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The Copyright Act

In 1960 a law was passed that gives the originator of a work the right to decide how it may be used (Swedish Copyright Legislation, Act 1960:729). All originators, irrespective of nationality, receive the same protection and, contrary to when a patent application is filed, no formal application is necessary. The right to copy pages from works protected by copyright is very limited.

The originator

The originator is the person who has created an original work. It may consist of having written a book, developed a computer programme, taken a photo, composed a piece of music or painted a picture that does not resemble anyone else's work.

No formal application is necessary to receive this protection. The work must however have certain qualities.

Duration of copyright

A work is, according to the Copyright Act, protected for 70 years after the death of the originator. If the work has several originators the work is protected for 70 years after the death of the last originator. The symbol for copyright © may function as a reminder that the work is protected, but has no legal function in Sweden.

Moral and economic rights

Copyright consists of:

  • moral rights, i.e. the right to be designated as the author of the work when it is presented or used, as well as the right to decide whether changes may be made to the work. These rights cannot be sold or inherited. If someone uses parts of your work or in any way violates your rights you may claim compensation.
  • economic rights, i.e. the right to produce copies of the work and make it available to the public. You may change the original work and you may even publish it wherever you wish. This right may be sold or transferred. This is the part that 'makes money'.

Exceptions

The originator does not have unrestricted exclusive rights to his or her work. There are exceptions that restrict the exclusiveness.  In this case an assessment of the interests of the originators and society is made.

The Copyright Act does not apply to:

  • Fundamental laws
  • Decisions made by authorities
  • Statements made by Swedish authorities

Creative Commons

For more than ten years Creative Commons licenses have made it easier for originators to permit use of their work. With Creative Commons one can share a complete work or parts of it, copy, distribute, edit etc. Clear references to the main source must, naturally, be given.

Academic conduct

In the short film below, Göran Bexell, professor of ethics and former Vice-Chancellor of Lund University, talks about academic honesty. He also talks about how fun and inspiring it is to work independently with respect for other's ideas and work.

More information


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