The Budget Fashionista vs. Steve Barry’s: Should I Take the Pictures of Bitten by Sarah Jessica Pa

 

UPDATE: Read about Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker on Oprah

UPDATE: So far, you guys want the pictures to stay up. What I hope will happen is that Steve & Barry’s and TBF (as well as the other blogs who’ve posted the pictures) can reach some sort of agreement as to how to use the pictures, besides removing them for marketing purposes. I LIKE the store and don’t want to be “enemies” with the company.

We just received a letter (click below to read it) asking us to take down the photos of the Steve & Barry pictures. We didn’t take the photos from a password protected site (in fact they had already entered the public domain by the time we received the pictures). In fact, I knew about the line in Feb, but was asked, as a courtesy, not to post it (i posted it as a fashion blind item).

Click Here to Read the Post in Question

Here’s why I think (and this is just my opinion) Steve & Barry’s wants the photos removed:
1. Your (the consumers) reaction to the line has been less than glowing. This scares Steve & Barry’s, which is why their pr folks have been posing as “readers”, posting comments on my blog and several other blogs. This is a MAJOR No-No, in the world of internet.

2. Steve & Barry’s promised an exclusive preview on the line, which is a pretty dumb pr mistake in this internet driven time, to several media outlets including Oprah and other long lead media outlets. It is from these folks- the ones they promised exclusivity to- that the pictures even leaked. Of course, these media outlets would only say glowing things about the line and not allow you, the consumer, to offer your opinion on the line. It’s called “controlling the message”, which is really about controlling your response to their product. 

So before I make decision regarding the pictures- I’m going to ask you, the readers, what should I do.  Should I remove them? Should I keep them? I will take them down only if you, the readers, feel like I should. My first priority is to you, not Steve & Barry’s. If you feel that removing the pictures will jeopardize the integrity of the site.. then the pictures stay and I will fight it. 

P.s. Steve and Barry, if you want someone to help you out.. it’s probably better to address them by their first name, instead of sending a form letter.

Read their lawyer’s letter below

Target.com

Wal-Mart

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.

Sponsored Content

Comments

  1. Jessica says

    No you should NOT take the pictures down!!!!! this is fashion for crying out loud not evidence of some important crime!!!!!! they are probably just pissed because they realized the clothes suck. Budget Fashionista you rock!!!! you keep fighting THE MAN!!!

  2. says

    Perhaps our beef should be with the media outlts who only run stories if they are exclusives. If they cannot keep up with the posting schduls of the new media it is the problem of the outlets and not blogs or Steve and Barry’s. Our reach is often just as impressive, if not more, and Steve and Barry’s should realize that these photos have had a tremendous journey across the blogosphere.

    In the Coutorture network alone I have seen hundreds of posts and we as a collctive receive 20 million impressions a month. I should say that is a far bit of publicity.

    Coutorture itself has experienced this. La Force and Stevens often requests that we do not attend Target press previws because they fear that blogs will post the photos. But what happened with the Libertine photos? An Elle Magazine market editor blog published the photos. Oops!

    I would content that Steve and Barry’s, not being a very sophisticated shop, just simply does not know how to handle this dilemma. I vote that it is far too late to take down th images and that even asking for such a thing is likely to create a public relations maelstrom.

  3. Ennlowe says

    Absolutely DO NOT remove the pictures! You had every right to post them since they were obtained legally, and Steve & Barry’s is just mad because the feedback on the line has been less-than-enthusiastic…too bad for them.

  4. lucy says

    hmmn, this is interesting. the implication here is that steve and barrys do not trust us to come up with our own conclusions about the images. we need oprah and other designated media sources to spoonfeed information and their opinions about the line.

    i dont think steve and barrys understand what a blog is.

  5. mandeeuk says

    Their lawyer used a very silly approach and essentially contradicted him/herself in their cease and desist letter…they don’t advertise yet they have exclusive promotional deals with major media outlets??  Isn’t that advertising?

    Had they argued that they held the exclusive copyrights in these photos, as an IP lawyer, I would advise you to take the photos down.  But, based on the weak stance this lawyer set forth, by all means, keep them up!

  6. Randy Shapiro says

    While I do think this is bad PR for them to email you, you need to talk to an IP lawyer. Those images were not in the public domain, and you need to be clear on your definition of what that means :-) I love your blog, and I’d hate to see it (or you) sued into oblivion.

  7. Marija says

    I’d take them down. It is their company that is being scrutinized, and like anyone should when they want something, they are asking nicely. There’s nothing hostile or threatening about the letter. They don’t want to burn bridges.

    I’d give them a break. It’s easy to immediately lash out at big companies…it’s become a consumer instinct. But I think we’re a reasonable bunch here at BF, and there’s no need to push buttons or get all defensive.

    Believe me, I champion the cause of the people, and I am not a passive drone by any means imaginable. But I’m not hearing THE MAN here. I’m hearing a company that is trying to improve their image and appeal to consumers just like us. They NEED US. Isn’t that enough? To know we have all the power over the success of this campaign?

    Nevertheless, it’s really cool to hear everyone’s opinions, and to see that there are intelligent people reading and posting here.

    I love this website!

  8. Rachel says

    Don’t take them down!! They weren’t even nice in asking you to. They just assumed you took them from a password protected site. They need to get over it and use this to their advantage when they relaunch the site. Like yeah we know it sucked but look what we did now!!

  9. says

    No use crying over spilt milk.  What’s done is done, and they are trying to clean up a problem they didn’t properly control from the beginning.  There are ways to post photos so that people can’t easily link to them, which they must not have done, and if they didn’t want their photos on the web, they should not have put them there.If they wanted it exclusive, they shouldn’t have put the photos up.  (Duh!)  I think they are trying to change it all based on the response, but this is not the way to do it.  Heck, everyone understands making a mistake, or getting a bad review (who hasn’t made a fashion faux pas?) but to pretend that you (TBF) are the one at fault?  Uh uh.  Sorry.  Now they just have egg on their face.

  10. Mojo says

    No don’t take them down. Everyone should be able to express their opinions on the line whether they be positive or negative. If they don’t like it, tough.

  11. Anne says

    Did you check to see if that “letter” from the “Assistant General Counsel of Steve & Barry’s” (quotation marks mine) is legitimate?  I have never seen ANY communication from any lawyer or legal professional written like that.  Ever.  It doesn’t read as though it were written by a practicing attorney.  I bet it was written by someone posing as such (which is also a no-no in the legal world!).

    My thoughts on whether you should take the pictures down:  NO!  It’s your site and you can put up, and keep up, whatever you want.  If the pictures were in fact in the public domain, then you’ve done nothing wrong.  I’d check with your attorney about what you can do if that letter turns out not to have been written by S & B’s assistant general counsel.

  12. Jeanelle Ray says

    Here’s the thing:  if a girl is as cute as SJP, she would just look okay in these clothes…cause SJP is so cute she doesn’t need a lot of help.  My 17 year old granddaughter would look cute in them.,..but she can pull out something from Goodwill, without looking, and look cute.  The rest of us?  We need help.  I would wear the white pants, red stripe tee, with a denim jacket.  BUT since I have 3 similar pieces in my closet, I don’t need to buy Sarah’s.  I just got a cute idea.

  13. lisa says

    No, don’t take them down. They are just mad because the line is uninspired and boring. I’m sure Sara Jessica Parker would never wear these clothes. Not to mention, she probably had little to do with the design process other than lending her name for a hefty check. She also has a stylist for her shows, movies, and red carpet appearances. When you see her on the street she looks awful, so why should we buy her line anyway. You got these photos legally and they couldn’t even be bothered to address you by name. I would ignore them if I were you. You are doing your readers a service.

  14. says

    KF, Do not remove those pictures.  As long as they are legit, you have every right to post them.  The letter seems to be saying you did not receive the pictures in a legit fashion.  But you are saying you did.  So, if it’s legit, leave it up with no fear.  Your opinion is your opinion, and that’s why we read you.  In addition, you weren’t even that harsh.  You said some really nice things about SJP and said you would like to like the line.  And you always ask you readers opinions.  I really like your blog and hope you won’t change a thing.

  15. monica says

    Don’t take the pics down! It’s too late anyways, lots of people saw that this line is not good. It’s just not fashion forward.
    The reason I like this site is because you give your honest opinion. I like that. If you take down the pics, then you’d be like those tv shows that seem like they get paid to say something horrible looks awesome.Please don’t turn into one of those.

  16. Carmen says

    It would definitely affect the intregity of the entire concept of your website to remove these items.  By all means, please keep the post!!! Keep doing your thing girl, we depend on you…

  17. Sonia says

    Doesn’t make sense – they’re flat out lying in their letter by saying you took the pictures from a password protected site – so don’t even bother giving in to them.

  18. says

    As a PR person myself, I will first say that their public relations and legal tactics need some serious work, which you’ve touched on already.  It’s completely disingenuous to post as anyone other than yourself (hello, did they not hear of the Wal-Mart faux blog fiasco?!) and you’re right that they should at least reach out to you directly.

    However, IF it’s true that those pictures were leaked then it would be appropriate for you to take them down (common courtesy, perhaps?). If they weren’t leaked and they’re just doing damage control, then that’s another story…

  19. Cathy says

    That’s ridiculous! You got the photos legally and I think you should be able to keep them up. They are just trying to cover their asses because their clothing line sucks. I can’t believe they asked you to take them down. I agree with you that sending the letter “To Whom It May Concern” is lacking in taste and consideration.

  20. Texan Fashionista says

    You are the TBF and you and your readers have the right to an opinion as applied by the first amendment. 

    You have dedicated your site to opinions on fashion and budgets. To stifle your objective style would turn off your readers who believe that you are a non-biased, regular consumer with connections to the fashion world.

    It can’t be slander if it is true, right? It is a discussion forum and deserves to be posted, whether the product is good or bad.  Other sites have their integrity on the line (good housekeeping seal?), to give their honest evaluation of a product. I see you as no different.

  21. greenofbean says

    I definitely do not think that you should take them don’t think think you should take them down. This blog is supposed be a truthful, UNBIASED look at fashion. You shouldn’t have to cater to their wishes, thats like someone asking a journalist to not publish a story because it puts them in a bad light. Of course, this is probably done all the time in some form or another, but at least the journalists are bribed or have something at stake in the situation. So unless they give you some freebies for it, don’t do it.

  22. christal says

    Take the pictures down because they are ugly anyways and are messing up the beautiful website.  If they had received more positive responses then there never would have been a problem.

  23. Michelle says

    I personally do not like the stuff, I do not like them trying to push you around either.  I just dont know if this is a fight I would want to take on, Do you have legal counsil? What have they said?  Protect yourself first, we will understand what ever decision you make.  Protect yourself first.  It will not affect the integrity of the site to remove them, in my humble opinion.

  24. says

    I think you have every right to keep the pictures up, after all like you said, you weren’t the one who took them out of the password protected area of their site.  I don’t think Steve & Barry should get all bent out of shape over bloggers publishing their images either,  its not going to make or break their line.  The general public knows this isn’t their official release, and that’s what they are going to get critiqued on.  Love your blog by the way, I just found it and i’m going to follow it religiously!

  25. Lisa says

    No way! I agree that this is sour grapes, so to speak…had the reaction to the Bitten line been favorable (i.e., had the clothing looked to be “merchandise of such high quality,” to say nothing of design issues), Steve and Barry’s would be frothing at the mouth to get more images out there. They found out that their beloved “mass publicity” wasn’t working, so they’re feeling thwarted. Don’t take down the pictures!

  26. candace says

    yes take them down because if you for whatever reason had exclusive photos or content would you want them to be spread everywhere?  i actually don’t see what is the big deal.  everything you’re saying in your above statement sounds like you’re giving excuses & trying to justify unethical behavior.  especially since you already complied with “someone’s” request back in February to run news about the line in a blind item.

    if you didn’t know they were unauthorized pics at the time you posted them, but you do now, it is really in the interests of good karma – IN MY OPINION – that you take them off.

  27. dottcomm1 says

    if they didn’t want the public to get a hold of the pictures, they should have protected them (not allow others to copy them). the images can be locked with some code. they obviously don’t have great coders.

    don’t they realize that they’re getting bad press by writing to you? i would think it’s worse than a few people saying the line isn’t that hot.

    tbf – keep the pics up! steve & barry – hire better coders!

  28. says

    Definitely leave them up.  Your use of them is fair, and S&B’s has no legal ground to stand on.  We’ve all already seen them, so why take them down?

  29. andrea says

    I support the faction that says keep them up, unless they were serious when they said “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.” by giving you more photos prior to launch. Perhaps another solution would be simply to link to the myriad other sites that posted them as well (no to tattle, but to point out the web is a like hydra, for each head you cut off, more grow!)

  30. TBF says

    Here’s the problem- the issue is about controlling the message- not anything legal. For example. Neiman Marcus asked me to take down copyrighted photos, which I did, but I did write about the incident because I thought you as the readers had the right to know.

    In the case of S&B, they asked me to take photos which I got from the public domain (internet)-  not a password protected site. I already extended a professional courtesy of NOT writing about the line sooner (I was told that it wasn’t READY yet, so I waited). I am not sure how many long lead magazines would have waited four weeks to publish this info.

    As fashion bloggers, we always face a fight, with pr firms who don’t understand the reason why you, the reader, read us and not the monthlies (which by the way are desperately trying to recruit us bloggers to work with them and help them develop their blogs) and the fact that we’re not beholden to advertisers- even when we have ads on our sites.

    The success of a magazine is based upon how many ad pages it sells (subscriptions actually LOSES money for magazines). Many people I respect and love work with long lead magazines and it’s always a struggle for them to balance their journalistic integrity with the bottomline. Corporate doesn’t care that SJP line is uneventful- but they do care that S&B will spend ad dollars.

  31. says

    I can’t believe that attorneys for such a big outfit would selectively highlight ONE person, ONE blog and try to use their muscle to get the photos off the web that have already been “outted” for about a month. This is the silliest waste of time and an egregious misuse of legal muscle against the freedom of the press.

    I have posted about this on the LA Story and included Lesley Scott’s podcast.

    Sarah Jessica Parker shows us that she has no more style than any one of us—meaning that she gets to wear great things for free and she has stylist help to look fabulous—and that if we had the same opps, we would look equally fab.
    She’s just a regular girl and so her designs aren’t so spectacular. Whoopee. I am not going to buy it—maybe on sale?

    Stevie Wilson, The LA STORY

  32. says

    Kathryn,

    I also posted this comment at PR Couture—jeopordizing prior agreements with media outlets and clients should be taken seriously, however, the lawyer said: “We rely on mass publicity as our leading awareness builder.” Isn’t that what is happening with all of this viral marketing going on from this one picture? 😉

  33. says

    It would be best to talk to an attorney. Just because something is found on the internet does not mean it is, or has transformed into, a public domain item. Cetainly if the pictures really are not someone’s intellectual property I say leave them up, but the answer to whether someone else has rights to them is not clear cut. They very well might not be public domain. So I urge caution.

    (note: I am only providing a personal opinion, and not legal advice. My employment requires that I give that disclaimer)

  34. Maureen says

    Fight the powers that be! Keep the photo’s up. If they feel that their position has been compromised then go back and redesign the clothing line and do it better. Gee whiz much ado about not much at all.

  35. Nancy B. says

    I don’t think you should take them down.  If they were on a public web site – not a password-protected site, as the S&B lawyer’s letter says – they’re public.  Anyone can comment on them anywhere.  I think S&B are just pissed off because the reviews by TBF readers have been so overwhelmingly negative.

    Still, I would talk to a lawyer about it.  Better to be safe than sorry.

  36. Amanda says

    Do their attorneys realize what BAD publicity they’re getting by making such a big issue out of this? Do they think our opinions will be swayed because Oprah says the clothes are nice?

    You did nothing wrong by posting publicly-accessed pictures. You were, however, courteous to try and accomodate their requests.

    Personally, I don’t care if SJP came to my house herself with a bag of free samples—after all this I want nothing to do with her line of clothing.

  37. says

    I say take them down. 

    Support Sarah, give her a chance.  Maybe S&B are still rethinking a few items or will go with different pieces in the official launch.  I don’t like the line based on the pics you posted but maybe the pics you acquired are misrepresenting it. I want to see what S&B offically brings forward to base my decision off of.

  38. suz says

    Are you assuming that “the internet” is public domain? It’s not.

    I’d love for the photos to stand, but if it were me I’d check with my lawyer first. S&B has bigger pockets that TBF and if they want to make an example of someone you could have problems.

    Is “your clothes are boring and your PR is clueless” the contemporary version of “…and your mama dresses you funny”?

  39. TBF says

    Now the question is who leaked the password/photos in the first place? Was it someone at the magazine that had the “exclusive” or was it someone at Steve&Barry?

    If the photos were leaked by someone Steve &Barry had “exclusive” with and then that leaker released it to bloggers,  does that violate that company’s contract with S&B? If it does, then S&B should sue them- not fashion bloggers.

    Or another scenario is that it could have been leaked by someone inside of “Steve &Barry” either to generate buzz or just as a gossipy employee which, in that case is an internal problem. The buzz turned out not to be so great- so they decided to pull the old legal hat.

  40. says

    I work for a major PR firm, and we realize that marketing communication conventions have been completely turned on their head with the rise of blogging and social networking. You’re right in that no one can truly “control” the message anymore – and if Steve and Barry were smart they would monitor what consumers are saying online and tweak their marketing/product offering appropriately. (They should also proofread the letters their legal department sends out for punctuation gaffes; are you absolutely sure that’s a legitimate letter?)

    Bottom line: You shouldn’t have to take the photos down. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube once it’s out.

  41. Jen says

    This whole thing is very strange. Perhaps the weirdly casual letter is their attempt to ward off   an even bigger PR fiasco by appearing less threatening and legalistic?

    I’m sort of torn… I want to see the pictures, I like reading the editorial and reader comments, but I also do not understand how the photos have become “public domain” simply because they are on the internet. As far as I understand, copyright is maintained unless the creator releases it into the public domain. They want to control the message, as you say, but it seems they have the legal rights to do so. They’re inept and shoddy in their efforts, but I don’t think this sloppiness justifies ignoring this right and their ownership.

    As compromising the integrity of the site, I think what would compromise its integrity would be to alter editorial content. Taking down photos owned by someone else because they ask you to is not the same as taking down the criticism you’ve written, and I as much as I appreciate being able to see the pictures, I don’t think it’s our right to do so just because the photos were leaked. Certainly, there’s a lot about the system, the method and the way this has been handled that’s very poor and this will hurt them in the end. TBF, I think your reasoning and assessment of the situation are absolutely right, and the comments left along the same lines are pretty valid too. I just don’t see that any of that takes away their legal and ethical rights to the photos and asking to control their use.

    Thank you for asking our opinions; your site is great.

  42. says

    #### that. don’t take the pictures down, you didn’t do anything wrong by posting pictures that were public domain. I think that although SJP’s line bitten, is clearly targeted to a teen/tween market, we are free to express what we think about it. This is completely taking away our freedom of speech as bloggers.

    Keep the pictures. You’ve done nothing wrong, in fact they should send you a thank you letter for all the publicity bloggers give them. Shame!

    thanks for sharing that with us!!!!

  43. Michelle says

    Aren’t these photos marketing materials?  Since when do people try to keep marketing materials a secret?

    This is bogus.  Don’t take the pictures down!

  44. store says

    Oh it’s so dumb – whats the big secret? – do they want to sell clothing or not??
    Not letting the public see the pics does not make any sense ! They must be think the clothing is not very good if they do not want any one to view them.

  45. Justine says

    I don’t think you should take down the pictures. They were probably leaked on purpose & the ONLY reason the company would like them taken down is because of the negative press they have received. Perhaps the negative press will encourage them to make the product better or pull it completely. I wish I could ask SJP what the hell she was thinking when she signed on with them…*sigh*

  46. jacque says

    I think it is ethically wrong to keep the pictures up on the site.  I love this TBF and totally understand wanting to use the pictures, but they have the rights to these pictures and are asking nicely, so why be the bad guy in this situation?  It is not worth it.  You need to be the one on the right side and the right is to honor their kind request.  I think they are being giving in allowing you to use the one picture without purchasing rights to it.  I own my own company and have a website and have had to pay big bucks to use pictures of my own work because they were taken by a certain company or for the company that commissioned me.  They could very easily be pushy about this and even sue TBF and be in the right, but they are not being that way.  Besides, who wants to do anything to possibly hurt Sarah Jessica Parker and a line she is trying to make successful?  We LOVE her, right?  It is in your ethical best interest to take the pics down.  Business ethics are something every business needs to live up to, fashion industry or otherwise.

  47. Leksa says

    There is a little thing called The First Amendment, and there is a little thing called freedom of the press. Both of them say S&B can kiss your beautiful behind.
    However, there is also libel. And in order not to libel someone, you have to have evidence that support what you say. The photographs you published are your evidence.
    As to copyrighted images, those who say that it is possible to encrypt images so that they cannot be taken from a website are right. However, that can be circumvented by a smart hacker. Now, if you didn’t hack, or obtain them from a hacker, you have nothing to be afraid of.
    As for those who say “I would not want to publish information that was leaked”, how do you think journalists get information from the police, the government, politicians? Please, don’t be so naive.

  48. amy says

    I think you should take them down because they were leaked and should have not been allowed for non-insiders to view.

    As a fellow blogger and upcoming MKTG/PR pro I would not want to publish information that was leaked. How would you feel if someone published confidential information about you.

    I lost respect for you for not taking it down.

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