Thursday, January 17, 2008

McGill Daily: Bluenotes Shirts

Date-rape T-shirts pulled from shelves

CFS challenges Bluenotes clothing company for copyright infringement, bad taste

By Tristan Lapointe News Writer

Bluenotes sold this shirt in their 116 stores – until the CFS protested.
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has charged a major clothing company with copyright infringement by incorporating its design into what it sees as an offensive and dangerous T-shirt slogan. Last month, Bluenotes, one of Canada’s largest retail chains, began selling a t-shirt modeled after the “No Means No” slogan design of a CFS campaign against dating violence and date rape. The Bluenotes shirt bears the same slogan, with the wording changed to “NO MEANS have aNOther drink.” The CFS, which has an open trademark on the image design, contacted Bluenotes with both ethical and legal complaints about the way that the clothing company was using their trademarked image. The garment was pulled from all 116 of Bluenotes’ stores last week. Brent Farrington, Deputy Chairman and Vice President of CFS as well as current leader of the NMN campaign, said that the attitude expressed by the shirt is partially responsible for perpetuating dating violence. “Initially when I asked why they made this shirt, I got the response that people think it’s funny. [But] even in irony it’s not particularly amusing,” said Farrington. In a letter to the CFS, Bluenotes president Michael Roden apologized for the offensive tee and asserted that his company was “committed to reflecting the values of its customers.” Roden also offered his design services to the CFS. This new partnership will create an edgier look for ‘No Means No’ and will probably do much to raise the profile of the campaign, according to Farrington. “They’ve offered to completely redesign our logos and to sell our shirts in their stores, which will give a portion of their proceeds to women’s charities. We applaud them for righting this wrong,” said Farrington. The No Means No campaign has been active since 1994, after a study by the World March of Women in 1990 concluded that one in four women will be sexually assaulted or attacked at some point. This, along with other statistics on dating violence and date rape, spurred the creation of the awareness campaign – which includes distributing No Means No paraphernalia at bars and other places where women are likely to drink. “Date rape and sexual assault are not going away. In fact, they’re become a bigger problem than ever as we’ll likely see in a new study on the issue coming out this year,” said Farrington. Dating violence and sexual assault remain a problem on university campuses across Canada – including McGill, said Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) external coordinator and former floor fellow Carly Boyce. “While we don’t keep statistics or records of the cases we handle here, I’ve learned through my time in Rez and at SACOMSS that there is still a huge problem with sexual assault at McGill,” Boyce said. A spokesperson for Bluenotes was not available for comment.

Originally published by The McGill Daily, Thursday, March 1st, 2007 Volume 96, Number 37

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