Astrid Lindgren’s copyright is not to be messed with
The unique character of Pippi Longstocking is protected by copyright. Once again, the German Courts have ruled in favour of the author’s rights to her own works.
The County Court of Hamburg has today (9 December 2020) passed its judgement in the case between The Astrid Lindgren Company and its opponents the Filmkunst Musikverlag (FKM) and the heirs of Wolfgang Franke regarding the copyright to the famous song “Hey Pippi Langstrumpf”. The court ruled in favour of The Astrid Lindgren Company, with a clear statement that the song is based on the copyright of Astrid Lindgren.
The historic background to the case is that the lyrics to the German iconic Pippi Longstocking song was written without the consent of Astrid Lindgren. Wolfgang Franke had written the German text version of the song for the television series, which came out in 1969.
According to the judgement Astrid Lindgren shall finally receive her rightful copyright credit as original author. And the publishing house FKM and the heirs of Wolfgang Franke will need permission from The Astrid Lindgren Company in order to further exploit the lyrics. The unique character of Pippi Longstocking is protected by copyright, as was ruled by the German Supreme Court already in 2013, which means that FKM and the Wolfgang Franke heirs are infringing the copyright of Astrid Lindgren through their use of the character Pippi Longstocking in the song. Moreover, the court ruled that they have to pay damages to The Astrid Lindgren Company for the 10 years leading up to the filing of the action in 2017.
Olle Nyman, Chairman of the Owners´ Council and former CEO at The Astrid Lindgren Company, also grandson of Astrid Lindgren says: “Our aim with this case has never been to stop this song, but to protect the integrity of the work of Astrid Lindgren and to stop the opponents’ copyright free-riding. We will do everything possible to ensure that the song will continue to be available for all fans worldwide and in particular in Germany. I want to emphasize that we have made every effort to reach an out-of-court settlement with the opponents, but they have not been willing to acknowledge basic copyright principles.”
German counsel Dr. Ralph Oliver Graef says: “This is an enormously important victory by the world famous author Astrid Lindgren over copyright infringers. Author’s rights are protected under international treaties and national copyright laws, such as the German Copyright Act. Despite the fact that the opponents are now obliged to stop their use of the property, we will do our very best to make sure that the song can continue to be enjoyed by the public as before.”
Olle Nyman: email@example.com, +46 739 81 44 66