Norwegian blogger Chrstoffer Biong published a blog post last week (in Norwegian), criticising a severe case of misinformation in an extremely protectionist agricultural campaign, launched by the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food; Nyt Norge (Enjoy Norway), set up to prevent import of food and beverages, and, of course, promote same of Norwegian origin. He is now threatened with legal action from same authorities, on pretext of his illustrative use of the Nyt Norge logo, as a copyrighted property.
There can be no doubt that blogs writing in favour of the campaign would not receive threats of legal prosecution, whereas critical voices are threatened to silence. Granted in the letter Mr Biong received from the Nyt Norge lawyer, Ms Nina Hegdal, he is instructed to remove what they see as unjustified use of their logo only, which may seem a fair demand, if it hadn’t been for the fact that it’s used in a series of satiric campaign mock-ups – which, in the view of the public, and legal custom, is considered fair use.
Imagine, if you will, that bloggers and the press were denied any use of the BP logo in relevant articles on the Mexico gulf disaster. Unthinkable, of course. In Norway: Not so (or so they would have us believe).
Mr Biong’s real offence lies in pointing out the intentional misinformation in a campaign setting out to render Norway’s agricultural products healthier and better than that of the European Union’s, for instance, while in reality it is the other way around. In fact, some of the organisations behind (alongside the Ministry of Agriculture and Food) the campaign make out the very core of Norway’s EU opposition.
We like to see ourselves as a modern democracy, with obvious rights, such as freedom of expression. This blatant attempt at intimidating a private citizen, whose only crime is to voice his opinion, is a mockery of everything we hold sacred, such as democratic values.
Finally, a sample, one of many similar, from the campaign – even if it contains a logo:
Late addition: The whole affair reminds me of Norwegian farmers’ conduct in similar situations, such as earlier this year, when a good friend of mine made a huge mistake: That of using a blog title reading Bloody peasants (in Norwegian). It nearly cost him his job.
Photo: Norwegian sheep. Photographer: Jeroen Hellingman/Wikipedia