Cease and desist with the Surrey crime jokes, already.
The City of Surrey wants a website that sells shirts spoofing its “The future lives here” logo to stop hawking the goods, including shirts that read “The future dies here,” “Better safe than Surrey” and “Surrey Beaver,” according to a cease and desist letter sent on Jan. 31.
But SurreyShirts.com marketing manager Don Pitcairn has no intention of shutting down despite the city’s attempt to refocus its image away from crime.
“I just want to sell shirts to do with the City of Surrey, my kind of town,” said the longtime resident of one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. “I love Surrey, it’s entertaining, it’s dark, it’s a little bit dangerous, it’s growing and it’s dynamic.”
His shirts, one which features a gun in place of the buildings on the city’s logo, are intended to be tongue-in-cheek political commentary with an anti-gang message in a city where five gangsters were shot dead in January.
The cease and desist letter, originally obtained by Business in Vancouver, identified the products on Pitcairn’s website but was addressed to the owner of a different company. It stated the website did not have permission to use the city’s logo and the city would take them to court if they failed to comply.
But city solicitor Craig MacFarlane said the city has no intention of pursuing legal action and the letter was simply to complain about misuse of the logo.
“We don’t care about the content, it’s free speech,” MacFarlane said. “But it’s the same with any brand, you don’t want people defacing your logo.”
Copyright laws passed in 2012 allow for use of copyright material for satire, parody and political commentary, but it’s not clear if that applies if a person is using it for commercial gain.
If it comes to a copyright battle, Pitcairn has some ammo up his sleeve. Last year, a city advertisement about cutting waste used his slogan “SRY CTY,” he said.
“For now I’m just going to ignore it, but if they want to get into a pissing contest…”