Everyone in Copenhagen knows her; the little mermaid is a national treasure in the eyes of many people. It is the ultimate symbol of the Danish capital.
There is only one small detail that most people do not know: you have to pay royalties to use a photograph of it to illustrate its national tax status.
And Berlingske’s editor-in-chief has just learned that the hard way.
The Eastern High Court had already ruled that the newspaper had to pay compensation of 300,000 kroner for having twice used the statue’s image. One of them was in a cartoon!
A city court had previously set the payment at 285,000, and now the Supreme Court has upheld the fine of 300,000.
This is good news for the heirs of Edvard Eriksen, who created the sculpture between 1909 and 1913.
Not a first
This case is actually just one of many. The Eriksen clan are experts in asking for royalties.
Eriksen’s work, which died in 1959, is protected for 70 years after his death.
His heirs will lose their rights to royalties in 2029, after which the image of the little mermaid will be publicly available. Until then, they are free to ask for royalties from anyone who uses the statue’s image when it is not an integral part of the story.
Laws that apply (almost) everywhere
The laws protecting works of art are enshrined in international treaties and conventions.
This means that if you commercially use a picture of a monument outside Denmark, you may end up being asked for royalties.
A good example of this is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. If you photograph it during the day, there is no problem. At night, however, the copyright for the light work dates back only to 1985.
Source: The Nordic Page
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