• 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
Danes acquitted of aiding 2015 Copenhagen attacker
The trial of the four men was held under heavy security in Copenhagen. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Four men accused of helping a Copenhagen gunman who killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard were acquitted on terror charges.

Danish kids among the fittest in the world: study
The study compared kids' 20m shuttle run times. Photo: Mikkel Zibrandtsen/Flickr

Danish kids have some of the highest level of aerobic fitness in the world, according to a recently-released international study.

Copenhagen police arrest teen as car fires continue
Firefighters extinguish a car fire in Valby over the weekend. Photo: Mathias Øgendal/Scanpix

UPDATED: A 17-year-old has been charged in connection with one of the 11 new fires over the weekend.

Danish nationalists hand out cans of 'refugee spray'
The party said it distributed more than 100 cans of its 'refugee spray'. Photo: Daniel Carlsen/ Danskernes Parti

The nationalist Danes’ Party elicited strong reactions went it took to the streets of Haderslev to hand out cans of what it called ‘refugee spray’.

Video
Metallica to open new Copenhagen arena
Metallica's James Hetfield at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in New York City's Central Park on Saturday. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Scanpix

Copenhagen’s coming multi-purpose arena will be opened in grand style with two nights of shows with the legendary band.

Melting Greenland ice could expose Cold War waste
If the ice melt is no longer offset by snowfall, toxic chemicals could start leaking into the environment. Photo: an-Morten Bjørnbakk / Scanpix

A snow-covered former US army base in Greenland -- dubbed "a city under ice" -- could leak pollutants into the environment as the climate changes, raising difficult questions over who is responsible for a clean-up.

Denmark’s asylum numbers at five-year low
Refugees and immigrants at a 'welcome party' earlier this month. Photo: Uffe Weng/Scanpix

Fewer than 300 people sought asylum in August, according to new figures released by the Immigration Ministry.

Police cameras in Pusher Street promptly torn down
Two police video cameras were installed in Christiania on Friday and more will come, police said. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Copenhagen Police on Friday installed surveillance cameras in the infamous stretch of Christiania, but they lasted only a few hours.

Denmark leads effort to stop money flow to Isis
File photo of children next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Isis in Mosul, Iraq . Photo: Stringer/Reuters/Scanpix

A former head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) has been tapped to dry up the terror group's finances.

Meet Denmark's new anti-immigration party
Nye Borgerlige's Pernille Vermund and Peter Seier Christensen held a press conference on Thursday after qualifying for the next election. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix 2016)

A new political party that promises a stricter immigration policy than the Danish People’s Party combined with a libertarian economic outlook will be on the ballot the next time Denmark holds an election.

Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
International
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Copenhagen declared world's most livable city - again!
Record number of Danes leave the church
Society
Record number of Danes leave the church
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
National
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Society
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
National
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Analysis & Opinion
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
National
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
National
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Society
Expats: Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Business & Money
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
2,235
jobs available