Olympics 2010: The Arrogance of VANOC

Ok, so I am not sure how this has happened but it seems that VANOC has secured a patent on words that are in our Canadian National Anthem. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t these words belong to Canadians? While the anthem has a bit of a convoluted history with its roots in Quebec, it is nonetheless the one thing that binds Canadians together from sea-to-sea. The English version was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The Anthem officially became ours when the Constitution was patriated (not re-patriated as some would like to say, our Constitution had never been here so re-patriation was not possible) in 1980.

So, if the Canadian people don’t own the anthem and the line ‘with glowing hearts’ then surely the descendants of Robert Stanley Weir must. If we take a look at the debacle that was the Hockey Night in Canada theme, another ubiquitous Canadian song that was only loaned to CBC by Dolores Claman to see that the creator of the song holds some control. I am not sure what arrangements, if any, were made with Weir’s family but it would seem to me that they should have a say in how the song is used.

It also seems very lazy on VANOC’s part to co-opt part of our national anthem as the theme for the Vancouver/Whistler olympics. I am sure they could have had some brilliant and high-priced marketing company come up with a new and novel motto for the games.

I wonder what the implications are for this in other areas. Will all networks who televise hockey games where the Canadian Anthem is sung have to blank out the patented words? Will they have to pay royalties to VANOC or be sued. How much will VANOC have to pay to itself every time a Canadian wins a gold medal a the Olympics?

Really, this is all very silly. Patenting part of a national anthem, something that represents an entire nation, is kind of like patenting water…