Finding & Reusing Images
Images are protected according to the Swedish Copyright Act (URL:1960:729). To reuse an image, you need permission from the creator, unless the specific reuse is allowed according to exceptions stipulated in the copyright act or if there is a license that allows the reuse.
According to the Swedish Copyright Act, artistic works, such as images, illustrations, photographs, and works of art automatically protected until 70 years have passed after the death of its creator. The law states that the creator has both a right to economic compensation, and a moral right to always be given credit if his/her work is used. If you wish to use a work that has been created by someone else in, for example your presentation, publication, or teaching session, please note that you often have an obligation to get the copyright holder’s permission first. The creator can choose to make their image available for reuse in different ways, for example by licensing it.
Depending on the type of work and what usage is intended, different rules may apply. For example, The Swedish Copyright Act makes certain allowances for scholarly texts. The right to cite applies to literary works (chapter 2 22 §), but not to works of art. However, works of art that have been made public may be reproduced in accordance with chapter 2 23 §, which specifically addresses reproductions made in scholarly works, critiques and newspapers/journals. Read the terms in the law, chapter 2 23 §.
Maps and some other works of a describing nature are not identified as illustrations or works of art according to the Swedish Copyright Law, instead they are considered literary works, see chapter 1, 1 § and can thereby be cited.
The Agreement with Bonus Copyright Access
Lund University has an agreement with the Reproduction Rights Organization Bonus Copyright Access which allows for certain reuse of published works without the need to seek permission, for education purposes within the higher education institution. Read more about the Agreement for Higher Education Institutions.
Seek permission to reuse an image
If exceptions in the Copyright Act are not applicable for your intended reuse or the image is not covered by a license or other agreement, you need to seek permission with all copyright owners in order to reuse the image. The permission may be sought in different ways.
- If the creator is represented by a copyright organisation, such as the association Bildupphovsrätt (BUS), you can get the permission through them. If you get the permission through BUS, you always pay a royalty fee, see BUS price list. There is usually a similar set up abroad and there are often agreements in place between the different national organisations.
- If the creator is not represented by such an organisation you must contact him/her directly and ask for permission to reproduce their image. The creator always has the right to ask for compensation. In cases where the creator cannot be reached, or identified, this does not mean you have the right to reproduce the image.
- describe the context and where the image will be published in your request.
- get the permission in writing.
- Check if the image has more than one copyright owner. Please find more information below under Find the creator/copyright owner.
A letter template for seeking permission is available at Stockholm University Library's website: Guides for publishing contracts and permission requests.
- There may be one or more copyright owners to an image. Apart from the photographer/illustrator, there may be other copyright owners if, for example, the image is depicting a person or an object, or if someone other than the photographer arranged the motif (this person will then also hold copyright to the image). When it comes to pictures of works of art, the photographer and creator of the photographed piece, own the copyright. To reuse a portrait ordered by a private citizen requires consent from the client (and the person portrayed, should they be two different persons).
- Who owns the copyright may also vary. If the image has been published in a journal, the publisher may own the economic rights, while the photographer/illustrator owns the moral rights to the image. If you are unsure, contact both the publisher and the creator.
- Tricky to find? If a publisher has gone out of business, the rights may have been acquired by another company. If the creator is deceased, the publisher, or the creator’s previous place of work, may potentially have the contact details of his/her heirs. You are welcome to contact us if you are unsure of how to proceed.