Copyright Cops Go After Town For Creating Little Mermaid Statue

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?

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