Did a UK fashion marketer rip off logo for iconic punk band CRASS?

At left, the CRASS logo, first seen in the mid-1970s. Center and right, a recent design for the UK garment retailer "Hardware," which appears to have repurposed the CRASS logo after 35 years of prior use, and crassly so. Punk News says the band and their label are aware of it. More at exclaim.ca, and Cult Punk. As an aside: I used to own the vinyl 45 for the Crass release shown above. Almost got a tattoo for it. (via Doctor Popular)


    1. They’re not similar at all. The Thule society logo is clearly a swastika without a snake, while the Crass logo is a snake on an unhooked cross, thus not a swastika.

      1. They crop circle is exactly like the Crass logo. How can you not see it? Crass simply added a text circle on the outside and removed the center circle.

  1. Xeni is the coolest person ever. And I hope that somehow this results in massive cash landing on all ex Crass members in the form of a lawsuit.

    1. Somehow I have difficulty picturing anarchists filing lawsuits. Of course Jello Biafra did, but then he never wore political anarchy on his sleeve.

    2. Considering how quicly they modified the logo, I suspect it will eventually result in a statement along the lines of “oops, our bad, we weren’t paying attention when the designer cooked it up. He’s modified it now, and is very sorry and has been sufficiently whipped with heavy chains.”

  2. Looks like a rip-off to me.  What I can’t figure out is how this post squares with all the anti-intellectual-property posts I read on BB.  Is it only “fair use” when the user is someone you like?

      1. Dismissive Boingboinger is dismissive. Sorry, Xeni, calling ’em like I see ’em. I just really hate these labeling tactics, as if you don’t have to deal with somebody’s points if you can say “Aha! I bet you’re one of $EASILY_DISMISSABLE_OUTSIDER_GROUP.” I hate that crap from the rank and file on Reddit, and I hate it coming from the fingers of Internet celebrities I might otherwise get to like. :( 

        I know we’ve all heard these questions a million times before, here, but maybe this dude has not followed your site’s illustrious career quite as closely as you assume? Would it really kill you to do Intellectual Property Ethics 101 for someone who asked an honest question? If not, could you not make sweeping assumptions about his sincerity because he’s questioning Sacred Doctrine? (Sacred Doctrine of yours that I mostly AGREE with, but that’s not the point at all.)

        1. comment 1 azaner”i have no knowledge of copyright law and believe you are all hypocrites”
          comment 2 xeni”we should ignore comments that end with an insult”
          comment 3 bardfinn-(a summary and interpretation of 17 U.S.C. § 107 )
          comment 4 kmoser”in my opinion your summary of 17 U.S.C. § 107 is flawed”
          comment 5 aron”princess bride what an awesome movie”
          comment 6 bjacques”to kmoser, your opinion is flawed”
          comment 7 Rezeya Montecore”to xeni, you are wrong you should reply to asaner with a summary and interpretation of 17 U.S.C. § 107.
          comment 8 aron”cyclical patterns in discussion of united states copyright law”

        2. Or maybe you could do some intensive research, like maybe reading the Comment Policy, so that you’d realize that BB is a collective of bloggers with different opinions on different subjects and that there is no party line on IP issues, which azaner has reduced to a trollsnark sound bite.  And azaner has been around here long enough to know better.

    1. There’s a difference between the reference of culture to further develop culture and the appropriation of culture to make moolah. That is the difference between fair use and rip off.

      1. By your logic, if I appropriate your design but don’t make money from it, that’s fair use–even if I take credit for the work and deny you had anything to do with it.

        The problem is, money is only one of many forms of compensation that can be derived from a work.

        1. But then you become That Guy. And just as there are non-monetary kinds of compensation (e.g., moral right to recognition as creator), for appropriating it there are sanctions other than lawsuits.

    2. What I can’t figure out is how this post squares with all the anti-intellectual-property posts I read on BB.

      There is a difference between being “anti-IP” and believing that the current interpretation of such law is out-of-balance with regards to the right’s-holders and the common good. In general, I don’t see BB posts as being anti-IP, so much as believing that the cultural commons is being increasingly gutted for the profits of said right’s holders. (An opinion I share.)

      But I also agree with Rezeya Montecore, and find it unkind that some BBers seem more comfortable with ad hominen responses than with taking a few minutes to clarify their opinions.

  3. This kind of art is mechanical of design, so let’s not have a contest to see who was first to interlock wide circle bands.  Here is a link to one of MANY paintings by Frank Stella.  This one from 1970 and there are more . . . many more . . . please know that the arts grow by growing, not by getting all fidgety of brainy part.  You get to be original by doing something that can’t be origined again.  Copied, yes, but not birthed. http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS5G7ylkVrnkYV4unehozS45JjdmuIWW54lGDc5zTEYqFOZGCu5

    1. I’d never thought of the Frank Stella similarity!

      But the visual kinship between that Stella painting and the Crass logo is one thing, and the copy-paste cloning that seems evident in the Hardware logo is another matter entirely.

  4. Funny how a few small changes can turn a fairly cool bit of artwork into something very dull and bland.  It seems as though the only bit of artwork that designers/fashion people care about any more is the logo of the company that made the article of clothing/sunglasses/purse/whatever.  It’s boring.

  5. I still own a Crass shirt from way back in the day.  For the most part, it’s solely a “workout at the gym” shirt these days, given the shape it’s in, but my wife doesn’t like me wearing it because she thinks it looks too much like a swastika when just glanced at quickly.

  6. When there is no authority but yourself, who enforces IP rights?

    This is the second time the crass logo has crept into high fashion.
    The last appropriator was Jean-Paul Gaultier.
    Amusingly, British Football Icon David Beckam was often photographed in his Crass/JPG t-shirt!
    I wonder if he knew much about it’s symbolism?

    Crass’ feelings on the subject?
    Steve Ignorant would like some dosh from the designers.
    Penny Rimbaud is just loveably philosophically about it.

    My opinion – that logo was specifically designed to go out into the world
    and do some culture jamming…
    What great energy there was in the graphic design of the punk era!

  7. Terrible, awful grammar in the headline – It could be ‘of” or ‘from’ but definitely not ‘for’. The UK fashion brand did not rip off the band’s logo FOR the band did they? Perhaps they did. Maybe the UK fashion brand entered into a cynical marketing ploy with the band to gain some currency for the ageing punkers???

    1. (Disclaimer: The following in all in good sport and purely IMHO, Jambon. TWO PEDANTS WILL ENTER THE CAGE OF DEATH. ONLY ONE WILL LEAVE! :) That said…)

      It’s “the logo FOR the band Crass.” Taken in isolation like that, the usage is a little eccentric, but I don’t see anything wrong with it, myself. The preposition is perfectly appropriate; the way I see it, you had to made the unnecessary assumption that “for iconic punk band Crass” modifies “ripped off,” and not the IMHO far more sensible interpretation where it modifies “logo.” Without that deliberate misconstruction, I don’t feel there’s nearly as much to criticize.

      I do think you’re right that their usage introduces ambiguity that is a bit inelegant; I also think “terrible, awful grammar” is a drastic exaggeration for all but the Lynne Truss crowd, who are nice people in general but generally best avoided at cocktail parties. ;)

  8. Couple things… as mentioned they’ve already changed the logo (it looks like it was a quick-and-dirty redo).

    Also, their clothes are, well, ridiculous. I can’t imagine anyone – even counter-culture people who wear weird stuff – wearing any of it.

    Finally – their registered business address is apparently a houseboat on the Thames. There must be some reason or advantage to doing this?

  9. Great ol’ logo, i still have a couple of their vinyl albums – don’t recall ever hearing  them,- one of those bands famous for their artwork rather than the music….

    1. Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Both Crass and The Ex jam packed their records with art and goodies, but it was second to the music.  Just because you never listened to the “vinyl albums” you own doesn’t mean they are a band known more for their graphic design aesthetic than their music.

    1. They not only owe Crass an apology, they should owe damages and royalties for copyright infringement and be forced to pull the product off the shelves and attempt a recall of what was sold. 

  10. I think the issue is not about some absolutist IP ideology, but comes down to ethics and intent. Crass were a non-profit collective of anarchists. It’s just totally wrong to turn their symbol into some kind of fashion icon. It’s evil.

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