The City of Abbotsford was behind a failed request to take down an online satirical version of its logo that had been altered by a homeless blogger to include an image of feces.
Earlier this month, a major provider of free websites inducted the city into its “Hall of Shame” for asking it to remove the image from a blog post that was nearly four years old.
The image accompanied a 2013 post critical of the city for dumping chicken manure at a Gladys Avenue site used by the homeless. The author, a homeless graphic designer from Vancouver, switched out the tree in the city’s logo with an image of coiled poop.
The request to Auttomatic, the company that operates Wordpress.com, came from a marketing company that does work for the city. It was unclear, though, whether the city had ordered the image’s removal or why it came several years after its posting. The image is prominent in Google image search results for the “City of Abbotsford.”
Mayor Henry Braun said last week that council was not involved in the request, but that he would not be surprised if staff had made the order, which cited the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
A spokesperson confirmed that in an email, writing: “The City of Abbotsford does not support the re-use, alteration, transmission, duplication, display, distribution, or commercial use of any text, graphic images, or content (effectively the City’s Brand) without the express written permission of the City. As a regular practice, the City approaches agencies, persons and entities that may be misusing the City’s brand whenever we become aware of the misuse.”
In its post earlier this month, though, Automattic derided the request and refused to remove the image.
The company wrote: “What is clear … 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 author did choose, however, to add a “parody” stencil over the image.