• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
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

The Local · 16 Aug 2014, 10:18

Published: 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.
 
Story continues below…
“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 news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
When the Village Vanguard came to Denmark
Dexter Gordon was one of several US jazz musicians to settle in Denmark. Photo: Tom Marcello/Flickr

A tale of migration and jazz in 1960s Copenhagen.

Roskilde Festival 2016
The Local's not-quite-live Roskilde 2016 blog
Tenacious D with Jack Black, Kyle Gass and Satan himself closed the Orange stage on Thursday night. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix 2016

We're posting updates all week as a field in Roskilde is temporarily turned in to the fourth largest city in Denmark.

Experience Denmark the Danish way – by bike
Denmark's small size and beautiful nature make it ideal for a cycling holiday. Photo: Niclas Jessen/VisitDenmark

The combination of exercise, culture and nature compressed into a small area makes Denmark the ideal place for a cycling holiday.

Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
File photo of volunteers awaiting arriving migrants at Copenhagen Central Station. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix

UPDATED: A total of 79,600 kroner was seized from five Iranian nationals.

Opinion
Stop trashing your city, Copenhagen residents!
This is not a garbage can! Photo: Louis Volpe

Denmark and its capital have a lot to be proud of, but the way residents treat the entire city like a rubbish bin is not one of them, writes American expat Louis Volpe.

Danish bankers eye Brexit cash-in
File photo: Vladimir Wrangel/Iris/Scanpix

Experts in the Danish finance industry have called for changes to tax laws so that Denmark can take advantage of a potential banking exodus from London following last week's Brexit vote.

Dejlige Days Welcome
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Learning Danish will open up personal and professional opportunities. Photo: william87/Iris/Scanpix

Relocation expert Melanie Haynes offers up her eight top reasons for why you should at least make an effort to learn the local language.

Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
Some 200,000 Danes living abroad could be impacted by the new rule. Photo: Iris

Danes and their foreign spouses will now have a much harder time living in Denmark.

Danish students and caps: What’s all the noise about?
Thousands of young students have taken to the streets of Denmark wearing their caps. Photo: Knud Erik Christensen/Colourbox

During the month of June, Danish towns are overtaken by jubilant young adults wearing assorted styles of graduation caps (studenterhuer). The Local brings you a guide to what the caps mean, their history and significance to the class of 2016.

Photo gallery
Devil horns up! A photo journey through Copenhell
Copenhell was completely sold out for the first time ever. Photo: Philip B. Hansen

The Local joined the headbanging masses at this year's Copenhell heavy metal festival to bring you this devilish photo report.

Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
National
Denmark scraps green card but spares current holders
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Society
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
National
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
National
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
National
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
Travel
The second best destination in all of Europe is...
Sport
We are the champions! Denmark wins world badminton team title
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
National
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
Society
Strangest political story in Denmark just got stranger
International
Keeping Denmark in Europol 'maybe impossible'
Analysis & Opinion
Green card holders tell Denmark to keep its promise
National
Denmark picks F-35 in historic jet purchase
Society
Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness
National
Danish minister tells 'Sharia' troublemakers to 'get a job'
Culture
Danish 'martyr' exhibit reported to police
2,283
jobs available