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Friday, June 24, 2005

Major or Minor Threat?

Punknews.org posted the following story (first scooped by Pitchfork):

According to this story, multi-billion dollar shoemaker, Nike has stolen the legendary artwork of hardcore pioneers, Minor Threat. Destined for a campaign called Major Threat, the style and iconic imagery was used for the advertising and done so without the permission of Washington, D.C. based indie Dischord. The label owns the copyright on both the recording and artwork.

OK, it's one thing for Rancid to pay homage to Minor Threat's album cover with their artwork for . . . And Out Come the Wolves. It's a whole other (and incredibly insulting) thing to do this.

Yes, Dischord is a part of the broad view of punk rock; just like how SST Records, the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Green Day, Bad Religion and the Bad Brains are lumped together. However, Dischord is not synonymous with big corporations and the kind of games big corporations play.

Say what you will about Ian MacKaye's personality traits, but he is still a voice of inspiration for doing things your way. "I'm from the punk underground," he told me last year. "I'm still in the punk underground." While I don't agree with everything he has to say or how he feels or how he acts, I give him credit for sticking to his principles. So when I see something that Dischord is a part of be taken without MacKaye's or Jeff Nelson's authorization is wrong. What if a beer company used an image of Charles Bukowski for an ad?

This is a sign of how far removed independent culture is interpreted in a world where ideas from the 1980s DIY underground are considered mainstream. The important thing to point out is that while these terms are household terms, they don't necessarily mean they taken seriously. People can mold anything into something else when it is out there in the public. But as Ian told me last year: "How do you let people know about your work without pimping your work?"

Nike serves the purpose of comfortably covering feet. Dischord serves the purpose of documenting a regional sound, time and place. We're not talking apples and oranges here. We're talking apples and clocks.

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