Denmark: Apple’s puritanical censorship creates a movement

“An international protest movement is under way that has had enough of Apple’s new-puritamism and negative cultural domination,” wrote journalist Morten Løkkegaard in Politiken on 8 February 2013.

Left: Photo from Peter Øvig Knudsens book ‘Hippie’. Right: Book cover of Michael Næsted Nielsen’s new book, ‘The Slave’

After a second Danish author, Michael Næsted Nielsen, was informed by Apple that his new book, ‘Slaven’ (‘The Slave’) is going to be censored from iBookstore because it has a naked man on the front cover, a new stream of articles and commentaries is being published. The Danish Minister of Culture, Marianne Jelved, recently stepped in, saying: “Apple has not previously shown interest to enter a dialogue, but even so, I will still make contact. This seems entirely inappropriate. It can only be seen as censorship.”

Two EU commisioners Kroes and Vassiliou have both declared that they will also go into the matter concerning the powerful and puritanical American computer-giant. Kroes apparently already has talked with Apple’s management, but without any effect. The case is to be discussed at a EU-conference in May 2013.

In his article in Politiken, Morten Løkkegaard blamed Apple for its “arrogance of power”: “This kind of arrogance is not a good idea. And Apple will come to realise that,” he wrote.

App censored
Danish author Peter Øvig Knudsen had the ebook-editions of his two books ‘Hippie I’ and ‘Hippie II’ removed from Apple’s iBookstore because of it’s documentary photos of naked people in the 1970’s, even after a second version had been produced where the sensitive parts had been covered with red apples. Then, ín November 2012, the app version of the books produced for iPad and iPhone, which can only be purchased on the App Store, was also removed.

The decision was notified by a telephone call from Apple in California, said the Danish publisher, Gyldendal.

The App for the book included not only the two books, but also gave buyers the option to switch freely between reading and listening to related music.

“The new step from Apple is much more serious than the first. We now have no opportunity to sell the most advanced version of my books,” said Peter Øvig Knudsen in a press release.

“We have invested significant amounts of money and effort in an advanced App, which we now can not sell anywhere,” said Jens Lauritsen, CEO of Hippie Company which developed the App.

The case has been discussed several times in Danish parliament, primarily because politicians are upset about Apple’s monopoly on the market.

Politiken – 8 February 2013:
Apple må droppe sin tonedøve arrogance

DR – 5 February 2013:
Endnu en nøgen mand forbudt af Apple

DR – 9 November 2013:
Apple optrapper censur mod Hippie-bøger – 8 November 2013:
Apple’s iBookstore censorship case: The distinction between porn and art



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One Comment to "Denmark: Apple’s puritanical censorship creates a movement"

  1. Statement about Apple´s censoring of Michael Næsted Nielsen´s short story, The Slave

    The local group, StORDstrømmen, under The Danish Authors´ Association, takes vigorous exception to the censorship Apple has exerted on a work by Michael Næsted Nielsen, a Danish author. His short story, The Slave, which has been published under the pen name Reuben Klovi by the publishers has been excluded from Apple´s net bookstore, iBooks. We call on Apple to immediately put back The Slave on iBooks in order that it is available to the public – at least in countries, which do no exert censorship.

    We also call on The Danish Authors´ Association, the minister of cultural affairs and the Danish Parliament to secure freedom of expression in the Danish media against censorship exerted by financially strong, international companies, this preferably in a co-operation between the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe. The Danish media are to an increasing extent owned by international groups. And this goes for trendsetting internet companies as well.

    When the companies in question make available free services for everybody, for them to express themselves “freely” and publish their statements, they must also be brought to act up to the freedom of expression, which since the introduction of democracy we have secured that the state does not violate.

    Globalising should not force the Danish freedom of speech and democracy to follow the world´s lowest common denominator. Taking it to its logical conclusion this could mean exclusion of publications critical of dicrimnnation of women, religions and dictatorships etc.

    This present statement has been approved at the StORDstrømmen annual meeting, 9th February 2013.

    Thorvald Berthelsen
    Chairman of StORDstrømmen



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