Military ordered to pay for using iconic wartime image

The longstanding dispute over who owns the rights to a famous image from Sweden’s war-time propaganda campaigns is over.

Military ordered to pay for using iconic wartime image

The Armed Forces have been ordered to pay 700,000 kronor ($106,000) in damages for having used the image, known as ‘En Svensk Tiger’, for 27 years without permission.

The graphic originated from a well-known Swedish public information campaign carried out during World War Two. The title of the work served as the campaign’s motto, playing off the double meaning of the phrase.

In Swedish, ‘En Svensk Tiger’ can mean ‘A Swedish Tiger’ as well as ‘A Swede keeps his mouth shut’.

It was the latter definition which Sweden used to warn its citizens against revealing defence secrets during wartime, while the previous meaning was preserved in artist and children’s author Bertil Almqvist’s iconic drawing of a tiger which accompanied the motto.

Following the war, the image was adopted as the logo for Sweden’s military intelligence and security service (MUST) without permission

After battling for eleven years over the image, the Armed Forces must now pay 300,000 kronor in damages to the late Almqvist’s daughter and 100,000 kronor to the Beredskapsmuseet, a small museum in Helsingborg in western Sweden which now owns the copyright.

“It feels great that this long fight is over. It would have probably been easier to negotiate with a private company and not with such a huge agency. There was a lot of prestige involved for them,” said Marie Andreé, the legal representative for both the museum and the daughter, to the TT news agency.

“Our duty is to protect the image’s history; it shouldn’t be used as a brand label and in political contexts without being seen in its historical context.”

Andreas Sturesson from MUST says that all the parties involved are satisfied with the outcome.

“This is a question which has been batted back and forth for years and hasn’t been good for anyone.”