Stop the Olympic Prison poster

"Stop the Olympic Prison,"designed by Andy Hall and Michael Kroll, produced for the New York Moratorium on Prison Construction and the National Moratorium on Prison Construction, 1979. Offset, 58x37cm.
Collection of Lincoln Cushing, photo by Lincoln Cushing.

Stop the Olympic Prison poster
1980 Winter Olympics,
Lake Placid, New York

This poster was produced in 1979 as part of a campaign to challenge plans to convert the Olympic athletes' dormitory facilities into a state prison afterwards.

This poster made legal history when the National Moratorium on Prison Construction (NMPC) received a "cease and desist" letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and responded by filing a suit claiming "anticipatory breach of First Amendment" rights. The NMPC prevailed in court. Below is an excerpt from a web article by the Utah ACLU

"The Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. 380, gives the International Olympic Committee the exclusive right to prevent any person from using the following items for the purpose of trade, to induce the sale of any goods or services, or to promote any theatrical exhibition, athletic performance, or competition:

-The symbol of the IOC consisting of five interlocking rings;
-The emblem of the corporation;
-Any trademark, trade name, sign, symbol, or insignia falsely representing association with, or authorization by, the IOC;
-The words Olympic, Olympiad, Citius Altius Fortius, or any combination or simulation thereof tending to cause confusion, to cause mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation of any Olympic activity.

If the use of words or simulation of words in the Amateur Sports Act is purely non-commercial, the use may not infringe on IOC's trademark, Stop the Olympic Prison v. United States Olympic Committee, 489 F. Supp. 1112 (S.D.N.Y 1980). In STOP, the organization made a poster stating "STOP the Olympic Prison" and used the five rings symbol superimposed on bars to represent a prison. The court held that Congress' intent was to prevent confusion or deception in order to prevent false impressions of sponsorship. It was not to create a blanket prohibition of all uses, both commercial and non-commercial. Finding in favor of STOP, unless they used the Olympic symbol to advance one of its own products or services, the use would be permitted without violating any of USOC's trademark rights."

Also see another legal ruling in favor of activist free speech - Bay Area Peace Navy v. United States.

Other prison-issue graphics-
Two exhibits by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics

PRISON NATION - Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex
DEAD WRONG-International Posters Against the Death Penalty

page originally posted 2/2005; last updated 2/23/2020

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