Miffed by Miffy
I don't know how it came about but the Miffy rabbit character has for a long time been associated with the Earth First! movement and radical ecological direct action. But do the creators and copyright owners of the character know or approve of Miffy's political activities?...
Miffy is a picture book character created by Dick Bruna in 1955, after telling his one-year-old son Sierk stories about a rabbit they had seen on holiday. Miffy now features in about 30 titles which have been translated into 40 different languages, selling over 80 million copies all over the world.
Drawn in a very minimalist style, Miffy requires only a few lines and one or two primary colors drawn in two dimensions to be recognisable. Perhaps this, and the sense of air of innocence over mischief explains why she become involved in ecological direct action.
It's unclear exactly when exactly it began but you can trace her political activities, in this country at least, back to the early 90's and the anti-roads movement. Seen coyly holding a spanner behind her back, one could only imagine the trail of monkey wrenching she left behind her in her efforts to defend the fields, woodland and hedgerows she loved.
By the late nineties, with the roads building program in retreat, Miffy joined the growing anti GM movement, taking up a spade to join the resistance. More recently, Miffy joined her fellow protesters for a game of golf up in Scotland during the 2005 G8 summit and who know, perhaps she also took part in the blockades in Heiligendamm this year.
At over fifty years old you'd think that Miffy would be her own person, free to express her political beliefs as she sees fit but sadly it appears not. The copyright owners of all Dick Bruna's character constantly hunt down unlicensed users of her image in order to defend their profitable merchandising business.
While Miffy was created for a children's book, the design has been capitalised on to sell numerous other products like clothes, stationery, toys, glasses, household items etc. A search for Miffy products on google brings up over 100,000 pages and no doubt many of the products sold are unlicensed copies made in far eastern sweat shops.
However, Mercis, the Dutch company that owns the copyright, are not content to simply take action on those producing 'fake' merchandise, they appears to have stumbled on Miffy's radical secret life and they are not amused. They are deeply offended, ironically, by Miffys involvement in the campaign against patents on life, as depicted in sticker produced many years ago promoting the (long dead), www.resistanceisfertile.com website - copies of which can now only be found in resource archives of the (no longer maintained) Totnes Against Genetics (ToGG) website.
Mercis (www.mercis.nl) have unleashed their legal team to threaten expensive legal action against whoever might be held accountable - the inactive Totnes Genetics Group who's long unmaintained website sill contains a picture of that Miffy sticker.
While ToGG volunteers try to get long forgotten passwords and access from the internet service provider which hosts the website in order to remove the offending image, more important questions have been raised. Will Miffy tolerate this attack on her freedom of expression and will her friends in the movement stand idly by and watch as her freedom to protest is taken away?
Other siting of Miffy can be found at https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/06/374195.html?c=on#comments