The pop­u­lar tabloid has taken le­gal ac­tion against new­bie fash­ion la­bel Sash over a range of spoof T-shirts that the pa­per be­lieves in­fringe its copy­right. Rhodé Mar­shall re­ports

CityPress - - Front Page -

Young cloth­ing brand Sash is lit­er­ally mak­ing head­lines with its Daily Sash range of T-shirts that puts a pos­i­tive spin on the Daily Sun news­pa­per’s street posters. “Tokoloshe helped me find love!”, “My hair talks to my an­ces­tors!”, “4-5 got me land!” read some of the hi­lar­i­ous tees. But Daily Sun is not at all amused and last week in­ter­dicted the sale of the T-shirts and is con­sid­er­ing fur­ther le­gal ac­tion.

Sash founder, de­signer Sakhile Ce­bekhulu, isn’t sure what all the fuss is about, though. To him the posters have al­ways been part of his cul­tural life grow­ing up in Joburg. The idea for the range be­gan back in 2016 when he was study­ing fash­ion at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. In­trigued by the Daily Sun posters, he be­gan col­lect­ing them, he told cul­ture web­site Bub­blegum Club, which first re­ported on the T-shirts early this week.

“I worked on th­ese tem­plates and started writ­ing or think­ing of my own head­lines and phrases. A T-shirt can act as a wear­able poster and I thought about speak­ing of cur­rent is­sues fac­ing the youth to spark con­ver­sa­tion.”

But then a storm broke. Lead­ing up to the re­lease of the Daily Sash project last Sun­day, Ce­bekhulu posted a front page and posters par­o­dy­ing the Daily Sun on so­cial me­dia as part of a mar­ket­ing cam­paign for the T-shirts.

The day be­fore Sash was to have a pop-up stall to sell the T-shirts, it was sent a cease-and-de­sist let­ter by lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Daily Sun and Me­dia24 at 5pm and asked to re­spond by 6pm, Bub­blegum Club re­ported. The brand was in­structed to halt the pop-up store and re­move the con­tent from so­cial me­dia due to trade­mark in­fringe­ment. It was also told that any sale of the shirts would lead to a high court ac­tion against it.

Ce­bekhulu told Bub­blegum Club: “Af­ter much con­sid­er­a­tion and strate­gis­ing we opted to carry on with the pop-up, but not the sale of the T-shirts. We in­stead de­cided to give them away, but cus­tomers would only be re­warded with a free T-shirt af­ter buy­ing a pa­per bag for R300. Thus we would not be gain­ing fi­nan­cially from the T-shirts. It helped cre­ate more hu­mour around the cam­paign and made our cus­tomers want them even more, be­cause they thought it was such a cool con­cept.”

Ap­proached for comment this week Daily Sun edi­tor Reggy Moalusi told City Press: “We have seen the T-shirts. No per­mis­sion was asked from us. Our le­gal team is work­ing on this. We do en­cour­age cre­ativ­ity, but don’t take kindly to our brand be­ing used by peo­ple for their com­mer­cial in­ter­ests.”

Said Ce­bekhulu: “I was just try­ing to tell a story and cre­ate a prod­uct peo­ple could con­nect to.” He ad­mit­ted that he didn’t ask per­mis­sion be­cause he be­lieved Daily Sun would have tried to stop the project be­fore it even started.

Ac­cord­ing to le­gal ad­vice sought by City Press, Daily Sun will have a bat­tle on its hands. “This is not the first time we see ex­am­ples of well-known brands be­ing used in par­ody and comment,” said a lawyer well versed in copy­right is­sues.

“There is a strong ar­gu­ment that they are not in­fring­ing copy­right or other in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and that what they are do­ing con­sti­tutes free­dom of ex­pres­sion. The Con­sti­tu­tional Court in the Laugh it Off mat­ter re­jected a sim­i­lar claim by South African Brew­eries.”

The judg­ment was given in 2005.

In that case the T-shirts par­o­dy­ing Black La­bel beer read “White Guilt, Black Labour”.

Ac­cord­ing to the lawyer “in that mat­ter the court held: in sum, in or­der to suc­ceed the owner of the mark bears the onus to demon­strate like­li­hood of sub­stan­tial harm or detri­ment which, seen within the con­text of the case, amounts to un­fair­ness. On the ex­am­ples of T-shirts I have seen I will be sur­prised if Daily Sun will be able to show such harm.”

Ce­bekhulu tells City Press he knew there would be ques­tions of own­er­ship around his project. “I pro­longed the re­lease of the project be­cause of those con­cerns.

“I am part of a new gen­er­a­tion that was for­tu­nate to be born in the late 90s and live in the 2000s. We have new sto­ries we want to tell. We are tired of sell­ing black poverty. We want to give a new iden­tity to what it is to be black youth liv­ing in South Africa.”

The de­signer has had his work shown at the Tur­bine Art Fair and the Art Africa Fair, and was part of an RMB art col­lec­tion.

GOOD HAIR DAY This tee cen­tres the pol­i­tics of black hair as a sym­bol of power and her­itage

EXPROPRIATE THIS The land is­sue gets a hu­mor­ous spin with this T-shirt par­ody of a street poster

HAPPY HEARTS CLUB The T-shirts de­pict the Daily Sun’s iconic tokoloshe as a force for good

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