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FAQs on copyright for consumers

FAQs on copyright for consumers

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on copyright help inform all European consumers about what is legal and what is not when using copyright protected content, such as music or film, on the internet.

As an extension of this successful initiative, the FAQs on copyright for teachers will provide teachers and students from the EU with clear and accurate information on what use of copyright protected content is allowed in the context of education.

15 questions from consumers on copyright for all EU Member States

Answers to the FAQs are given for all EU Member States. They are available in English and at least one of the official languages of the Member State in focus.

How does copyright affect your daily life?

 
Do you post on social media?
Do you add stories to your blog?
Are you streaming legally?
Who owns your work when you upload it to a platform?
Quoting a famous book online? How?
 
 
 

Click on a country in the map or select a country from the list to show the answers for the country:

 

Showing the answers for the country: Sweden Read in: Svenska | English .

 

1. What does copyright and related rights mean and cover, and is it the same all over the world?

2. Who owns copyright and how does copyright benefit creators, 'rights holder(s), consumers, society, economy and culture as a whole?

3. Do I automatically get copyright protection, for example, if I take a photograph with my phone, or do I have to register my work to get protection?

4. What is copyright infringement? Can I get in trouble for copyright infringement? What if I wasn't aware that I infringed something protected by copyright?

5. Under which conditions can I use a work protected by copyright created by another? I was told that using works created by others is simply a quote and thus is always allowed.

6. Am I allowed to use music protected by copyright as a soundtrack for a home video that I made and want to upload on a video platform?

7. Am I allowed to give a copy of a work protected by copyright to a family member or a friend?

8. Am I allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet and does it matter which technology is used and whether I download only parts of the work?

9. I tried to copy a movie from a DVD to my computer, but could not do it because of something called ‘Technical Protection Measures’. What is that and am I allowed to get around them in order to make private copies?

10. What are copyright levies?

11. Am I infringing copyright if I watch a movie by streaming it instead of downloading it from the internet?

12. If copyright-protected works are included into my posts automatically by social media platforms, am I responsible for this and is this a copyright infringement? What if I link to them or embed them in my own website or blog?

13. When I create a work and upload it online, terms and conditions of many sites ask for me to transfer my copyright to the site. Does that mean I lose all those rights in them for the future?

14. My avatar is based on my favourite movie star, cartoon character or sports club. Can I get in trouble for infringement of copyright or any other legislation because of this?

15. How do I know whether a work is offered legally or illegally online?

 

 

 

1. What does copyright and related rights mean and cover, and is it the same all over the world?

Copyright protects literary and artistic works, for example creations by authors, photographers, illustrators and artists, and thus individual effort and originality. Quality is not an issue here, as ‘bad’ creations are also protected. However, creations that are too simple and banal are not protected by copyright at all. Nowadays, however, the requirements for individual effort and originality tend to be set quite low.

Copyright is composed of two parts: economic rights and moral rights.

Economic rights concern the author’s rights to take decisions on making the work available and reproducing (copying) it. The author has complete freedom with respect to such economic rights and can transfer all or parts of them for a limited or an unlimited period of time.

Moral rights entail, first of all, the right of the author to be named as author of the work. There are no uniform rules for providing the name of the author. It depends on the type of work in question and how names are usually provided for such a work. Secondly, a work cannot be altered, pruned, etc., or used in a way that is prejudicial to the author. Normal cropping or alteration in the production process is, however, permitted. Moral rights cannot be assigned, only waived to a limited extent.

The Copyright Act also provides for the protection of intellectual effort related to copyright, e.g. simple photographs (that do not possess the required level of originality, such as passport photographs, photographs used by the press — including ‘snapshots’, amateur photographs, etc.), and the protection of performers, phonogram producers and broadcasting organisations. The related rights are the same as the economic rights for (copyright-protected) works. Photographers and performing artists also have moral rights to their creations.

Copyright is said to be limited territorially. This means that, instead of being protected internationally, it is protected by every country separately. However, because there are many international conventions and treaties governing copyright, the economic and moral rights can be said to be aligned to a large extent. Differences relate primarily to the scope of limitations and exceptions. So, for example, certain uses that may be permitted in Sweden, that is to say do not require the consent of the rights holder, may not be permitted in other countries, including Member States.

 

2. Who owns copyright and how does copyright benefit creators, 'rights holder(s), consumers, society, economy and culture as a whole?

In Swedish copyright law, the physical person (the actual creator) is to the fore, and the fundamental principle is that the person that has actually created an object satisfying the requirement of originality becomes the owner of the rights, that is to say copyright subsists with the person who has performed the required (intellectual) effort. This is true for both employed authors and freelance creators. Both physical and legal persons can be the original owners of certain related rights. However, it is common practice for economic rights to be transferred fully or partially to another party — for example, an employer. Authors may also permit another party to manage their exclusive rights — for example, an image bank or a collective (copyright) organisation.

Copyright protection provides incentives for creators to create works — whether generally useful or commercially relevant information, works of art or architecture or other creations of cultural and societal interest. Without such protection, creators would be unlikely to invest the same amount of time and effort in creating new works, and many business models or ways of accessing copyright-protected works would most likely not be created. It therefore serves a very important function for the economy and society as a whole. Like any other law, it also serves to define what is permitted and under what circumstances. Protection is, however, not absolute, either in time or in scope, and this serves to facilitate, inter alia, access to culture.

 

3. Do I automatically get copyright protection, for example, if I take a photograph with my phone, or do I have to register my work to get protection?

The protection of a photograph, either by copyright or by related rights, subsists in a work automatically from the moment the photograph is created or taken. Therefore, there is no need to register the creation. The copyright symbol © need not be used in Sweden. The rights are granted irrespective of how the creation has been expressed — it does not matter whether the creation has been printed on paper or exists only digitally.

 

4. What is copyright infringement? Can I get in trouble for copyright infringement? What if I wasn't aware that I infringed something protected by copyright?

Making copies of a work or making it available to the public without permission, or without this being allowed according to a provision or limitation, constitutes an infringement. The same is true if the name of the author is not stated to the extent and in the manner required by proper usage, or if the work is changed in a manner that is prejudicial to the author’s literary or artistic reputation, or to his or her individuality, or if it is made available to the public in such a form, or in such a context, as to be prejudicial to the author’s literary or artistic reputation or to his or her individuality.

An infringement triggers various sanctions such as injunctions, economic compensation and other damages, seizure and imprisonment. The type and extent of the various sanctions depend on what has been used and in what way, and on whether it has been done intentionally, negligently, or with or without the knowledge that what was used was protected by copyright.

Copyright infringement can be punished only where it was committed intentionally or with gross negligence. If the infringer did not know, or have any reason to suspect, that a work had been unlawfully reproduced, he or she cannot be punished for it. Liability to pay damages occurs when an infringement is committed intentionally or with negligence. However, the author/rights holder always has a right to reasonable compensation for the unlawful use of the work. In practice, this means that use that has been made without the consent of the author/rights holder must always be paid for. An exception is if the use consists of making a copy for private use from material provided unlawfully (see question 7). In this situation, compensation has to be paid only if the infringement was carried out intentionally or with gross negligence.

 

5. Under which conditions can I use a work protected by copyright created by another? I was told that using works created by others is simply a quote and thus is always allowed.

The main rule is that the author alone may exploit the economic rights. In view of religious, cultural and other societal needs, certain limitations have been imposed on the author’s exclusive rights. The Copyright Act provides for a number of limitations that make it possible for others to use works without authorisation from the author. Examples of such uses include limited reproductions for private use and quoting the works of others.

For example, it is possible to quote another person’s written work in compliance with proper usage if the source is indicated and if it is not prejudicial to the author’s artistic reputation or his or her individuality. This means that a quotation may be used for the purposes of criticism or for elucidating one’s own or another person’s work. However, a quotation may not be any longer than what is necessary to achieve its purpose. In practice, this means that quotations cannot simply be used to make a work more readable.

 

6. Am I allowed to use music protected by copyright as a soundtrack for a home video that I made and want to upload on a video platform?

Using another person’s music in a homemade video requires the consent of the rights holder but is permitted for private use. However, uploading a video to a platform that is publicly available on the internet constitutes infringement of copyright. It is irrelevant whether the person performing the uploading produced the video him- or herself. If the video contains works belonging to another person, the latter’s consent is required before the work can be made publicly available on the internet.

 

7. Am I allowed to give a copy of a work protected by copyright to a family member or a friend?

A person may make one or a few copies, for private use, of a work that has been made available (published) by the rights holder lawfully. How many copies are covered by ‘a few’ has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. The copies reproduced may not be used for other purposes. Both analogue and digital works may be reproduced privately. However, a work downloaded from the internet must have been uploaded there lawfully. Otherwise, the limitation will not be applicable, irrespective of good faith. In other words, private use is no defence if the copy of the work reproduced for such purpose was not based on an original reproduced or made available with the rights holder’s consent.

A copy reproduced for private use (and based on a lawful original) may be given to a family member or close friend.

 

8. Am I allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet and does it matter which technology is used and whether I download only parts of the work?

When a work is downloaded from the internet, a copy of the work is made. This is also the case when smaller sections of a work are downloaded. However, whether such smaller sections of the work fall under copyright protection, has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

A work may be downloaded from the internet only if it was legally uploaded to the internet and if it is being downloaded for private purposes.

 

9. I tried to copy a movie from a DVD to my computer, but could not do it because of something called ‘Technical Protection Measures’. What is that and am I allowed to get around them in order to make private copies?

The Copyright Act protects the use of Technical Protection Measures (TPMs), which protect access to copyright works. In Sweden, TPMs specifically restrict the reproduction or making available of a work, that is to say the two economic rights that are expressly granted by copyright. However, not every technical measure is a TPM: for instance, the regional protection of DVDs is not.

The fact that TPMs are protected means that it is illegal to circumvent copy-protection technology in order, for example, to upload a work to the internet or otherwise make it available to the public. Nor is it permissible to circumvent the copy-protection technology on a CD in order to ‘rip’ it to mp3 format for private use, since this involves copying the work and therefore requires the consent of the author. In Sweden it is, however, possible to circumvent TPMs if they prevent access to a legally acquired work. In practice, this means that it is lawful to circumvent technology that prevents you from listening to or watching a film on the computer or with alternative operating systems. In such cases, no new copy of the work is made.

 

10. What are copyright levies?

Private copying levies make it possible for the public to copy and record music, films and television programmes for private use while simultaneously compensating the author whose works are reproduced. A limitation of the Copyright Act makes it lawful to reproduce copyright-protected creations for private purposes. Under the (EU) InfoSoc Directive, private copying is permitted only if authors are remunerated. Swedish law ensures that such remuneration is paid by the business owner that manufactures or imports products that can be used for private copying, such as CDs/DVDs, MP3 players, external hard disk drives, USB sticks and digital boxes with built-in hard disk drives (TV).

 

11. Am I infringing copyright if I watch a movie by streaming it instead of downloading it from the internet?

When the Information Society Directive was implemented, it was pronounced that watching and listening, since not copyright-relevant acts, should be seen as ‘lawful use’. Thus, the temporary copies produced when a consumer is watching or listening (whether from a lawful or unlawful source) should be exempted from the reproduction right normally held by the author/right(s) holder. This would mean that the person watching or listening —and thus producing temporary copies — would not be committing an infringement.

However, in Stichting Brein C‑527/15, the ECJ found that, under certain circumstances, “[…] Article 5(1) and (5) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as meaning that acts of temporary reproduction, on a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, of a copyright-protected work obtained by streaming from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder does not satisfy the conditions set out in those provisions. […]” Whether this reasoning is applicable to all kinds of streaming of content from an unlawful source is not yet clarified and no such case has yet been tried by Swedish courts. What is clear, however, is that sharing files while simultaneously streaming material does constitute copyright infringement if the work has been uploaded unlawfully. The same is true if copies are made that are not seen as temporary in the sense of the directive.

 

12. If copyright-protected works are included into my posts automatically by social media platforms, am I responsible for this and is this a copyright infringement? What if I link to them or embed them in my own website or blog?

Uploading another person’s copyright-protected work to, e.g., Facebook requires the consent of the rights holder since, in such a case, the user may be both reproducing the work and, in some instances, making it available to the public. It is irrelevant whether the work has been uploaded ‘automatically’ as the user is responsible for having obtained the necessary rights to use the work.

Linking to copyright-protected works and embedding them (e.g. with the help of tags such as provided on websites like YouTube) is permitted on condition that the link does not as such circumvent any measure that has been implemented by the host website operator. In other words, the content must usually be freely accessible. It is still not clear if linking to content that has been uploaded unlawfully is also permitted.

Linking to copyright-protected material, made available on another website without the consent of the copyright holder, is allowed if those links are provided without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on that other website. But, on the contrary, if those links are provided for such a purpose, such knowledge must be presumed.

 

13. When I create a work and upload it online, terms and conditions of many sites ask for me to transfer my copyright to the site. Does that mean I lose all those rights in them for the future?

Economic rights can be transferred wholly or partially to another, e.g. a social media operator. The transfer of copyright is always subject to some form of agreement. Moral rights cannot be assigned and can be waived only to a limited extent.

 

14. My avatar is based on my favourite movie star, cartoon character or sports club. Can I get in trouble for infringement of copyright or any other legislation because of this?

An avatar can be protected by copyright in the same way as an artistic work. If one person adapts another’s work, the former should have copyright to the adapted work. A person who compiles several works to form, e.g., a collage, should have rights to the compilation. If, however, the subject-matter from which the avatar was created is a copyright-protected work, it may constitute infringement of that copyright if consent has not been obtained.

The subject-matter can also sometimes be protected in the same way as other intellectual property, particularly a trade mark or design. However, if the avatar is not used for commercial purposes, the laws regulating these two types of intellectual property are not applicable. The main difference between copyright and the other intellectual property rights is that the former concerns both commercial and non-commercial use of the work.

 

15. How do I know whether a work is offered legally or illegally online? 

In Swedish copyright law there is no concept of good faith, and anyone who wishes to use the work of another must have consent from the rights holder or rely on a copyright limitation established by law.

Only persons who have infringed copyright intentionally or with gross negligence may be punished. If an infringer did not know, or have any reason to suspect, that a work had been copied unlawfully, he or she cannot be sentenced or found liable to pay damages. Liability to pay damages arises when an infringement is committed intentionally or with negligence. However, the rights holder always has a right to reasonable remuneration for unlawful use of his or her work. This means that use that has been made without the consent of the rights holder must always be paid for, unless it merely consists of making a copy for private use from unlawfully provided material. Compensation must be paid only if the infringement is committed intentionally or with gross negligence.

 

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

The answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were finalised on the date indicated as the status date on the website. Gathering up-to-date information from 27 Member States is an extensive exercise. While the EUIPO tries to keep the information up-to-date, new case-law or legislative reforms may impact the content of the FAQs. Neither the EUIPO nor any person acting on behalf of the EUIPO is responsible for the use which might be made of the FAQs.

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