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About copyright

The Swedish Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works protects creative works from being misused. Whether you are a student, teacher or researcher you must know what applies when you are using or copying material. You must provide sources every time you include works, or parts of works, made by others in your own text. The law is stricter if you also use images, tables or other figures – such as ones taken from a website – and you will need the copyright holder’s permission to use the material.

What is copyright?

All creative works are protected by copyright, which is regulated by the Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works (Lag (1960:729) om upphovsrätt till litterära och konstnärliga verk External link, opens in new window.). Copyright protects against the unauthorised use of a work and gives its creator the right to decide where and how the work may be disseminated, amended or used.

When you write a text, you have the right to refer to and quote short excerpts from other literary sources, if you provide a complete reference in which you name the copyright holder. However, there are other rules for illustrations, such as pictures/photographs, tables and other figures, as you must ask permission to use these.

Copyright arises the moment that a work is created and is valid for seventy years after the death of the author or originator. Examples of works protected by the act are literary works or other works of an artistic nature, pictures, photographs, figures and other types of artwork, provided they fulfil the requirements for originality, individuality and autonomy.

Copyright has two parts, one that is economic (right to compensation) and one that is moral (right to attribution). The moral rights to a work can never be transferred, which entails that the creator of the work has the right to be named in association with the work’s performance or publication, in accordance with good practice. This also means that the work may not be performed or published in a manner that is offensive to the creator. Economic rights include the right to produce copies of the work or adaptations of it, to perform it in public, and to sell, copy or otherwise disseminate it. The economic rights to a work may be transferred to another person or organisation by the original author/creator.

Using illustrations made by other people

If you use pictures/photographs, tables/diagrams or figures made by other people in your work, you must first ask all copyright holders for permission. This includes the original creator of the work (in accordance with the moral rights) and any holders of economic rights. If you are granted permission to use an illustration, you must save the agreement in written form and your text must state that the illustration is reprinted with permission.

Were you denied permission to use an image that is already in your essay or thesis, but wish to publish it in DiVA anyway? You can choose to exclude the image from the full text and instead write a comment stating that the image is missing in the electronic version.

Remember that not publishing or otherwise disseminating copyrighted material in your text is your responsibility. If you do infringe someone’s copyright, you may be required to pay damages, so check carefully that you are not using illustrations without permission or an agreement.

If you want to use images in your text or another publication, you can search for images that may be used freely. These are often marked with a licence that states how the image can be used. A common type of licence is Creative Commons External link, opens in new window.. Sometimes the image may not be changed or used in commercial contexts. Remember that you must still state the copyright holder and specify the source of the image. You can search for free images here:

Many museums and public authorities have images that can be used freely, sometimes with specific restrictions. Check what applies with the relevant organisation.

How much can I photocopy?

A university agreement with the Bonus Copyright Access organisation allows students and employees to copy or download copyrighted material, but with some restrictions. Read more about this agreement in the Bonus Copyright Access guide External link, opens in new window..

Your own copyright

If you have authored a text, like an essay or article, it is protected by copyright, just like other literary works. Your work has automatic protection and you do not need to specifically state your copyright, such as by using a © symbol. This means you have the right to decide how your text is used or disseminated. You can choose to use a licence that tells other people what they can do with your text. The Creative Commons organisation has licences External link, opens in new window. that combine a range of terms and conditions, allowing you to choose one that suits you.

If you are a researcher publishing via a publishing company that demands that you transfer the economic rights, you can try to agree to keep some rights to your text. An organisation called Sparc has developed an agreement called the Author Addendum External link, opens in new window.. You can use this to try to retain the right to use your text in teaching or to deposit a copy of it in an open repository (DiVA).

Learn more about copyright


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