An image that incorporated a picture of feces into the City of Abbotsford’s logo will stay online despite a request to take down the graphic, a San Francisco technology company says.
More than three years ago, a homeless writer and illustrator named Stanley Woodvine wrote a blog post critical of the city following the dumping of chicken manure at a Gladys Avenue site used by the homeless to camp.
Within the piece, Woodvine included a version of the city’s logo that had been altered with an image of a coiled piece of poop. (Click here to see). Accompanying it, Woodvine wrote, “Oh crap! Abbotsford already needs to update their new city logo.”
In January, after the post had been online for three-and-a-half years, a marketing firm sent a notice to Automattic, the company that operates WordPress.com, asking it to remove the logo image. Woodvine’s blog is hosted on WordPress.com, one of the most-used free blogging platforms.
The notice, which cited the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, claimed copyright over the logo, according to a blog post published this week by Automattic on the “transparency” section of its website.
Automattic says it firmly rejected the notice, citing “fair use” provisions that allow for the use of such images in parodies. The request was also forwarded to Woodvine, who added a large parody stencil over the logo.
The Automattic post questioned why the notice was issued and why it was issued so long after the post was initially published.
“What is clear, however, is that this stinks. Pardon the pun. It was glaringly obvious that the addition of the hilariously large feces was for the purposes of parody, and tied directly to the criticisms laid out in the post. As a result, it seems hard to believe that the city council took fair use considerations into account before firing off their ill-advised notice, and trying to wipe up this mess.”
The post by Automattic was included in its “Hall of Shame,” which the company says catalogues improper takedown demands “to illustrate threats to freedom of speech and expression that we review and resist every day.”
It’s unclear whether the City or the marketing company initiated the request. The News has asked the City of Abbotsford and the marketing firm for comment.
Woodvine told The News via email that he had asked an employee of the marketing firm that sent then notice whether the company was acting on its own behalf, or under direction from the City of Abbotsford, but that she “was not forthcoming with any details.”
He said he didn’t know why the notice came so long after it was posted, although he said its appearance in Google searches did apparently irritate at one candidate during the 2014 election.