Compositions in speech or in writing, computer programmes, databases, musical and stage works, works of pictorial art, architectural art, applied art - as well as all types of spiritual creation of a literary or artistic work - are protected by copyright law. The law gives artists, authors, composers or other creative persons the right to decide how their literary or artistic works are to be used.

For a creation to be regarded as a work, it must have attained the high standard required of a work. This implies that the work should display originality or individuality as a result of the originators personal making. It is, in other words, the originators special way of expressing something that is protected, not the ideas or facts that the work may contain.

An originator has economic and non-economic rights to his or her work. The rights refer to the work both in its original form and when it is available in a revised form (like a translation or adaptation). Copyright is valid during the originators lifetime and for 70 years after his or her death.

The originator has:

Economic rights

  • the right to permit or prohibit reproduction of the work, e.g. by photocopying or other form of copying,
  • the right to make the work available to the general public, i.e. to present the work publicly, to display it publicly or to distribute copies of the work.

Non-economic rights

  • the right to be named in conjunction with the work being used, to the extent and in the way required by good practice,
  • right to respect for the work, i.e. that the work may not be altered or made available to the general public in a form or connection that is damaging to the originators literary or artistic reputation or distinctive character.

In certain cases permission may be given to use works, notwithstanding the economic rights of copyright protection. Non-economic rights, on the other hand, must always be observed. It is permitted, for example, to quote from public works but then the source should be named. Unlike non-economic rights, economic rights may also be transferred to another person.

Inquiry on Copyright Law

In April 2008, the Government appointed a Special Committee of Inquiry for the purpose of reviewing certain aspects of copyright law. Professor Jan Rosén was appointed Inquiry Chair.

The background to the Inquiry is that, during later years, a number of issues have not been possible to consider in the context of other legislation projects. Furthermore, the Copyright Act has since it came into force in 1960 been amended a number of times, without any review being made of the Act in its entirety.

The Inquiry comprises of three parts.

  • a review of the provisions on the transfer of copyright, for instance in employment and commission situations,
  • a review of certain issues concerning the so-called extended collective licenses (the mechanism of extended collective licenses is a simplified way of obtaining licenses, for instance in situations where it is not feasible to obtain individual authorizations from all right-holders), and
  • a review of the Copyright Act in its entirety from drafting and linguistic points of view.

The Inquiry has submitted its report En ny upphovsrättslag (SOU 2011:32) on April 15, 2011, with a partial report, Avtalad upphovsrätt (SOU 2010:24) covering the two first-mentioned issues by April 8, 2010.

Copyright law

Copyright law protects the rights of writers, composers, painters and other creative persons to control the use of what they have created.

Copyright is governed by the provisions in the Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (Swedish Code of Statutes, SFS 1960:729) - the Copyright Act. Additional provisions are contained in the Copyright Regulation (1993:1212) and the International Copyright Regulation (1994:193).