Denmark 🇩🇰 is a Northern European country which primarily practices Christianity. It is a member of the European Union.
Censorship in Denmark has been prohibited since 1849 by the Constitution:
This effectively means that published material does not need prior acceptance from a censor before being released, also known as prior restraint. However, child pornography, hate speech, copyright, libel, and state security laws do exist, which means that authors, publishers, and others can be held responsible for statements in publicly disseminated material that violates these laws. Until June 2017, §140 of the Danish penal code (colloquially, blasfemiparagraffen) outlawed blasphemy.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Denmark are guaranteed by § 77 of the constitution:
- Anyone is entitled to in print, writing and speech to publish his or hers thoughts, yet under responsibility to the courts. Censorship and other preventive measures can never again be introduced.
There's widespread agreement in Danish legal theory that § 77 protects what is called "formal freedom of speech" (formel ytringsfrihed), meaning that one cannot be required to submit one's speech for review by authorities before publishing or otherwise disseminating it. However, there is disagreement about whether or not § 77 covers "material freedom of speech" (materiel ytringsfrihed), the right to not be punished for ones speech. There is agreement that the phrasing "under responsibility to the courts" gives legislators some right to restrict speech, but conversely there have been several court decisions implying that some material freedom of speech does exist. The discussion is about whether the material speech has limits or not, and if so, what those limits are.
The major punishable acts are child pornography, libel, and hate speech/racism, which are restricted by the Danish penal code. Like most other countries, Denmark also forbids publishing classified material harmful to state security, copyright-protected material without permission and revealing trade secrets in the civil law.
In 2004, 2005, and 2009 Denmark received a joint first place in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. Since 2011, Denmark has consistently been in the top-10 out of 179 countries in the index and it was fourth in 2016.
In February and March 2004 three Berlingske Tidende journalists, Michael Bjerre, Jesper Larsen, and Niels Lunde, were prosecuted for "harming state security" after publishing the details of classified intelligence reports about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In December 2006 the three were acquitted by a Copenhagen court.
Right-wing commentator Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted under the hate speech statute (§ 266b) for remarks made to a blogger in December 2009 criticizing Islam. He was first acquitted in the District Court in January 2011, then convicted upon appeal to High Court in May 2011, and finally acquitted in April 2012 by the Danish Supreme Court, which ruled that it could not be proved that he intended for the statements to be published. Danish politician Jesper Langballe pleaded guilty and was convicted of hate speech for comments he made about rape and honour killings in Muslim families in a newspaper article in connection with Hedegaard's case.
Politisk Revy - this left-leaning political magazine's forthcoming issue was seized by the Danish police in 1969 for allegedly containing secret military information.
- The Skeleton Dance - this Walt Disney animated film was initially banned in 1930 because the censors deemed it "too macabre" for kids. Today, the ban is no longer in effect.
Internet censorship became a growing issue in Denmark from 2005 with child pornography sites, file-sharing sites such as AllOfMP3 and, more recently, The Pirate Bay, being blocked on the DNS level by ISPs. On 23 December 2008, WikiLeaks released a list of 3,863 sites being filtered in Denmark. However, no evidence of Internet filtering was found by the OpenNet Initiative in 2009. Due to legal issues ONI does not test for filtering of child pornography. In November 2011, the DNS blocking was expanded to include websites selling drugs and unlicensed online gambling sites. The DNS filters can easily be circumvented by simply changing to a different DNS server, such as Google Public DNS, OpenDNS, censurfridns.dk and other similar services.
This situation has been criticised by several organisations and in June 2011 in an open letter a confederation of the Danish IT-business organisations appealed to the Danish government for a revision of this practice and for the institution of clear legislation on the subject.
In 2012 Internet service providers (ISPs) and copyright holders in Denmark agreed on a framework where all ISPs will block access to copyright-infringing content if one of the providers is ordered to do so by a court. The Danish Ministry of Culture plans to work with ISPs and rights holder groups to "formalise" the agreement in a "written Code of Conduct".
- On 18 October 2005 Denmark's biggest Internet service provider TDC A/S launched a DNS-based child pornography filter in cooperation with the state police department and Save the Children, a charity organisation. Since then, all major providers have joined and as of May 2006, 98% of the Danish Internet users were restricted by the filter.
- Also, as of 18 October 2005, TDC A/S had blocked Internet access to
AllOfMP3.com, a popular MP3 download site, through DNS filtering.
- In March 2006, Internet filtering caused some controversy when a legal sex site named
Bizar.dkwas blocked, sparking discussion about the reliability, accuracy and credibility of the filter
- On 4 February 2008 a Danish court ordered the Danish ISP Tele2 to shut down access to the file-sharing site
thepiratebayfor its Danish users.
- On YouTube, most music videos in Denmark are blocked since July 2020 due to copyright claims by KODA.
- In November 2011 a website selling diet pills,
24hdiet.com, was blocked by Danish ISPs, the first use of a new law on the blocking of foreign websites that sell drugs.
Video game censorship
- EA Sports MMA - this game was not released in Denmark because of a law prohibiting marketing for energy drinks, which EA chose to not remove from the game. However, distributing the game is not illegal, as it can still be found on shelves as an import.
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