Swedish Freedom of the Press Ordinance, Stockholm (1810)

Source: Kong. Maj:ts Och Riksens Ständers Faststälde Tryckfrihets-Förordning; Dat. Stockholm den 9 Martii 1810. Cum Gratia & Privilegio S:æ R:æ Maj:tis. STOCKHOLM, Tryckt i Kongl. Tryckeriet, 1810.

Swedish Freedom of the Press Ordinance, Stockholm (1810), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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"We, CARL, by the Grace of God, King of Sweden, Goths and Wends, Duke of Schleswig Holstein, Stormarn and Ditmarsen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, etc., etc., hereby make it known that since the Estates of the Realm have unanimously adopted and ratified the Freedom of the Press Ordinance, which, in accordance with Section 85 of the Constitution, should be jointly adopted by the King and the Estates at this Diet, and which has now been submitted for Our Gracious approval, We, in accordance with the rights granted to Us under the aforementioned Section, wish to adopt, approve, and confirm this Freedom of the Press Ordinance approved by the Estates of the Realm, exactly as follows:


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We, the undersigned Estates of the Swedish Realm, Counts, Barons, Bishops, Nobility, Clergy, Burghers, and Common People, now assembled here in Stockholm for the General Diet, hereby declare: As provided for in the Constitution accepted by Us on 6 June of the preceding year and ratified by the King and the Estates, the Freedom of the Press has been granted to the Swedish People, by virtue of the provision in Article 86 of the said Constitution, which defines Freedom of the Press as every Swedish man's right to publish writings without any prior restrictions imposed by the public authorities, to be held accountable before a Legal Court of law for their content, and not to be punished otherwise unless the content violates clear law intended to preserve public peace and not to impede public enlightenment. Therefore, and with regard to the aims thus prescribed, We hereby declare that everyone is free and open to express and communicate his thoughts in any form of writing, subject to the regulations against the abuse of Freedom of the Press, which shall be expressly stipulated below in accordance with the General Law of the Realm, with regard to the internal peace and external security of the State, as well as the sanctity associated with the Highest Power, the Authority, the individual Citizen, and Morals related to it, in any subject, regardless of whether it concerns this Realm, foreign lands, the present time, or the past, living persons, or the deceased. As a result of this, and along with our obligation to all those who may be legally


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judged for offenses in the general press, to be the defendant's legal defence and protection, We have, to ensure Freedom of the Press in a manner consistent with the legitimate demands of a Civil Society and every Citizen, wished to stipulate and prescribe the following:

Section 1

1. All previously applicable laws, provisions, and regulations concerning Freedom of the Press or Book Trade are hereby repealed, and as a consequence of this, all previously issued specific prohibitions on the publication of certain books, writings, and documents are also nullified; these shall not be subject to prosecution except as prescribed by this Freedom of the Press Ordinance.

2. No examination of the writing prior to printing, or any prohibition against its printing, shall take place. No written work shall be required to be submitted to the printer, publisher, or author before its publication, nor shall any inspection impeding the printing or publication of works be permitted; however, educational institutions shall retain their previous authority to review and approve the dissertations that are publicly defended in their lecture halls.

3. No privileges for the publication of writings, regardless of their form or nature, shall be required from now on. For every author or publisher, the right to publish from print shall be free, except where others have already obtained exclusive rights, which shall remain intact. Such exclusive rights shall not be granted for a longer period than twenty years from now on. Those already granted for an indefinite period shall be valid only for the lifetime of the recipient. Privileges for the publication of writings granted in support of public institutions shall not be in force for a longer period than twenty years, counted from the date of this Ordinance, with His Royal Majesty retaining the right to renew them each time for a maximum of twenty years.

4. No privileges for printing houses shall be required, but everyone shall be free to establish such printing houses within a city, or at a maximum distance of one-half Swedish mile [i.e., 6 km] from it, always subject to the city's jurisdiction, without being subject to any


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laws or regulations pertaining to printing or any trade guild ordinances, of whatever nature or size seems suitable to him. However, he shall be required to notify the High Governor's Office and the Magistrate in Stockholm, as well as the Governor's Office and the City Magistrate in the areas where the establishment is located, thirty days before any publication leaves the establishment, stating that he has established a printing house and where it is located. It is the responsibility of the Royal Majesty's local authorities to promptly inform the Court Chancellor of such matters by express mail.

5. Authors shall not be obligated to have their names printed on the published work. Whether they wish to remain anonymous or not, it is their responsibility to provide the printer with a sealed note containing their names and places of residence, accompanied by a written certification of the accuracy of these details from two well-known individuals known to the printer, who shall bear responsibility for the author in case the work is prosecuted within a legal timeframe and the author's name and place of residence are found to have been falsely stated or omitted from the note. If a printer reveals an author's name and place of residence without being legally ordered by the judge to do so, he shall be fined two hundred Riksdalers, and his offense shall be published in the public newspapers.

6. Publishers of foreign works in translation or of works by domestic authors who have not provided their names, as well as publishers of periodical writings or collections of writings by multiple authors, have the same rights, obligations, and responsibilities as authors in all cases not otherwise specified in this Ordinance.

7. For the content or style of a publication, no printer shall be held accountable, except in cases where he has neglected to provide himself with the sealed note as prescribed in Section 5 or when the name of an author or publisher is affixed to a publication without their consent or when such a name cannot be disclosed as stipulated below in Section 8 of this clause.

8. Every publication shall be the property of the author or its lawful rights holder. Anyone who prints or reprints a publication without the written permission of the author or publisher shall forfeit the edition or be fined its full value, at the discretion of the injured party.


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This law does not apply to translators except when a translator misuses someone else's name or reprints this work, or presents his translation as someone else's.

Publishers of collections or periodical writings do not infringe on an author's ownership rights when they publish the author's unpublished work in them while withholding the author's name. Anyone who falsely puts on another work a title page, or an incorrect author or publisher name, shall be punished in accordance with Chapter 8, Section 3 of the Penal Code. A fictitious name that does not identify any real person is not prohibited from being used on the title page when the author's correct sealed note has been provided.

[Likely 9.] On every publication, the printer's name, place of printing, and the year shall be indicated. If a printer neglects to do so, he shall be fined three hundred Riksdalers for the first offense and six hundred Riksdalers for the second offense. If it happens a third time, he shall forfeit his printing house. If anyone falsely puts a printer's name or incorrect place of printing on a publication, they shall also be subject to punishment under Chapter 8, Section 3 of the Penal Code. However, what is stipulated here regarding the indication of names and places shall not apply to notifications, condolences, forms, bidding notes, and similar documents of such nature.

10. Of everything that is printed, the printer shall be obliged to remove from the edition and deliver without charge as many copies as are required for the universities within the realm, the Royal Library, the National Archives, and the Royal Academy of Sciences, each receiving one copy. If a work is accompanied by expensive plates, such plates shall only be delivered unconditionally to the Royal Library.

11. No hindrance shall exist for free bookselling or for the distribution for sale of any publication, whether domestic or foreign. Every author or publisher is free to distribute a publication belonging to him by virtue of such status, either personally or through others. There shall be no obstacles to his continued distribution other than those prescribed in Section 4 and Section 10 of this Ordinance.

12. Under the term 'publication,' as used in this Ordinance, one shall understand anything that is made available through printing for the public to see.


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Section 2

1. In accordance with the principles laid down above for general and lawful Freedom of the Press, every author shall have the freedom, subject to the reservations stipulated in Section 3 below, to publish his thoughts on anything that is or may become the subject of human knowledge through print. It clearly follows that, with due regard to the mentioned reservations, no kind of science or branch of knowledge, whatever its subject may be, the Supreme Being, Humanity, the World, or Society, can be exempted from allowable topics. Nor can any kind of existing or future law or public ordinance, or any kind of official work or public institution, or any kind of decision, institution, or action emanating from any authority acting in an official capacity, be exempted.

2. For every subject of writing, the style, unless it clearly stands out as disgraceful or defamatory, shall be at the discretion of every author.

3. In accordance with what is stipulated in Section 1, Paragraph 3, every author or publisher shall be allowed, under the sole condition of respecting the sanctity of others' ownership rights, to publish writings of any form, size, or nature.

4. Based on what is stipulated in Section 1, Paragraph 1 of this clause, it shall also be explicitly allowed for everyone, with the exceptions and conditions stipulated below for the publisher's better compliance, to publish in general print all, including proceedings as well as other public matters related to documents, records, and decisions of any name and nature, whether they pertain to the past or to cases that may arise in the future, whether they are at the Supreme Court, the Lower Judicial Revision, the Public Preparation, Upper and Lower Courts, Boards, Committees, Preparations, Directions, Commissioners, Administrations, the King's Delegates, Consistories, Execution Seats, or other public works, without distinction as to the nature of the cases being Civil, Criminal, Economic, Military, or Ecclesiastical; furthermore, all existing or future instructions, constitutions, regulations, statutes, ordinances,


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privileges, rescripts, and general ordinances, issued from wherever, along with all the relations of the aforementioned higher and lower courts, colleges, offices, public corporations, and all officials and employees, memorials, applications, proposals, reports, complaints, and responses thereto, as far as the parts thereof that pertain to the handling of public officials and works, and shall be for that purpose, not only shall all such documents at courts and other aforementioned works and offices be delivered promptly and without delay upon request, to anyone, whether he has a stake in the matter or not, under penalty, such as for neglect of duty, if such a request is denied by any public servant or is unduly delayed, but also under the same penalty, everyone shall be granted free access to all archives, to obtain on the spot or have copied, or, if significant obstacles are encountered, to obtain copies with proper payment, of all kinds of documents on any subject whatsoever.

In addition to the previous permission, the following exceptions and conditions shall be strictly observed:

That protocols held by the King in ministerial matters and command cases, or at the Council of State's protocols and documents, or at the Estates of the Realm's, or the Secret Committee's, or the Constitutional Committee's documents regarding the Council of State or the National Debt Office's works, or the National Debt and State Committees, or the Auditors' supervision over the National Debt and State Works, regarding the same works' confidential matters, cannot be demanded for printing or obtained without the consent of the parties concerned. The publication of such documents from print without the consent of the parties concerned shall be subject to a fine of one hundred Riksdalers. Similarly, with the same penalty and the liability set forth in Chapter 4, Section 5 of the Penal Code, public officials are prohibited from publicly disseminating anything through print that, in accordance with the Laws and Regulations in accordance with the Constitution, requires them to keep confidential and secret.

That no ministerial documents or private notes or reports on ministerial matters, including those of diplomatic persons, pertaining to a more recent period than at least fifty years ago,


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