Copyright Cops Go After Town For Creating Little Mermaid Statue

from the cultural-artifacts dept

Dan sends in yet another story about copyright gone wrong. Apparently the small town of Greenville Michigan has a strong Danish heritage, and wanted to show that off with some artifact representing Denmark. It chose the iconic Little Mermaid statue, based on Hans Christian Andersen's story, and a similar iconic statue in Denmark. Apparently, however, the family of the artist who created the statue in Denmark is trying to clamp down and is demanding a lump sum payment or that the statue be taken down. The actual artist died in 1959... but thanks to recent extensions in copyright (yippee), copyright now lasts life plus seventy years.

Of course, I'm wondering if the statue even violates the copyright at all. While the town says it was inspired by the one in Denmark, the actual statue is different:
At about 30 inches high, it's half the size of the original and has a different face and other distinct features, including larger breasts. "We've gotten a lot of heat about that too," he says
Considering that so much of the statue is different, is it even a copyright violation at all? Apparently, this isn't the only town that's faced problems over such statues. The article notes, amusingly, that Vancouver, British Columbia -- after failing to get permission from the artist's estate -- instead put up a statue entitled "Girl in a Wetsuit" and even added swimming fins and goggles to get the point across. It's hard to believe that this one artist, whose been dead for fifty years, should have total control over statues of mermaids, but that's what today's copyright law gives us. Isn't it great?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:33pm

    No

     

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    garfalk (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    and some people STILL want MORE copyright? outrageous.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:10pm

    descendants of Mr. Eriksen == douche bags

     

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    johhney, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    assuming this implies the statues were all named "little mermaid", or worse yet modeled after the original, I suppose actually having ones own creative ability to name it something else/or choose your own theme would have avoided any conflict of interest. I agree with this lawsuit after reading this-lol

    The statue in Copenhagen is itself a copy; the original has been attacked repeatedly -- pieces stolen, arm cut off, painted pink, draped in a burqa -- and is now stored in a secret location

     

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      Sarah Black, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:53pm

      Re:

      So johhney, by your own words, no one should ever be inspired by something they appreciate? ...they also should not ever use that inspiration with a bit of their own creativity to make something slightly "different", or perhaps, "better"?

      You are basically saying that "Innovation by others should never happen".

       

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      PRMan, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 8:32pm

      Re:

      "the original has been attacked repeatedly -- pieces stolen, arm cut off, painted pink, draped in a burqa -- and is now stored in a secret location"

      I can see why... That was my first inclination after reading this story...

       

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      dp, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:23pm

      Re:

      Ya, aside from the provocative mention of the family taking a cash soother, this makes sense to me -- redoing the Little Mermaid with bigger boobs is in poor taste and sometimes people need to be reminded that they're crossing the line. I mean, lampooning the statue is one thing, but attempting to steal a little of the karma of the original while sexing it up is ...

       

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    Dan, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:52pm

    Melt that sucker down and sculpt a greedy Dane statue in its place.

     

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    wheels4me2 (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:29pm

    We had a Mermaid of Copenhagen statue in our front yard since I was a kid in the 1960s. Never entered our minds that it would be a copyright violation 40 years later.

    When will the madness stop?

     

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    Christopher, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:20am

    Withdrawn

    It appears that the claim has been withdrawn now:

    Mermaid Freed

     

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      Michial Thompson, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 5:16am

      Re: Withdrawn

      The madness will stop when fools stop thinking music is a god given right to be free and fools stop taking other people's ideas and copying them....

      This blog is as much of the problem as anything

       

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        CleverName, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:17am

        Re: Re: Withdrawn

        "The madness will stop when ... fools stop taking other people's ideas and copying them...."

        Ideas?

        This is new. I was unaware that one could copyright, patent or trademark and IDEA.

        Interesting. When did this occur? Because I have ideas every day, lots of them in fact. I am infringing and didn't even know it - Yikes!

         

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    God, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:21am

    Re: Michial Thompson

    Bullshit.

    Try and convince my child that he should have to pay for something that was made in the 1950's. He was born in the 21st century. There is no going back to the analogue world.

     

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      Michial Thompson, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:38am

      Re:

      No need to convince anyone of anything... The Laws are the Laws, and pissing and moaning about them from those that create nothing is going to do nothing to change them.

      Those of us that work at creating stuff will always expect fools like you and your son to pay for our work. We will also gladly pay a few dollars to take your stupid ass to court if you insist on taking our income from us.

      Cry all you want, but in the end all the piracy is going to do is shift the penalties from being civil (monetary) to being criminal (time in jail).

      When fools inist on breaking the laws because all they have to do is file for bankruptcy to get out of paying what is court ordered the next logical step is to legislate it to a criminal status so that the same fools will learn.

       

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        DMNTD, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re: shovel enough manure?

        Hey, the little mermaid is actually a a living creature with intelligence and perhaps a guy so everyone is infringing even the "original" creator lol.

        You will not be fed TROL..uh Michial!!

        BTW you represent nothing and no one so leave "those of us" out of your bait..good day.

         

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        CleverName, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:51am

        Re: Re:

        Michial, you're kind of an ass aren't you?

        Jail time for copyright infringement? Are you serious or just being a loud mouth jerk? Or possibly, you are a stock holder in a for profit company that runs prisons. In any case, a war on piracy (copyright infringement) is doomed to failure just like the war on poverty, war on drugs, etc the list goes on. Many states are in the process of letting prisoners out early because they do not have the funds to keep them there. Are you in favor of increasing everyones taxes in order to fund this crusade?

        Do you even think about the spew that emanates from your keyboard In the future, please attempt to think these things through before deciding what all the rest of us should be doing - ok?

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 1:41pm

        Re: Re:

        Criminal status for copyright infringement? Jee-sus.

         

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        zcat (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:45pm

        Re: Re:

        "In the No need to convince anyone of anything... The Laws are the Laws, and pissing and moaning about them from those that create nothing is going to do nothing to change them. "

        Or perhaps I should parody your statement?

        In the end, breaking the 55mph speed limit is only going to shift the penalties from fines to jail time.

        In the end, all this bootlegging is going to do is put more distillers and rum-runners in prison.


        Or to quote Cory Doctrow (because I can; it's so great that I can pretty freely copy his ideas without fear of getting sued!) "before the radio and the record came along the only way that people made money from making music was by standing in a hall and being charismatic. The fact is, technology giveth and technology taketh away. What was the business model in 1909 may be the business model in 2009. What was the business model in 1939 may not be the business model in 2007. That's how it goes."

         

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    mhenriday (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Greenville, Michigan can consider itself lucky

    that the town has not yet heard from the Walt Disney Company's lawyers - after all, didn't they do an animated film (very loosely) based on Hans Christian Andersen's Den lille Havfrue some years back ? In these later days, when one's thinking is subject to control by copyright, the town is really challanging the fates !...

    Henri

     

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    identicon
    NullOp, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:01am

    Question

    Ask the Danes if the letters FO mean anything to them!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Michial doesn't own stock in a for-profit company that runs prisons, but he does make a profit from for-profit companies that run prisons. This is from his website...

    Justice Software Solutions is owned by Michial Thompson. We are dedicated to providing Quality Software at Affordable Prices for the Law Enforcement, Corrections and Justice Community.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      The "Justice System" has absolutely nothing to do about Justice. It is simply a for profit business, and as you can see, Michaels position is one of profiting from this.

       

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      Michial Thompson, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 3:08pm

      Re:

      Yes I make money from Law Enforcement, and more importantly from Software that I have written. Yes I have a stake in keeping IP laws on the books, and no I do not feel my work should be made available for free.

      So now that the air is clear what's your point in pointing out my website?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 3:50pm

        Re: Re:

        No matter how much lipstick you put on....

         

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        CleverName, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:20am

        Re: Re:

        Michial,

        In a prior post you suggest that society should put more people in prison. This was done with a tone of rightous indignation.

        Then, a different poster, points out that you potentially stand to gain from this stance.

        And you ask, "what's your point"

         

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      MadJo (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      I'd be careful if I were you... you could get sued for copyright infringement because you quoted a part of the website.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 10:39am

        Re: Re:

        I'd be careful if I were you... you could get sued for copyright infringement because you quoted a part of the website.

        Then if Michial had his way, he could profit twice: first when he sues him, then again when he goes to prison. Oh boy, happy days are here again!

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 10:36am

    i am actually in awe at the stupidity that surrounds us in this world these days. As a father of small children, i am scared of what the world will be like when get to be my age if things like this continue.



    Im not saying that stupidity should be a capitol crime, im just saying lets pull the warning labels off everything and let the problem solve itself

     

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    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Never said

    I never said that it SHOULD be a criminal charge to violate copyrights. My statement was that if fools like those that blatently post on here continue to flaunt their violations, then it is inevitable that it WILL become criminal.

    Facts are it would probably be better if it was criminal. At least then groups like the RIAA would have to have real PROOF, and they couldn't use the underhanded techniques that they currently use. Also if it was criminal there would be set penalties instead of arbitrary ones.

    But in either case criminal or civil, the idiots flaunting their copying of music, and the fools that either indirectly or directly promote their actions are only going to make the legislation worse, not better.

    The musician has the right to decide how they want their music distributed. If they choose to sign with a label for distribution, then they give that right of choice over to the label. If either choses that they only want their music sold on CD or even 8-track for that matter, then it's the consumer's responsibility to choose to buy it that way or not at all. The consumer has no right to get to that music in any other fashion.

    You can cry all you want about how the record labels need a new business model or how the musicians get screwed, but you have no right to download music if that isn't one of the chosed distribution paths.

    And you have LESS of a right to try to force any business or person to change their models just because you don't like it.

    If you want to see the business models of these companies change, then stop consuming their products. If you illegally download their product you are still consuming it, just depriving them of revenue. If you distribute it without permission you are only perpetuating the problem.

    As long as their is a demand for the products that they offer they will remain in business and keep their business models the same as they are today. If you demonstrate a demand by illegally downloading their products then you only instigate them going after you under the law.

    EVEN if you buy a CD from musician directly who uses one of these labels you are only demonstrating a demand for the music they are producing.

    Changing the law or crying about the law is like pissing into the wind, it will come right back at you and you won't like what you get. Congress has NEVER made a law better by passing more laws. All they manage to do is make it worse.

    If you stop consuming music from these labels, and stop downloading the music giving them an excuse latch onto for their business models you will either change them or put them out of business, and you will take away the funds that they are using to go after you legally. Breaking the law only defeats the purpose by giving them something to cry about.

     

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      Ben Zayb, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 2:40pm

      Re: Never said

      "The musician has the right to decide how they want their music distributed. If they choose to sign with a label for distribution, then they give that right of choice over to the label. If either choses that they only want their music sold on CD or even 8-track for that matter, then it's the consumer's responsibility to choose to buy it that way or not at all. The consumer has no right to get to that music in any other fashion."

      There is a matter of "fair use".

      If I buy a musician's CD directly from him or from his label, I have a right to make copies of the CD's contents. I have the right to move those copies that I made to use in devices that I own. I have the right to distribute those copies, to family and friends, as long as the distribution is of a personal and non-commercial nature.

      "...but you have no right to download music if that isn't one of the chosed distribution paths."

      I have every right to download music from systems of people who I personally know and who give me access to their systems. If my wife, who is in Nepal, has a copy of Nativity In Black and I can download if from her computer through HTTP or through FTP, there's nothing Ozzy can do about it when I choose to download the song.

      I have every right to open my own system to my own kids, siblings, cousins and friends and allow them to download songs from my own collection.

      Personal, non-commercial use is fair use.

      The problem that record labels and deluded artists face now is that, with today's mechanisms, the meaning of "personal" has changed that it's become very disadvantageous to their aging business and distribution models. This is not their fault but this is also not the doing of the general public. Yet these labels and artists would tax us all because they cannot cope with change.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 10:50am

      Re: Never said

      And you have LESS of a right to try to force any business or person to change their models just because you don't like it.

      So, who's using force? If you want to around making a claim like that, then you need to provide some evidence for it. Otherwise take your straw man and shove it.

       

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    identicon
    Dan, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 4:02pm

    Bigger boobs

    So, make the boobs MUCH bigger and call it a satire piece...

     

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    Azuravian, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 10:30pm

    @Michial I never said that it SHOULD be a criminal charge to violate copyrights. My statement was that if fools like those that blatently post on here continue to flaunt their violations, then it is inevitable that it WILL become criminal.
    Facts are it would probably be better if it was criminal. At least then groups like the RIAA would have to have real PROOF, and they couldn't use the underhanded techniques that they currently use. Also if it was criminal there would be set penalties instead of arbitrary ones.


    I'm confused. First you say that you never said it SHOULD be a criminal charge. Then you say it would be better if it was. If something would make things better, isn't that what SHOULD be?

     

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      Michial Thompson, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      I'll sum it up, first off I do not THINK that Infringement should be Criminal. I do feel that the penalties need to be STIFF and need to be CONSISTANT. In otherwords making one person pay $22k per song and another $78k per song needs to be changed. But the penalty needs to be high enough to also stop others.

      What I was saying about making it criminal is that it would be better than the current system because the penalties would be more consistant, if not 100% consistant because it would most likely be a flat fine per song. By making it criminal the person commiting the infringement would also have an incentive NOT to do it by not wanting it appearing on their record.

      The system is broken, that I agree with. But abolishing copyright is not the answer, but neither is the ongoing theft of revenue from companies and individuals that rightfully have earned that revenue through the investment of their money, time and efforts.

       

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        nasch (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re:

        $78K per song isn't deterring people, and you think a higher amount will be effective? More severe penalties have little deterrent effect. What really works is when getting caught is highly likely. There are just way too many infringers to make that viable, whether it's a civil matter or criminal, so these businesses would be better off ensuring they're not vulnerable to copyright infringement.

        There's also a valid argument that if so many people break the law because they don't think it makes sense, the law should be examined with an eye to reducing or abolishing it. Copyright law is supposed to be about benefiting society, not just a tiny minority.

         

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    John85851 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    Where's Disney is all this

    When Disney made The Little Mermaid movie in 1989 (and the TV show, and sequels, and so on), didn't they sign a license agreement of some kind with the Hans Christian Anderson estate? So does Disney really want people putting up statues that could "tarnish" their brand? Sure, the statue may not look like the characters from the movie, but in these days of copyrights, could a moron in a hurry think the statue is somehow licensed or approved by Disney?
    Or, more realistically, will a child wonder why the statue doesn't look the mermaid-character she saw on her DVD?

     

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      Chris in Utah (profile), Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 4:27pm

      Re: Where's Disney is all this

      Where's Disney? They are probably still reeling from the phallus on the cover of the Tape Cover not the DVD cover.

      Wonder if that's cause to patent the penis? Look out Dr. Johns suppliers!

      As to can't patent an idea #16. Agreed we "shouldn't" but we still do. Look at the first real distributed media; the Bible.

       

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    Fernando Bresslau, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Earning revenue

    "... theft of revenue from companies and individuals that rightfully have earned that revenue through the investment of their money, time and efforts."

    Sorry, Michail. You only earn revenue, when another party pays you for your efforts/investments/raw material.

    Revenue is not a right, is a consequence. Companies will earn revenues when their offerings, regardless of how much effort or material goods they have invested, are relevant for second party. And many music labels have lost their relevancy.

    And the discussion about demand misses the point completely. Nobody has and nobody will ever stop consuming music just because it is not distributed digitally.

     

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      Ben Zayb, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 2:46pm

      Re: Earning revenue

      "Revenue is not a right, is a consequence."

      A simple truth that most tools don't understand. Projected income is not actual income. But one can only steal what is actual; and if there is no stealing, there is no theft.

       

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    simon, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Horray

    Give a candy-bar to the lawyer who came up with this law suit

    then beat him senseless and send him home to his momma to cry a little

    this is not the way the copyright law is supposed to be applied, next case please !

     

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    Valkor, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Artistic inspiration

    "...the Artists Rights Society -- a New York-based organization that enforces copyrights on behalf of artists, including Andy Warhol..."

    Maybe someone should tell that society that Warhol made his name basing his art directly off of other popular culture images. A sculpture inspired by the Copenhagen mermaid surely deserves its own recognition, just as a painting of a soup can does.

     

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    Sheinen, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 2:45am

    Good point about Warhol - Campbells would have sued his ass off today!

    If I take a photo of someone elses photo which one of us has the copyright? I created an original image of another original image, so...?

    Michial. Stop preaching such random garbage at people who have little respect for your opinion - and it is an opinion so jump off that horse, it's a little too high.

    The fact is that while a cheaper, easier and faster way of accessing media exists it will continue to be used. If the producers of that media have failed to make that method of distribution profitable then they are at fault.

    If movie producers refused to embrace DVD's would we all still be stuck on VHS today, even though the technology is readily available, cheaper and better?

     

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    Wolfy, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    It has BREASTS?!? I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!

     

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    Leanne, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Who owns the copyright to the little mermaid?

     

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    jillanne, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    DP, seriously. The boobs are not all huge and hanging out there like you are suggesting. If both statues were the same size, the anatomy in question would be bigger on the replica. I used to live in Greenville, Michigan, I've seen the statue, and I did not notice the size of the breasts. They looked normal for goodness sake, use a bit of bloody common sense.

     

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