Nike, Minor Threat, and the fluid visual landscape

June 25th, 2005 by

Nike recently caused ripples through underground music communities with the images being used to promote it’s Major Threat skateboarding tour. Compare the Major Threat advertisement to the cover art for Minor Threat’s seminal discography.

In terms of IP discourse, the Minor Threat imagery is as revered and iconic to punk rockers as is Mickey Mouse to supporters of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. For a subculture with a long history of collage and parody, having the tactic work against them has been startling. “fisrt [sic] you rip off children in sweat shops, now you are ripping off the hard core scene!” reads one comment on the message boards.

“Nike never contacted Dischord to obtain permission to use this imagery, nor was any permission granted. Simply put, Nike stole it and we’re not happy about it. We are not yet sure what options, if any, we have to stop Nike from using our images to sell their shoes,” — Dischord Records.

Although many critics have advocated in favor of a lawsuit between Dischord and Nike, it is uncertain whether the indie record label could financially sustain a legal dispute with the multinational lifestyle purveyor.

As word of Nike’s alleged trespass spreads across the web, the sinews of semiotic democracy respond in kind. See this collection of parody album cover advertisements for an example of technology enabling increasingly sophisticated expressions of discontent.

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