Copyright Law

The Swedish Copyright Law (Act 1960:729), give all writers the same protection, regardless of nationality. The author(s) has the right to decide how their work(s) may be used. This law applies to all formats, including publication on the Internet.

When an author signs a contract with a publisher he/she also signs over part of the copyright to the publisher.

With regards to using other people´s texts, what rules apply?

See How do you avoid plagiarism?

Can anything be copyrighted?

The simple answer is yes. To be called a work, there should be a certain amount of independence (from other sources) and some degree of originality. In actual fact almost anything you write is automatically copyrighted as the law is interpreted today. All works are protected until 70 years after the death of the author (within EU). This means that, unless you have permission from the rightsholder, it is illegal to make and distribute copies of that work during this period. The same applies to those works that you produce.


  • Every person is allowed to make one copy for personal use (study or research) - computer software excepted. However, copying is only permitted for limited parts of books or other literary works even if it is for personal use.
  • Teachers are allowed, by special contract, to make copies for teaching purposes.

Photos and other illustrations

The basic rule is that the work is protected from its creation until 50 years after the death of the photographer for amateur photos and 70 years for photos taken by professional photographers. The majority of professional photographers use image agencies to control the use of their works.

Special case:
A photo of a work of art (for example a painting or a statue) - then you need not only permission from the photographer (or his/her employer or agency) but also from the artist or the owner of the artwork in question.

Many works of art have been documented by photography more than once. Some museums and some other institutions are making their photo collections (or parts of them) freely available for non-commercial use.

Tables and diagrams
These are also protected by the law. If you wish to use an illustration you have to cite it in the same manner as you do with text citations. When tables and diagrams have a distinct layout that is evidently original you must ask for permission to reproduce them in your work.

You are allowed to make your own table where you combine data that you have found in the literature (more than one source) or one other source and data that you yourself has collected through labwork or making an inquiry, etc.

Illustrations in general

Information about ownership of illustrations in a work is often given in a list of illustrations and/or close to each illustration.

This is illegal

  • You are not allowed to make copies of a copyright protected document and publish it on your (or any other) website without permission from the copyright owner
  • You are not allowed to copy computer software, not even for personal use.
  • Use photos and other illustrations without permission from the copyright owner.

This is legal

Official publications
You are allowed to re-publish official publications on your own web. But you must of course give the correct information about the origin of the material.

You are allowed to link to web pages owned by others if it is clear that when you click on the link you are redirected to an external web page.