Copyright protects music, film, literature and other creations, such as sculptures, furniture, lamps and building art.

The source code of a computer program is also protected by copyright. In order to be granted copyright, the work must meet the threshold of originality, i.e. what you created must have a certain degree of originality. In Sweden, it is not possible to apply for copyright protection, as the rights are triggered automatically when a work is created. In Sweden, copyright applies for a period of 70 years after the death of the author.

Within copyright law, a distinction is made between economic and moral rights. 

The holder of economic rights to a work is the one who decides whether and, if so how, the work may be used and disseminated, e.g. whether a song can be used in an advertising film, a novel can be published as part of a collection of novels, or a photo can be used for a poster. The economic rights always accrue to the person or people who created a work, but they can be transferred to someone else through an agreement, e.g. a book publishing company, a photographic agency, the company which employs the copyright holder or STIM (the Swedish Performing Rights Society) or a record company if the person who owns the copyright is a musician. 

Moral rights means that the author has the right to be named if a work is used - anyone who quotes from a book must state the name of the author. There must also be respect for the work; you must not alter it or insult the author. 

Even if the protection for a work which is covered by copyright arises without any formal procedure being followed, i.e. without any requirement for registration, enforcing the protection can be a complicated process. Copyright law contains many exceptions and limitations. Within working life, the right to a copyright-protected work is also regulated by other legislation and many agreements. It is therefore a good idea to seek advice from your industry organisation, for example, before doing any deals which could be affected by copyright.

Read more about copyright in the PRV School online

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