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Pippi's monkey cleared for child's obituary

The Local · 16 Sep 2012, 16:14

Published: 16 Sep 2012 16:14 GMT+02:00

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"We apologise for an evidently poor decision and the injury and hurt that we have caused. If the 3-year-old's family are still interested in Mr Nilsson then their wishes will of course be met," Saltkråkan AB said in a statement on Sunday.

The Local reported on Saturday about a request from the parents of a three-year-old boy who died suddenly at the end of last month, to include a picture of Mr Nilsson in their child's obituary.

The boy's relatives were however told by Saltkråkan's representatives that images from "Pippi Longstocking" and other stories by Astrid Lindgren, should only occur in "happy contexts" directly related to the stories themselves.

One of the Saltkråkan representatives, Lindgren's granddaughter Malin Billing, defended the decision at the time, saying that it was taken in accordance with the late Swedish children's author's own wishes.

"The images belong to the stories about Pippi and not to any other stories," Billing told the Aftonbladet daily on Saturday.

"We try to keep to that principle…even when it comes to such distressing things as toddlers' death notices. Sometimes it is at the cost of very strong feelings, and we are sorry about that."

But following widespread criticism and social media debate on the company's stance, the decision was taken on Sunday to make an exception to its standard policy.

Saltkråkan's stated role is to "maintain Astrid Lindgren's legacy" the firm is named after the fictional Stockholm archipelago island in Astrid Lindgren's 1968 film "Vi på Saltkråkan" (We on Seacrow Island).

Story continues below…

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Your comments about this article

23:21 September 16, 2012 by Swedish Cat
Still sad I think and changed their mind under pressure. They have a children hospital in her name but if the child does not make it please do not use our logo?? Astrid who loved children most of all would be very sad,
23:49 September 16, 2012 by Frobobbles
Just what every child obituary needs. A nasty squeaking monkey.
08:28 September 17, 2012 by eltechno
It is in rare moments like this that I actually sympathize with folks like Saltkråkan. The intellectual property laws are written so the holder must actively defend his brand or lose their rights. So their intellectual property lawyers staff out the job of seeing if their property rights have been infringed. These people are not the sharpest knives in the drawer so no one trusts them to make value judgments. So they go after everything-even a child's obituary. Meanwhile, the copyright holder gets to look like a gigantic jerk-folks WILL remember who ruined one of the more popular brands on earth.

There is an easy solution for this nonsense-just give the intellectual property holder the right to decide who to pursue. In all other instances, the laws revert to some generous fair use model. Of course, this will never happen because it would cut off a lucrative legal sideline. Here in USA, the Patent Office was one of the first things the new government set up-and yet today it may be further from useful than it ever has been. Too bad because protecting the legitimate interests of producers of intellectual property is actually a social good.
10:11 September 17, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ eltechno

Unless the family of the deceased child was about to mass produce 'little johnny's memorial cookies' with that image on it, it is hard to see how their brand needed defending in this particular case of a single obituary photo. The foundation should have been honoured that this terminally ill boy took comfort and/or enjoyed the pleasant distraction afforded by the stuffed toy of the Astrid Lindren character.

Your legal imperitave interpretation and proposed solution may in fact be correct, but for my part I would not escalate this to a legal-macro-economics interpretation, but rather chalk it up to Swedish hypersensitivity that is out of place with regard to the social and emotional IQ of ordinary people.

There are many examples of this hypersensitivity. In addition to posters being ripped down because one cartoon character was black in colour, even when surrounded by grossly distorted 'white' characters in the same film, the taxpayers of Uppsala had to pay for the removal of crosswalk signs for the simple reason that the silhouette of the woman crossing the road was slightly too attractive. Sweden's univeristies have unleashed a bunch of gender equality and social sensitivity 'experts' who have lost their ability to view the world with common sense.
11:36 September 17, 2012 by skogsbo
I just think they missed a PR trick, they could have done something like a one off offer for the whole of family to have a happy trip to Astrid Lindgrens World in memory of the deceased. Thus, a happy family and a PR win, at very little cost. Clearly whilst the brains of the family wrote all the stories and developed them, not everyone on the committe has inherited the same wisdom.
11:38 September 18, 2012 by eltechno
@ Reason abd Realism

I am quite certain that correctness-political and otherwise-runs amok in Sweden. But this case is about patent and copyright law and has almost nothing to do with correctness.

And nobody said it had to make sense because in many of these cases, it doesn't.
14:20 September 18, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ eltechno

The legal machinations that unleashed the ban on the image are nicely explained by IP and copyright law, but the real controversy (for me) began when the grand daughter of Astrid Lindgren, who should have known better, initially stuck by the decision of the foundation, or equivalently the foundation's legal team, and I perceive her attitude to be consistent with a peculiar Swedish hypersensitivity to images, which can be summed up as: an inherent assumption that the worst possible interpretation or imaginable consequence of the publication of a particular image is the one that matters most, for decision making purposes, even when the worst imaginable consequence (suddenly plummeting book sales?) is way out of whack with what any normal person would think or feel or consider to be reasonable. Another possible cultural element that could have led the grand daughter to her incorrect initial decision to stand by her legal team, might be a rigid Germanic tendency (also present here in Sweden) to stay organized and to follow the rule book, even when the rule book stinks.

To contrast Swedish and American culture, I would for example be shocked if say the grandson of Walt Disney (if he has or ever had that authority) would have initially stuck by his legal team if some Disney lawyer had forbidden a couple from publishing an obituary photo of their recently deceased 3 year old child, because in that photo the child was happily hugging a stuffed Disney toy.
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