Sunday, 3 November 2013

#LogoWars

Left New Kids on the Block fan twitter page. Right is The Blockheads twitter page
My post today may seem like it has nothing to do with photography but in a way it does, because I'm going to share a copyright story with you that's on going as I type. (though may be over by the time you read this, who knows how long it will last...or how long it will take me to write it) It truly amazes me how many people don't understand copyright and think it's OK to use other people's work as their own and go as far as profiting from it.

Here's the story....

You've heard of New Kids on the Block? Boy band that hit the scene in 1984? Broke-up ten years later then made a come back in 2008? I only know this information because I looked it up just now, so don't judge me. Anyway they've got this fan group who call themselves The Blockheads. Yep, The Blockheads. Yes the same as the English rock and roll band The Blockheads who have been around since 1977 and are still going strong. Calling themselves Blockheads is not what sparked me to write this blog post, it is the logo they are using for their fan pages on Twitter and Facebook. The fan page stole the original Blockheads logo which they've been using since 1977 and had been specifically designed for them by the late artist Barney Bubbles.

Here are some screen grabs of the logo in question in use. Note, the NKOTB fan page have since removed the logo, but they still are claiming they designed it. Also please note that this is a NKOTB FAN Page and nothing to do with the actual NKOTB (New Kids On The Block).

NKOTB Fan twitter page

NKOTB Fan Facebook page using same logo.
 Now the fan page claims that the logos are only similar. Well if similar means exact then yes, they are similar. Seriously, in who's world is this only similar? And how would anyone accidentally come up with this same logo design with the exact same placements, exact font and exact colour combination? Shame on you Blockheads Unite.

Here are The Blockhead's pages using their rightful logo designed specifically for them by Barney Bubbles.

The Blockheads Facebook Page

The Blockheads twitter page

We see this sort of thing in the photography world all the time, someone nicking an image from the internet and then using it as their own. I've had quite a few of my images done this way. One in particular has been used hundreds of times, mostly on blogs and mostly with a poem of some sort. I've had a few that have been used on professional sites and used to promote businesses used without my permission as well. Oh and even found an image of mine offered free for download once! This is one reason I put those nasty logos on my images these days. I hate to, because I love sharing my images, but I don't want them used without my permission. Same goes for logos.

The Blockheads website
Back to #LogoWars....

I find the name of The Blockheads new album quite ironic, given the events unfolding. Tickled my funny bone. :-D

Here are some screen grabs of a series of tweets made by the NKOTB fan page @Blockeads (Yes the 'h' is missing)


Fan page tweeted soon after the logo issue was brought to their attention, claiming logo as theirs

Again claiming the logo as their design

This next tweet by the NKOTB fan page I really have a hard time believing...they actually challenge the Blockheads band about their own logo!
Directly challenging The Blockheads band and their logo 
The Blockheads band reply

Still claiming the logo as their creation. 
This is funny beyond belief really! This logo they claim as stolen from them and accusing people of using on shirts etc was used on shirts, records, posters, etc long before NKOTB even thought about becoming a band themselves!

Again, without question, claiming the logo design as their own creation

I just really have a hard time wrapping my head around this. Seriously? They really believe they designed this logo themselves? Exact same design, exact same placements, exact same font, exact colours.... Seriously?

Now it's hubby's work is it? 

The fan page has been busy deleting their posts and on their fb page have been busy deleting all comments calling them out on their logo theft & blocking people from reposting, myself being one of the blocked.

Post from NKOTB fan facebook page and reply which got me banned. 
Above is a post on their FB page stating that they are still claiming they designed the logo in question. I called them out on it and I was banned from posting on the group. I wasn't the only one either. They eventually took this post down because of all the people pointing out who the real designer of the logo was.

Here are some more screen grabs from fb...any that were on the NKOTB fan page have been deleted by them.

Screen grab from NKOTB fan page
Screen grab from NKOTB fan page
Of course there were lots of other posts from people but they were deleted quite quickly.

Here is The Blockheads response on facebook. This screen grab is from the NKOTB fan page which has been removed of course, but can still be found on The Blockheads FB page.

Screen grab from facebook
screen grab from facebook
Here are a few screen grabs of random tweets, there were loads more of course:







You can search for tweets on this by going to the Twitter Search page and searching for key words like @Blockeads. Which is what I did. Of course you can't see any tweets that have since been deleted. 

Oh and just when I thought it was all over I found this 'apology' (if you can call it that) from NKOTB's number one fan, Becky. It doesn't currently show up on their fb page but you can find it so they must have hidden it from their timeline..... for now. Becky's apology found here. (If it hasn't been deleted yet that is)

Becky's apology on facebook
Again, seriously?! She's still claiming she designed the logo? Well I did a bit of investigating, using the screen shots I'd grabbed before they were removed from the internet. Let's start with twitter.

Twitter logos side by side

Twitter logos layered
I took the screen grab of the two twitter logos from both accounts and I compared them side by side and I also layered one over the other, changing the opacity of the one on top so that the one underneath would show through. This of course makes a blury image...except where the two are exactly the same. I zoomed in and not a pixel was out of place with the two logos. They are the exact same, no question. This is not a fluke as Becky claims.

I did the same thing with the facebook logos I'd managed a screen grab of.

Screen grab of fb logos side by side
Logos from fb layered
As you can see, the logos used a bit of a different crop but the main bit of the logo in the middle is the exact same, pixel for pixel. In the layered photo where the pixels line up exactly comes out nice and sharp and a darker white. Again, there is no question that these are the same logos as designed by Barney Bubbles back in 1977. There is no way this is a coincidence. These are not similar, they are exact. They didn't even bother to change it or redo it. It's the exact same. Not only that it's an iconic image! **head to desk**

I honestly don't understand why anyone would want to take someone's work and claim it as their own. I do believe that people can come up with similar things, I've seen it many times. There's been many times I thought I'd come up something original only to find out later that someone else had done it before me. But they weren't the exact same, just the same general idea.

I still feel Becky from NKOTB fan page should own up to her thievery and apologize to The Blockheads. If she hadn't claimed she designed it herself I wouldn't have called it 'thievery'. But she did, and that's exactly what it is.

Am I being harsh? No, I don't believe I am. I've got several images out there right now being used without my permission and I have not contacted any of them and called them a thief. I have contacted a few commercial websites and called them out on it though and they have either removed my image and/or apologized and given me credit for the image. Or in one case paid me for the use of my image. I've only found one of my images where the person implied that it was their image and they quickly removed it.

So in conclusion. Don't use other people's work without their permission and without paying them for that use if appropriate. Can you use other people's work as inspiration? Yes, of course. Put your own spin on something, but please do credit when appropriate.

I am in no way associated with The Blockheads, but I am a fan. Here's a link to The Blockheads Youtube Channel, which I didn't manage to squeeze into this post. One of my favourite songs is 'Hit me with your rhythm stick' by The Blockheads. :-)

I will most likely be discussing part of this on my monthly radio show, Beyond the Lens. I might even give it a mention on my weekly radio show Stroud Women at Noon. Both shows are on Stroud FM my local community radio station.

Have fun everyone! But please be nice to each other. x

***********************
PS/EDIT: 
I don't know why I didn't think of this before but, the original logo created by Barney Bubbles in 1977 would have been created in a much different way than we create things today. Becky is claiming to have created this same logo with a paint program on her computer! Completely different than would have been done in 1977! There just is no way she accidentally created the exact same logo pixel for pixel. Shame on you Becky for claiming that you designed this exact same logo yourself. 

11 comments:

  1. Is there even a slight chance whatsoever that Becky could be telling the truth? Surely, before accusing someone of stealing a logo and claiming it as their own, they have to have come across the logo before in able to copy it. I'd heard of Ian Drury before but not the Blockheads let alone new what their logo was.
    I'm guessing Becky was in the same position, she's American and fan of NKOTB which means she's probably not old enough to have been around when the Blockheads were big in late 70s, early 80s.
    Also, we humans are very good at seeing order in randomness. Newton and Leibniz came up with calculus at the exact same time. These things do happen. Yes, its the exact same, not just similar but that doesn't mean she downloaded it from the internet and used it and claimed it as her own.

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  2. Hi Nicola, thank you for your reply. But in this case she did exactly that, copied it from the internet and claimed it as her own. There is no way she's made the exact same design with no design knowledge and doing it digitally where the original was done before the digital age. Completely different medians. Anyone with any design knowledge can see this clearly. You don't just sit down with 'paint' and design something like this. Not exactly, pixel for pixel which this is. I also doubt very seriously that she has that font on her computer. She was caught out and can't admit she was wrong. Plain and simple.

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  3. Anyone who still thinks that Becky may have designed it accidentally in 'Paint', sit down yourself and try and make the same logo. I use computers in my work all the time but I would find it impossible to replicate without weeks of research into fonts. This is not a font that your average person would have on their computer, and there is no way she would have 'happened' to have chosen it while using her 'Paint' program.
    She should have had the good grace to say, I got mixed up and while i thought I had designed it, now I can remember that it was one I found on Google. We put 'Blockheads' into Google images yesterday and this logo comes up within the first few results. She must have thought she was the first person to have found it, or something. She should just own up.

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  4. When you've been rumbled just admit it instead of digging a bigger hole is the moral of the tale. Ok I'm from England seen Ian (RIP) and the Blockheads, grown up with there music. I'm new to this internet world even at nearly fifty years old and have a lot to learn about the RULES of this digital world, but this is a mistake which could have been easily corrected. I just wonder what Ian Dury and the Blockheads fan was checking out a New kid's on the block fan page? Haha.

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  5. It's possible to create a logo like this digitally, using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, but I'm not convinced it could have been designed in "paint".Also, the font is one commonly used by designers, but not commonly available as a default on a home PC.

    Can she name the font she used in "her" logo? Can she provide her paint program's source file? Or a screenshot of her showing she has the ability to create such a logotype in a paint program? It's certainly POSSIBLE that the art was created separately and just happened to be identical, but it is incredibly unlikely. She would've had to have the same idea, choose the same colors, font, kerning, vertical spacing, "L" length, and size. What are the odds? Pretty close to zero.

    She lied and she is just clinging to the lie.

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  6. Hey Nicola

    People do have similar ideas all the time, and if the logos were close, she could have claimed simultaneous thought, or subconscious, accidental copying. But this image is identical. Absolutely identical.

    It's like the difference between two people coming up with the same melody, or plot for a book (which does happen), and two people having exactly the same song, note for note, beat for beat, or the exact same book, word for word, with even the punctuation in the same place.

    One could be an accident, but the other absolutely can't be. Becky's apology feels a bit thin when she's still being dishonest. I presume she actually did a google image search for "Blockheads" and took the picture. It's a shame she's not just owning up.

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    Replies
    1. It's more like her uploading an mp3 of Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick to her page and claiming she made it in Garageband, surely?

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  7. Hello, I am sending from Buenos Aires (Argentina) publication I made in my blog about the new album of The Blockheads and logo curious conflict with NKOTB fans. I have taken the information from your excellent article and I included the link corresponding to your blog. Congratulations, Aldo. (sorry for my English, I used an online translator!)

    http://algomasquerockandroll.blogspot.com.ar/2013/11/the-blockheads-vs-los-fans-de-new-kids.html

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Aldo, nice blog post. :-)

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  8. Black Is Black. I want my logo back. Only in this case black is white. Why can't people who have been rumbled just hold their hands up and say "It's a fair cop?" The logo, which I have proudly wearing on my T-shirt for years as a tribute to both Barney Bubbles as well as Ian D(r)ury was stolen pure and simple.

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  9. Speaking as someone who tried to recreate the Blockheads logo for a concert poster once using modern software and fonts, I can vouch for how difficult it is to recreate Mr Bubbles; masterpiece, even when you're trying.

    Having said that, Becky should be given as much slack as possible. Anyone who dedicates so much of her time to NKOTB when many other other art forms are available obviously has a slice missing from her pizza.

    Finally, let's remind ourselves how the term Blockheads entered universal consciousness: http://youtu.be/vvxEytUO1pU

    ReplyDelete