Swedish Copyright Provisions

27 February 2004

Andreas Börjesson, Fredrik Malm

On 17 June 2003 the Department of Justice presented a proposal for changes to the Copyright Act further to Sweden's obligations to implement the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC). The changes that have attracted most attention are the new provisions limiting the possibility of copying and downloading music on the Internet, as well as those introducing legal protection for technical devices used to limit access to or copying of copyright-protected work.

Copies for private use and making available on the Internet

Under the existing provisions an individual may make copies of, for example, a CD or DVD for his own personal use. The individuals entitled to do this are the owner of the CD or DVD, his or her family, and perhaps even friends and work colleagues.

This led to arguments that downloading illegally published material on the Internet for personal or private use was lawful.

The new provisions seek to limit this right to copies made by the actual owner of the CD or DVD for strictly private purposes. In relation to music made available on the Internet, the new provisions clarify that the copyright holder alone has the right to make a copyright-protected work available to the public in such a way. Consequently music published on the Internet without the copyright holder's approval may not be downloaded by someone who claims that he is only making copies for his own personal use. An illegal copy can thus never be used to make new copies, even if such new copies are made in accordance with the private use provisions mentioned above.

The new provisions finally clarify that it is unlawful to make copies of music, movies or other copyright protected works from file exchange sites on the Internet. However, it will not be unlawful to download such media from file exchange programs such as Kazaa because such sites also offer legal downloading; that is to say downloading of media that has been published on the Internet with the full consent of the copyright holder.

Technical Protection Devices

The proposed changes also attempt to prohibit the circumvention of technical protection devices, such as software that is designed to restrict copying of a CD or music file. It will become an offence to manufacture, sell or distribute products and/or services primarily aimed at circumventing digital or analogue protection devices that prevent or limit the copying or public distribution of a copyright protected work. The actual circumvention of the device itself is also an offence.

However, it will be permissible to circumvent such devices in certain circumstances; for example, to allow a film that is lawfully owned by an individual to be played on an alternative operating system. Furthermore, the proposals do not extend to every protection device. The device must have been specifically designed, in normal use, to limit or prevent the availability or the reproduction of a copyright protected work. What is meant by 'effective' and 'normal use' remains to be seen.

As the planned timetable for implementation of these proposals has been delayed, they are not expected to be adopted before the end of 2004 and may be further delayed into 2005.

Written by Andreas Börjesson and Fredrik Malm.


Important - The information in this article is provided subject to the disclaimer. The law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.