Last year, the government here in the Netherlands ran TV adds showing banners that read, "Disasters can’t be planned, preparations can. Think ahead".
But of course some disasters can be prevented by good planning. For example, if the Netherlands chooses clean energy instead of building nuclear power plants - then obviously there can't be any nuclear disasters. So we thought it was ironic that some in the same government also want nuclear power.
And of course, we're kind of big on banners ourselves. So we hung this one on Ministry of the Environment building. Then we got hauled into court.
Jasper (our Senior Legal Council) on the outcome of the case:
The Dutch State filed an injunction against Greenpeace Netherlands and Greenpeace International based on trademark and copyright infringement. We argued that it was a parody (copyright defence) and that the freedom of speech provided a valid reason to use the trademark.
On 22 December the Amsterdam Court fully honoured our defences, denied the injunction and ordered the State to pay Greenpeace EUR 18,000 in costs.
That the action by the State may have been politically motivated was evidenced by the fact that it only acquired the copyright in the logo from the designer after it had summoned Greenpeace to cease the campaign. The intellectual property argument was used in an attempt to stifle an undesirable Greenpeace campaign.
This judgement acknowledges the right to parody logos and use trademarks in our campaigns.
Three cheers for all the lawyers out there defending free speech!
In case you're wondering, in the government ads the banners were on things like fuel trucks and bridges. They said things like, "On October 15th this truck will explode" and "On October 30 this bridge will collapse". Pretty nice ad campaign and not for a bad cause.
Disaster preparation is always a good idea. But of course the best preparation is prevention. And that's where we come in - trying to prevent disasters like climate change and nuclear power.
So our banner read, "This Ministry is unreachable on 22 November due to a nuclear disaster...Think ahead, choose clean energy". (November 22nd was the date of the Netherlands elections.)
One interesting twist to all of this is that the government ad campaign had a sort of, "Greenpeace" feel to it. Their banners looked a lot like the banners we use to warn people about potential environmental disasters.
You see this sort of thing these days. Marketers imitate protesters to get that "edgy" feel. Sort of like culture jamming the culture jammers. Which I suppose means our protest was, "culture jamming the culture jamming culture jam".
In case you need to know what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency, see the government's website.
Greenpeace Netherlands web story (in Dutch of course).