelines, then you can use this sporting event to your advantage. 

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