Copyright – how it works

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Copyright protects music, film, literature and other creation, such as sculptures, furniture, lamps and building art. The source code for a computer program is also protected by copyright.

What is required for copyright?

The work must be original

Copyright requires that the work has "artistic merit", meaning that what you created reaches a certain level of originality. In Sweden, it is not possible to apply for copyright protection, but rather the right arises automatically when a work comes into being. In Sweden, copyright is valid for 70 years after the creator’s death.

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Economic and immaterial rights

Economic rights

The economic rights for the work always arise with the person who created a work, but can be transferred to someone else through a contract. The person who has the economic rights to a work is the one who decides if and how the work may be used and disseminated. For example, this person decides whether a song may be used in a commercial, whether a short story can be published in a collection of short stories or whether a photo may be used for a poster.

Immaterial rights

The immaterial rights mean that the creator has the right to be named if you use a work – anyone who quotes from a book must indicate who the author is. The work must also be respected, you may not change it or infringe on the creator.

Although the protection of a work subject to copyright arises intangibly, meaning without requiring registration, it can be complex to claim this protection. The copyright contains many exceptions and limitations. In working life, the right to copyright works is governed by further legislation and a number of agreements. It is therefore often advisable to seek advice from your trade association, for example, before doing business that may be affected by copyright.

Read more about copyright on PRV’s website

Read more about copyright in different industries (in Swedish)

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Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth

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