Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Sweden

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Sweden relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Sweden must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Sweden and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Sweden, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.

Governing laws[edit]

Sweden has been a member of the Berne Convention since 1 August 1904, the WIPO treaty since 14 March 2010 and the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (1960:729) as the main copyright law enacted by the legislature of Sweden.[1] This has been amended many times over the years that followed.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law with consolidated amendments up to Act (2017:323) of April 2017 in their WIPO Lex database.[2]

General rules[edit]

Under Act 1960:729 with consolidated amendments up to Act (2017:323),

  • Copyright expires at the end of the 70th year after the author's death or, for a joint work, after the last surviving author's death.[729/1960-2017 §43]
  • For a cinematographic work, copyright expires at the end of the 70th year after the death of the last survivor of the principal director, screenwriter, dialogue writer and composer of music specifically created for the work.[729/1960-2017 §43]
  • For a musical work with text, copyright lasts to the end of the 70th year after the year of death of the last surviving of the composer and lyricist, if the music and text were created specifically for the work.[729/1960-2017 §43]
  • For works that have been published without the author being indicated by name, or by their widely known pseudonym or signature, copyright lasts until the end of the 70th year after they were made public. If the originator reveals their identity within this period, the provisions of §43 apply.[729/1960-2017 §44]
  • For works that have not been published and whose author is not known, copyright lasts until the end of the 70th year after the date in which the work was created.[729/1960-2017 §44]
  • If a person publishes a work for the first time after its copyright has expired, they have copyright until the end of the 25th year after the year when the work was published or made public.[729/1960-2017 §44a]
  • Photographs published after 1994 are protected for 70 years after the author's death if they exceed the threshold of originality required for full copyright protection (in the former law, the criterion was "artistic or scientific value"). The definition of a photographic work (fotografiskt verk), as opposed to a photo (fotografisk bild), is not precisely defined. There are still no precedents on this, but in practice, "work" has come to apply only to photos with distinctive originality, not to snapshot-like photos, such as press photos. Photos that lack originality are only protected for 50 years after creation. If the photograph was published before 1994, transitional regulations apply — see {{PD-Sweden-photo}}.
  • Government laws and ordinances, decisions and statements published by Swedish authorities, and official translations thereof, are not copyright protected.[729/1960-2017 §9]
  • Catalogs and charts containing compilations of a great amount of information, or being the result of a considerable investment, are under copyright for 15 years after the year of their creation, or if they have been published within 15 years from production — for 15 years after the year of publication.[729/1960-2017 §49]
  • Copyright for works of applied art created before 1960 expired 10 years after creation regardless of the time of death of the creator.[448/1970]

Copyright tags[edit]


See also: Commons:Copyright tags

  • {{PD-Sweden-photo}} – for images taken by unknown Swedish photographers before 1954 and for public domain photographic images, not photographic work, of Swedish origin taken before 1974
  • {{PD-Transportstyrelsen}} – for Swedish road signs from the website of the Swedish Transport Agency.[3]
  • {{PD-Ugglan}} – for images from the 2nd edition of Nordisk familjebok (Sweden, 1904–1926)
  • {{PD-Nordens Flora}} – for images from Nordens Flora (Sweden, Author: C. A. M. Lindman, 1917–1926).
  • {{PD-SFJ}} – for images from Svenska Familj-Journalen (1864–1887)
  • {{PD-Sjöfartsverket}} – for Swedish maritime fairway sign produced by the Swedish Maritime Administration.[4]
  • {{PD-Sweden-URL9}} – for reproductions of law, decision, or report issued by a Swedish public authority (svensk myndighet) or an official translation of such a text.


See also: Commons:Currency

 Not OK. Currency may be protected by copyright in Sweden. Riksbanken advices that the original authors of the works used on banknotes and coins may decide to sue if they feel their moral rights have been violated (which may mean the economic rights are not an issue for Swedish currency). There were undecided lawsuits on the matter at the time of the deletion request. Riksbanken itself seems not to have any claims. On the issue of counterfeit Riksbanken cites the Euro instructions as probably sufficient safeguards.[5]

De minimis[edit]

See also: Commons:De minimis Article 20a of the copyright law as of 2017 says:

  • It is allowed for a film or television program to include copies of works of art or public performances and transfer the artwork to the public, as long as the copy is of secondary importance with respect to the film or television program content. This may be done with artwork that appears in the background of, or otherwise forms an insignificant portion of an image.[729/1960-2017 §20a]

These are  Not OK:

  • Thumbnail-sized photos on a screenshot - copyvio of two of the thumbnail-sized photos (NJA 2010 p. 135[1])
  • People on a scene with decorations in the background - copyvio of the background (NJA 1981 p. 313)

Freedom of panorama[edit]

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

Public art[edit]

 Unsure but in accordance with Wikimedia Foundation's 2017 statement, OK and do not delete photos based only on the court ruling — On 4 April 2016, the Supreme Court of Sweden ruled, that Article 24 does not extend to publication by [Wikimedia Sweden] in their online repository, regardless of commercial intent.[6][7] See also: {{FoP-Sweden}}

Under Act 1960:729 with consolidated amendments up to Act (2017:323) Article 24, the first paragraph of which ('works of art...') was ruled not to apply to online publication:

23. Bestämmelsen i 24 § första stycket 1 upphovsrättslagen, där inskränkningen i upphovsmannens ensamrätt är begränsad till avbildningar, ger inte Wikimedia rätt att från sin databas med fotografier av konstverk, stadigvarande placerade på eller vid allmän plats utomhus, överföra verken via internet till allmänheten. Huruvida förfogandet sker i kommersiellt syfte saknar betydelse. De hänskjutna frågorna ska besvaras i enlighet med detta.

— Point 23 of the ruling of the Swedish Supreme Court.


23. The provision in § 24, first paragraph, 1 of the Copyright Act, where the restriction on the author's exclusive right is limited to reproductions in pictorial form, does not give Wikimedia the right to transmit the works via the Internet to the public from its database of photographs of works of art, permanently placed in or at a public place outdoors. Whether the disposal is for commercial purposes is irrelevant.

The reason BUS chose to target the site "" and not Wikimedia Commons was (probably) the fact that it made an intrusion to a right previously negotiated between BUS and the municipalities of Sweden (owners of the public art). The supreme court also used the requisite of a database for the ruling, not the publication of the images by themselves.

21. ... Det handlar här om en avvägning i förhållande till det syfte som databasen ska tillgodose (se p. 1). Detta syfte ligger i och för sig inom ramen för vad som kan ses som ett allmänt intresse. En databas av nu aktuellt slag öppnar emellertid för en stor användning av upphovsrättsligt skyddade verk, utan att någon ersättning betalas till upphovsmännen. Det blir därmed fråga om en betydligt större inskränkning i deras ensamrätt än vad bestämmelsen syftar till.

— Point 21 of the ruling of the Swedish Supreme Court.


21. ... This is a trade-off in relation to the purpose that the database is to serve (see p. 1). This purpose is in itself within the framework of what can be seen as a public interest. However, a database of the current type allows for a large use of copyrighted works, without any compensation being paid to the authors. It is thus a question of a much greater restriction on their exclusive right than what the provision aims at.

Before the ruling, it was widely believed that the exception in § 24 of the Swedish copyright law applied, permitting depiction of works of art. The exception reads as follows:

Works of fine art may be reproduced in pictorial form
  • if they are permanently located on, or at a public outdoor location,[729/1960-2017 §24.1]
  • if the purpose is to advertise an exhibition and sale of works of art, but only to the extent necessary to promote the exhibition or sale,[729/1960-2017 §24.2] or
  • if they are part of a collective work, in a catalog, but not in digital form.[729/1960-2017 §24.3]
Buildings may be freely depicted.[729/1960-2017 §24.3]

Bildkonst Upphovsrätt i Sverige (BUS, a collection society for visual arts), hold the position, that Article 24 does not apply to publication online. Others, such as the Swedish Wikimedia chapter, reject this position.

The Swedish Wikimedia chapter was sued in 2014 by BUS for alleged copyright violations of outdoor sculptures by providing a website that allows users to view locations of artwork on a map with links to photographs hosted on Wikimedia Commons.

On 4 April 2016, the Supreme Court of Sweden ruled that the first paragraph of Article 24 does not extend to publication in an online repository, regardless of commercial intent.[6][7]

The implications of that ruling were discussed.

On 6 July 2017, the Patent and Market Court at Stockholm District Court said it thinks that the Article 24 does not give anyone the right to publish photographs of copyrighted public art on the Internet without the consent of the depicted work's author,[8][9] and ordered the Swedish Wikimedia chapter to cease from further distribution, and to pay damages and court costs.[10][8] The ruling was not appealed.

Following the WMF official statement on 9 August 2017[11], it's strongly recommend not to submit any deletion requests just based on simple reasons like "no FOP for artworks in Sweden", and try the best to keep the de facto uploads, with {{FoP-Sweden}} template permanently tagged. If for some other reasons than FOP that the affected files must be nominated for deletion, a Swedish-speaking user must be participated in the related deletion request to explain so. See also: Commons talk:Copyright rules by territory/Sweden#Swedish FOP?

Information boards and maps[edit]

 Not OK Information boards and maps are considered works of literature and are not covered by Article 24.


 Unsure but in accordance with Wikimedia Foundation's 2017 statement, OK and do not delete photos based only on the court ruling. Architecture is covered in the second paragraph of Article 24:

Byggnader får fritt avbildas.

The paragraph was not discussed in the BUS vs WMSE case. However, WIPO gives a different perspective. Citing the BUS case, WIPO (2022, p. 20) states that "the Supreme Court of Sweden has held that Wikimedia required a license from the relevant right holder in order to lawfully display images of copyright-protected buildings."


Swedish security law (2010:305) dictates, that it is illegal to depict certain sensitive locations in any form. However, this is a non-copyright restriction, and has not been upheld by the community as a limitation of copyrights as discussed on this page.


See also: Commons:Stamps

Swedish stamps do not seem to have a copyright exception in Sweden, so stamps are in PD 70 years after the death of the engraver. See also: Category talk:Stamps of Sweden

Threshold of originality[edit]

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

"A simple general rule is that if it is unlikely that two persons would create, for example, a text identically or similarly, the text is probably sufficiently original to qualify as a protected work. (..) Often, the requirements for copyright protection are considered to be relatively low."[12] From the court cases below it can be concluded that the threshold of originality in Sweden is significantly higher then the ditto in the United Kingdom even though it might be considered low compared to the one in the United States.

Status Example Notes
The text itself can't be considered to fulfill the general threshold of originality considered for copyright protection. This same interpretation is made whether one sees it as Roman numerals or Latin letters. The logo itself does have some figurative design. The font must however, despite some inconsistancies along the edges, be considered as ordinary and the black rectangle in the background does not contribute to any distinctive character. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende nr 2017/00120/01, Registrering nr 540495
The logo consists of an a and a 6. The round part of each character is not closed, however the characters are, besides that, made in a fairly ordinary font without any distinctive character. Between the characters is a simple, sun-feather resembelling, figure with a pointy tip which goes down between the characters. Above this figure there are four points, two to the left and two to the right. The logo is way to simple to be granted such copyright protection which can constitute an impediment for others' trademark registration. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende nr 2005/0006/0001, Registrering nr 369154.

This ruling was appealed to Patentbesvärsrätten (Patent court of appeals) which settled the original ruling (Mål nr 06-304, vm.reg. 369.154), albeit with one member of the court with a dissenting opinion. Unfortunately, they did not elaborate as to why they settled the original ruling.

Technical drawing. According to decision by the Swedish Supreme Court.NJA 2004 s. 149
 Not OK The logo has been created using a Gothic font in a way which is frequently used among bands in the genre in question [death metal]. The logotype can thus not be considered to fulfill the demands of originality and distinctive character needed for copyright protection. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende 2013/0133/0001, Registrering nr 514059.

According to the court, after a comprehensive assessment, the wordmark shows such level of indivudual, distinctive character that it must be considered to possess copyright protection. The court especially values the font of choice, the individual design of the first and last letter and the fact that the first and last letter has been written in caps. - Patent- och marknadsdomstolen (Patent and Market Court) PMÄ 10796-16

This ruling was appealed to Patent- och marknadsöverdomstolen (Patent and Market Court of Appeals) which settled the previous ruling (Mål nr PMÖÄ 5441-17). Unfortunately, they did not elaborate as to why they settled the previous ruling.

 Not OK A black-and-white version of fr:File:Dunderklumpen Logo.png Ruled above the TOO by Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) (Varumärkesansökan nr 2014/00870), another part of the same ruling was appealed to the Patent- och marknadsdomstolen (Patent and Market Court) which settled the original ruling (Mål nr PMÄ 10748-16). Neither instance elaborated further as why the logo was ruled above the TOO but one can speculate that it was because it was a very obvious case.
 Not OK Michelin man lamp Ruled above the TOO by Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) (Varumärkesansökan nr 2015/03538). The office did not elaborate further as why the logo was ruled above the TOO but one can speculate that it was because it was a very obvious case.
 Not OK
Mini Maglite torch (Mål: T 1421-07, Högsta domstolen)
 Not OK Porcelain [2] "Sundborn", made by Rörstrand
 Not OK Photo illustrating a newspaper article RH 2009:18 (removed from the website in 2004 because of copyright infringement, protected as a photographic work for 70 years after author's death)
 Not OK Knitted tunic (NJA 1995 s. 164)
 Not OK Technical drawings (NJA 1998 s. 563)

See also[edit]


  1. a b c Sweden Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.
  2. Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (1960:729) (in Swedish, with auto-translate tool). Sweden (2017). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.. Note that some paragraph breaks are missing, which can be very confusing.
  3. Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen). Retrieved on 2019-03-29.
  4. Home. Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket). Retrieved on 2019-03-29.
  5. Copying and advertising. Riksbank. Retrieved on 2019-03-29.
  6. a b Högsta domstolen väljer att krympa det offentliga rummet istället för att gå på Wikimedia Sveriges linje Wikimedia Sverige blog, 2016-04-04 (in Swedish)
  7. a b The decision by the Supreme Court of Sweden in case Ö 849-15 announced in Stockholm April 4, 2016 (in Swedish)
  8. a b svenska Ruling by the Patent and Market Court at Stockholm District Court
  9. wikisource:sv:Sida:2016-04-04_Ö_849-15_Beslut.pdf/10
  10. svenska Investigation into FoP in Sweden by a Swedish scholar
  11. Official statement by Jrogers
  12. What may be protected?. Swedish Patent and Registration Office. Retrieved on 2019-03-29.
Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer