Last summer, Clear Channel Outdoor threatened to sue the Toronto Public Space Committee; last week Astral Media Outdoor threatened to sue Rami Tabello and his IllegalSigns.ca. That left one bidder for the “street furniture” contract with a relatively fuck-up-free slate.
“Some people are blessed with intelligence; some people are blessed with good looks; others, with personality,” Tabello wrote on Wednesday. “Then there’s Nick Arakgi of CBS Outdoor. He’s blessed with having competitors that are idiots.”
Not surprisingly, we just weren’t looking hard enough.
Take a good gaze at CBS’s “Postering Structures” at left and right. See anything odd? Yup, it seems they integrated — as a “poster” — the cover of the fall 2006 issue of Spacing magazine. Without permission, of course.
On the first level, it’s copyright infringement; at least Astral changed the font of Reg Hartt’s “AYN RAND” poster before using it in their designs. On the second level, it puts at risk the reputation of Spacing as a credible and objective publication. But on the third, it borders on fraudulent, implying an endorsement of CBS’s proposal by Toronto’s most influential tastemakers of urban aesthetics.
Spacing Publisher Matt Blackett is fairly diplomatic in his Wire post on the matter, but the letter he sent to CBS Outdoor is more direct and assertive in demanding that the images be removed and an apology be issued. For its part, the (unaffiliated-since-2004) Toronto Public Space Committee will be filing a complaint with Ontario Integrity Commissioner Justice Coulter A. Osborne, who has been hired by the City to serve as the “Fairness Commissioner” for the “street furniture” project. The TPSC believes that the implied endorsement may have given CBS an unfair advantage with respect to the Design Jury’s and staff’s evaluation of the proposal. And seeing as the final staff report recommending a “winner” may be released as early as this week, it is likely that there will be no opportunity for the jury and staff to reassess the proposal; therefore, CBS should be disqualified.
This is only the latest street furniture scandal. More are here, here, and here. And those are on top of the aforementioned lawsuit threats. And the illegal billboards. And the shitty designs. As you can expect, there’s much more to come…
Images of two of CBS’s “postering structures” taken from their brochure. There is also a third shelter-like one on which the Spacing cover again appears.