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The Fashion Blogosphere: 1, Steve & Barry's: 0. FASHIONTRIBES FASHION BLOG
Sadly, there is no artwork to go with this post because Steve & Barry's has seen fit to send their legal bloodhounds after any fashion bloggers who published photos of the new Bitten collection - which were obtained from other widely read blogs. (Many of us are beginning to wonder if they were deliberately leaked in a hamhanded attempt to generate buzz & get coverage for this otherwise completely mediocre & uninspired collection.)
Budget chain Steve & Barry's recently launched the press blitz for the new Bitten Sarah Jessica Parker line. They promised an exclusive preview of the line to Oprah magazine and other traditional long-line media outlets - and the photos were promptly leaked onto the Internet, where they ended up widely circulated & easily accessible. The Budget Fashionista obtained the pix from the public domain, and ran them with a less than glowing review (CLICK HERE to read it). Steve & Barry's legal bloodhounds wrote TBF (below) explaining the photos were "wrongfully obtained" from a password protected site not open to the public, and they need to be taken down. Papierdoll.net, Fashion Indie, & eBeautyDaily all posted in support, as did Second City Style, who received email from the legal brigade (below).
Not only did TBF not sneak photos off a site illegally, but hellooooooo, this is the age of the Internet, and once the fashionable cat is out of the bag, it's out. Times have changed. Interestingly, firms crave coverage of their products from the blogs, but then act like this. On a side note, something I particularly love about certain large & influential PR firms (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) is the hard-sell pitches they send to fashion bloggers, but then fail to give any of us a decent seat at one of their fashion shows, or even invite any of us to fancy product launches or events, limiting the invite list to
dinosaur print editors only. These companies fail to realize the reason blogs are popular is because unlike traditional magazines with a specific "voice" and a faceless masthead, bloggers are real people - with real opinions (which companies could probably benefit from). Unlike the blogs, long-line media is beholden to their roster of advertisers; it's specious (on their part) to talk about their "editorial" content, when in truth, it should probably come with an "advertorial" warning label.
UPDATE: Within a day of writing this & reposting some of the photos from TBF, I was contacted by phone by Steve & Barry's lawyers, informing me that if I didn't take them down, they would resort to more aggressive legal action. Given I'm but a blogger & these people have deep pockets, I was forced to comply. They may have the letter of the law on their side, but this is not really about the lawyers' letters or even the pictures themselves; after all, press pix & releases to magazines & media are meant to be disseminated & don't really fall within the typical contraints of plagiarism & photo theft. (Besides, if the photo embargo was that earthshatteringly crucial, send the pix out on CD or DVD Rom, but why on earth have photos available on the web? Duh.) The issue here is that the Internet has irrevocably changed the landscape, of which blogs are a key part.
- Lesley Scott
Letter from Steve & Barry's to Second City Style:
Steve & Barry's has discovered that images of the BittenTM collection, which have not been authorized for public release, have been posted to your website and forum "secondcitystyle.com." We are very concerned about this unauthorized release, and would appreciate if you removed these images immediately from secondcitystyle.com, and any other site that you or your company may operate. We ask you, as the Editor-in-Chief of Second City Style to handle this matter with discretion and confidentiality; and send an email confirmation that you have complied with the above requests.
Steve & Barry's wishes to resolve these matters amicably, and without having to resort to litigation. We appreciate your speedy attention to this matter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me as listed below.
Your timely and anticipated cooperation is greatly appreciated.
The letter from Steve & Barry's Lawyer to TBF:
To Whom It May Concern:
Good Morning, I am the Assistant General Counsel for Steve & Barry's asking you to please remove the images of the Bitten collection from the above captioned website and any other site or link in your control that may lead to these images. These were wrongfully obtained from a password protected website, and are not authorized for public distribution. I hope you understand, we're a company that as a mission looks out for our shoppers and the public at large. To keep our prices as low as they are for merchandise of such high quality requires that we don't advertise. We rely on mass publicity as our leading awareness builder. Having any images appear on the web prior to the launch of this collection June seriously jeopardizes agreements we have in place with global media outlets that have been promised first rights to show the merchandise. We absolutely want to work with you to provide information and/or images that are unique and special to you and your audience as a thank you for your cooperation. As a first step, we will grant permission to you to use the black/white image of Sarah Jessica Parker in a tshirt and jean jacket. But for now we are hoping you will cooperate with us and remove all the other images.
(image: Midwest Rock Lobster)
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So flippin true!!! When is the mainstream going to wake up and realize we are taking their steam away. I love the write-up and I'm putting it on Fashion Indie.
Posted by: Daniel Saynt | Mar 27, 2007 6:53:49 PM
Thanks Lesley for posting this.. This issue is SO much bigger than what's on TBF, fashionista, or any of the other blogs.It's about pr firms trying to control the message- something which is nearly impossible in today's internet age.
What kills me is that I actually like s&B- not for myself but for my sports-loving husband.
Posted by: TBF | Mar 27, 2007 7:21:38 PM
A huge second to this -- makes me nuts that bloggers are dissed for events, samples and wining and dining. Even more offensive--these magazines and tv shows that have their PR people email every address I have telling me to link to them. Reciprocal links for moi? No can do.
"the hard-sell pitches they send to fashion bloggers, but then fail to give any of us a decent seat at one of their fashion shows, or even invite any of us to fancy product launches or events, limiting the invite list to dinosaur print editors only. "
Posted by: Michelle Madhok | Mar 28, 2007 7:51:41 AM
I'm going to have to agree with the panel and Lesley here. This is blatant and completely disregards the wonderful work that bloggers are doing to get the word out. Apparently getting the word out only works when it is to the advantage of these companies and PR firms. When it is not, they send you cease and desist letters.
Posted by: Eva | Mar 29, 2007 8:52:53 AM
I agree. I re-posted this on my blog and got a little letter from S&B today myself. These photos were leaked on purpose. Had we given the line rave reviews, I'm sure they would be OK with us 'posting' them. The actress/singer turned designer/perfumer has been played out to death. Thankfully the masses are tiring of it too. Can't anyone be happy doing one thing well anymore? Why the need to build an empire of smoke and mirrors?
Posted by: Lauren | Mar 29, 2007 11:18:11 PM
I love how they added the "TM" to Bitten in the letter they sent you and Lauren.
Any competent pr professional will tell you that if you post the pictures on the web (even though it's password protected), it's going to be disseminated.
Posted by: TBF | Mar 30, 2007 11:46:58 AM
bloggers are NOT taking the steam of mainstream media away. NO ONE takes you seriously, bloggers. Seriously. It is time to wake up and realize that you have NO job set in which to make a living now that you have wasted your lives for so long writing diaries online. You are jokes. Not making a difference in any way, shape or form.
Posted by: JK87 | Jun 12, 2007 12:41:45 AM