In an op-ed yesterday at the Norwegian website Document.no, Hans Rustad pointed out that Norwegians can no longer assume that their discussions and customary practices will remain “within the family”. Thanks to the Internet and the widespread use of machine translation, what happens in Oslo does not stay in Oslo.
The same is true of Sweden and other “totalitarian democracies”. Their repressive, illiberal, and insular cultures are now easily exposed to the gaze of the rest of the world. This is not something that the elites of those societies will always be proud of — perhaps they are subliminally aware of the moral and ethical degradation into which their countries have descended.
Such seems to be the case with Sveriges Television (SVT), the Swedish state broadcaster. This morning I received the following email from Pia Bernhardson, the executive producer of “Agenda SVT”, concerning a Gates of Vienna post from last April entitled “A Loss of Faith in Sweden as a Democracy”:
Dear Gates of Vienna,
it has come to my attention that you have posted a link on your website that belongs to SVT, Swedish Television.
You do not have the legal rights to introduce this material as your own, with a logotype of your own. I strongly urge you to take this material off your website.
I responded as follows:
Gates of Vienna always respects copyright, and stays within “fair use” guidelines.
The video to which you refer does not belong to Gates of Vienna, but was simply embedded on our site, just as we would do with a YouTube video. I cannot remove the video from where it was uploaded.
The translated transcript that accompanies the video was a volunteer effort, and does not duplicate any material published by SVT. Since it was offered to readers without any charge, we are of the opinion that its publication constitutes “fair use” as defined under U.S. copyright practices. However, I will consult with our legal staff to learn whether they are in agreement with this assessment.
Thank you for writing.
I’ll talk to a couple of lawyers I know and see what they think about our use of that English transcript.
However, as we have often emphasized, we rely on the distributed intelligence of our readers for information and evaluation. In that sense, the lawyers amongst them are actually members of our legal staff, so we would be happy if any of them — particularly those familiar with international copyright conventions — would like to leave advice in the comments.
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I obviously don’t know Ms. Bernhardson’s motives in asking us to remove the post, but I strongly suspect that copyright is not the real issue.
The image used at the top of this post provides incidental evidence for SVT’s opinion of copyright. The illustration of “En Svensk Tiger” is a well-known state propaganda poster from World War Two. According to the Wikipedia entry on the topic:
In Swedish, svensk can mean both the adjective “Swedish” and the noun “Swede” while tiger can mean either the noun for the animal or the present tense of the verb tiga (“to keep silent”), giving the poster the double meaning “a Swedish tiger” or “a Swede keeps silent”. The phrase is comparable in use to “loose lips sink ships” in the USA.
The image, clearly marked with ®, was taken from the Creative Commons upload page accompanying the article. The page includes this note:
This is a logo of an organization, item, or event, and is protected by copyright. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, of logos for certain uses involving identification and critical commentary may qualify as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement. Certain commercial use of this image may also be trademark infringement.
Wikipedia recognizes “fair use” of the design, and so do I. And, interestingly enough, so does Sveriges Radio, the radio arm of Swedish public broadcasting. If you take a look at this page, you’ll see that SR has “En Svensk Tiger” prominently posted.
Furthermore, under the image you’ll see the credit “SVT Bild” — that is, it’s an “SVT picture”.
What’s that again about copyright, SVT?