• Denmark edition
 
Denmark's icon... that we can't show you
Only with the use of the Photoshop do we dare publish this photo, and even then we are nervous about it. Original photo: Colourbox

Denmark's icon... that we can't show you

Published: 16 Aug 2014 10:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Aug 2014 10:18 GMT+02:00

Earlier this week, The Local reported that Seoul’s mayor wants a miniature version of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue for his own city. 
 
Rather than illustrate the photo with a beautiful picture of the sculpture – thousands of which can be found all over the internet – we chose a photo in which the famous landmark was surrounded by tourists and thus not the main focus of the image. 
 
There was a reason for that. The family of sculptor Edvard Eriksen is known for being very aggressive about the sculpture’s copyright and numerous Danish media outlets have received a large bill in the mail for using a photo of the Little Mermaid – even though it is arguably the most recognisable image in all of Denmark. 
 
The newspapers Politiken, Berlingske and the now-closed Nyhedsavisen have all been fined for using an image of the Little Mermaid. Berlingske had to pay 10,000 kroner ($1,800) for using a photo of the statue in connection with a 2005 story on Denmark’s tourism industry. 
 
“We used a photo without asking for permission. That was apparently a clear violation of copyright laws, even though I honestly have a hard time understanding why one can’t use photos of a national treasure like the Little Mermaid without violating copyright laws,” Berlingske’s photo editor, Søren Lorentzen, told the journalism trade magazine Journalisten in 2007. 
 
David Trads, a political commentator for TV2 and an occasional contributor to The Local, was fined twice for using a photo of the Little Mermaid while editor-in-chief for Nyhedsavisen. 
 
“It’s absurd that some lazy heirs should make a fortune on a little statue that sits out in the sea,” he told Journalisten. 
 
The copyright laws stipulate that photos of the Little Mermaid and other public art cannot be used for business purposes when the artwork is the main focus of the photo. Use in media is considered a ‘business purpose’ under the law. There are exceptions for using the photos if there is a clear ‘news context’ but even then many Danish outlets are hesitant to use the Little Mermaid for fear of an unexpected bill. 
 
That hesitation was on display last week in connection with the Seoul story. It wasn’t just The Local that decided not to publish a portrait of the Little Mermaid. At Politiken, they used a photo of a tourist posing nearby, Ekstra Bladet used a photo in which the statue was out of focus, Danmarks Radio used a photo packed with tourists, while other outlets ran no photo at all
 
The chairman of the press photographers’ association Pressefotografforbundet said it was “a bit grotesque” that the Danish media needs to be so careful about using photos of the Little Mermaid.
 
“As photographers, we have great respect for copyright, which we ourselves benefit from. But the Little Mermaid is maybe the most frequently photographed motif in Copenhagen so it’s a bit grotesque that you need to be so careful using the photo editorially,” Lars Lindskov told Politiken last year in a story about the copyright issues (which was illustrated with this photo). 
 
Alice Eriksen, the granddaughter of the original sculptor, defended the family’s practice by telling Politiken they were “just following the country’s laws”.
 
“It’s the same as receiving royalties when a song is played,” she said. 
 
The Eriksen family has declined to say how much money they make off of royalties from the Little Mermaid. 

For more stories about Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Legalise facial tattoos: Social Liberals
Mike Tyson's tattoo would be illegal in Denmark, but who would have the courage to tell him? Photo: Eduardo Merille/Flickr

Legalise facial tattoos: Social Liberals

"This is about an individual’s right to decide," the party's chairman of the board said in throwing support behind the 50-year-old ban on tattooing faces, hands and necks. READ  

Indian summer drawing to an end
The view from Dronning Louises Bro on Wednesday. Photo: Justin Cremer

Indian summer drawing to an end

The weekend will begin warm and dry but by the time Monday rolls along, autumn conditions will be the norm. READ  

Over a dozen babies infected with MRSA
All of the parents of the infected children work with pigs. Photo: Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr

Over a dozen babies infected with MRSA

In light of revelations that at least 13 children whose parents work in the swine industry have been infected with MRSA, a leading expert calls the authorities' approach 'unsustainable'. READ  

Accused Dane in NYC can leave house arrest
A 22-year-old Dane charged with sex crimes has been allowed to take off his ankle monitor. Photo: Colourbox.

Accused Dane in NYC can leave house arrest

Danish Malthe Thomsen, who is accused of sexually abusing 13 children, has been released from home confinement in New York City. READ  

Car2go coming to Copenhagen
Thousands are already sharing these small Smart Fortwos in Europe and in the US. Photo: Daimler

Car2go coming to Copenhagen

City dwellers sharing eco-friendly cars should be right up the green capital’s alley, but the City Council has no plans to collaborate with Car2go. READ  

Odense tracking homeless with GPS
Homeless may not be as hard to track as dementia patients. Photo: Colourbox

Odense tracking homeless with GPS

A GPS tracking system used for wandering dementia patients has been fitted on homeless volunteers, in order to improve city planning for those living on the streets. READ  

Copenhagen is a relatively cheap capital
When it comes to expensive apartments, Copenhageners are not as bad off as they think. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix

Copenhagen is a relatively cheap capital

Studies find that housing prices in the Danish capital are reasonable compared to other cities in Scandinavia and western Europe. READ  

Highest refugee influx in 20 years
Syrian family of refugees in Istanbul. Photo: Bulent Kilic/Scanpix

Highest refugee influx in 20 years

With asylum numbers rising in August and September, immigration services predict that 2014 will see the highest flow of refugees since the Bosnian War. READ  

Banner year for Danish apples and pears
These apples come from The Local's backyard and we can attest that they sure are tasty.

Banner year for Danish apples and pears

The right weather combinations have created the perfect conditions for growing fruit that is sweeter, bigger and crispier than normal. READ  

Two Danish universities among world's top 100
The University of Copenhagen. Photo: Colourbox

Two Danish universities among world's top 100

Led by the University of Copenhagen, two schools are among the top 100 globally, according to new rankings. The minister for higher education tells The Local that strong universities are a key to the nation's success. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Ticket Giveaway! See English-language comedians in Copenhage
Culture
Ticket Giveaway! See English-language comedians in Copenhagen
Denmark's icon... that we can't show you
National
Denmark's icon... that we can't show you
Denmark 'high on Isis's list': Danish jihadist
International
Denmark 'high on Isis's list': Danish jihadist
What makes Danish TV so cool?
Culture
What makes Danish TV so cool?
Denmark's public schools enter a new era
Education
A new era for Denmark's public schools
Why Denmark’s health service needs treatment
Opinion
Why Denmark’s health service needs treatment
Danish art project deemed racist by Swedes
Culture
Danish art project slammed as "racist" by Swedes
No entry!
Opinion
Denmark: The land of no entry (for Muslims)
Danes voted 'least beautiful' in Scandinavia
Society
Is Denmark the ugly stepsister of Scandinavia?
Danish happiness is all in the genes
Society
The secret to Danish happiness is finally revealed
Hans Christian Andersen letter reveals heartbreak
Culture
Hans Christian Andersen letter reveals his lasting heartbreak
Denmark to look at decriminalising drugs
National
Denmark to look at decriminalising drugs
Copenhagen's new cycling bridge opens
Travel
Copenhagen's new cycling bridge opens
Being an expat in Copenhagen costs dearly
Business & Money
Copenhagen is the most expensive city in the north
Jobs: 'Denmark supports creative types'
Business & Money
My Danish Career: 'Denmark supports creative types'
Look at all those guns
National
Europe's biggest gun store opening in Denmark
The Killing jumper case
Culture
Danish firm cleared in Killing jumper court case
VIDEO: 'Denmark will definitely legalize weed'
Society
VIDEO: 'Denmark will definitely legalize weed'
Christiansborg tower open for visitors
Travel
Take in Copenhagen from a new vantage point
10 signs you've been in Denmark too long
Features
10 signs you've been in Denmark too long
The first minaret in Denmark
National
Denmark's first 'real' mosque opens amid controversy
Scandinavia Standard's introduction to Danish design
Culture
Danish design: Artistry meets functionality
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Politics
WikiLeaks reports the FBI to Danish police
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

215
jobs available