Swedish Ordinance on the Limitation of Terms of Protection, Stockholm (1841)

Source: Swensk Författnings-Samling, No. 71, 1841. Kongl. Maj:ts och Riksens Ständers faststälde Tryckfrihets-förordning; Dat. Örebro den 16 Julii 1812. Med de derefter, och sist wid Riksdagen i Stockholm åren 1840 och 1841, af Konungens och Riksens Ständer antagna förändringar. Location: National Archives of Sweden.

Swedish Ordinance on the Limitation of Terms of Protection, Stockholm (1841), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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1841. No. 71.

Swedish Legal Compilation.

Royal Majesty's and the Estates of the Realm's Established FREEDOM OF THE PRESS ORDINANCE.

Dated Örebro, 16 July 1812.

With the subsequent changes, and lastly at the Riksdag in Stockholm in the years 1840 and 1841, adopted by the King and the Estates of the Realm.

We, CARL, by the Grace of God, King of Sweden, Goths, and Vandals, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, and Dithmarschen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, etc., make it known: that since the Estates of the Realm, now assembled, have unanimously decided to amend the previously applicable Freedom of the Press Ordinance of 9 March 1810, in certain respects, and this thus amended law has been submitted for Our gracious approval, We, by virtue of the authority conferred upon Us by section 85 of


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the Instrument of Government, have chosen to adopt, approve, and confirm this Freedom of the Press Ordinance, as consented to by the Estates of the Realm, in the following manner:


We, the undersigned Estates of the Swedish Realm, Counts, Barons, Bishops, Nobility, Clergy, Burghers, and Common People, presently assembled here in Örebro for an Extraordinary Riksdag, wish to make it known: that in accordance with the principles set forth in the Instrument of Government adopted by Us on June 6, 1809, and subsequently approved by the King and the Estates, the freedom of the press has been granted to the Swedish people, as stipulated in the 86th section of the said Constitution: 'Freedom of the press shall mean the right of every Swedish citizen to, without any obstacles imposed by the public authorities, publish his or her thoughts in print. Preliminary censorship and other preventive measures shall not be used unless the content would violate the law and endanger the safety of the State. Should this occur, any such preventive measure may be cited in court.' We hereby declare that every person is free and entitled to express his thoughts openly and freely on any subject, in any form of writing, while adhering to the limitations and restrictions on the abuse of this freedom, as outlined below, in accordance with the general laws of the realm. This freedom of expression applies to matters concerning the internal peace and external security of the State, as well as other matters,


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without regard to whether they pertain to the present or the past, living individuals or the deceased. In consequence of this, and to fulfil the obligations placed upon those who may be called upon to legally assess violations of this freedom of the press, we have deemed it necessary to safeguard the innocence of all citizens who may be subject to such proceedings. To this end, and in order to secure freedom of the press in a manner consistent with the rights of civil society and the legitimate demands of every citizen, we hereby establish and decree the following regulations:


Section 1

All previously existing laws, provisions, and regulations concerning freedom of the press or book trade are hereby repealed. Consequently, all previous specific prohibitions on the publication of certain books, writings, and documents are also null and void. These shall not be subject to prosecution except as prescribed by this Freedom of the Press Act.

The term 'writing' as used in this Act shall mean everything that is presented to the public by means of printing. The term 'periodical writing' shall mean one which is published in numerical order or at specified intervals.


2. No prior examination of writings or any prohibition against their printing shall take place. Nor shall any writing be required to be submitted to the printer, publisher, or author before its publication, nor shall any oversight over printing houses or authors and publishers prejudicial to printing and publishing be permitted. Provided, however, that the old rights of institutions of learning to oversee and approve such works as are to be publicly defended in their lecture halls shall remain in force.


3. No privileges for the publication of writings, of whatever form and nature they may be, shall be required henceforth; the right to publication by printing shall be free, without any such privilege,


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but the previously acquired exclusive right shall remain intact. Such exclusive right shall not henceforth be granted for a longer time than twenty years. Already granted exclusive rights shall remain in force for the lifetime of the recipient alone. Privileges for the publication of writings granted for the support of public institutions shall not be valid for a longer time than twenty years, reckoned from the date of this law, but it shall remain with His Majesty the King to renew them each time for a period not exceeding twenty years.


4. The publisher of a newspaper or periodical shall register, along with the title and place of printing, with the Minister of Justice, who has the authority, unless the applicant has been convicted of a disgraceful crime or declared unworthy to act as an agent for others, to issue a certificate that there is no impediment to the publication of the writing.


5. Privileges for printing presses shall not be required, but everyone is free to establish such printing presses, of whatever nature or size they may be, without being subject to any particular regulation, older privileges, or any printing press regulations, and without being bound by any guild rules, within a city or within a distance from it of at most half a Swedish mile (3 km).

When a printing press is thus established outside a city, all cases related to printing, whether involving the printer, workers in the printing press, or the authors and publishers of printed works, shall be under the jurisdiction of the city.

When a new printing press is established, it is required that, at least thirty days before any publication is issued from it, notice shall be given in writing to both the municipal authority of the city where the printing press is established and to the royal officer in charge of the city. Neglecting to do so shall incur a penalty of one hundred Riksdalers, and the offense shall be published in the newspapers. If any illegal work is published from a printing press that has not been properly reported as prescribed, both the unlawful printer and the author


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shall be subject to the same penalties and responsibilities for the content and text of the publication, and the printing press shall be forfeited to the prosecutor. Once the establishment of a printing press has been reported to the King's county governor, it shall be his duty to promptly inform the Minister of Justice.


6. Authors are not obliged to have their names printed on their works. Whether they wish to remain anonymous or not, they are required to provide the printer with a sealed document containing their name and place of residence, accompanied by a written certificate attesting to the accuracy of this information, issued by two well-known Swedish citizens residing in Sweden. These individuals shall assume responsibility for the authorship if the publication is brought to trial within the legal time frame, and the author's name and residence is found to be inaccurately provided in the sealed document or if the document is missing the author's name and residence, or if the author, without legal excuse, fails to appear in court. If a printer discloses an author's name and residence when not legally required by the judge, he shall be fined two hundred Riksdalers, and his offense shall be published in the newspapers.


7. The person who publishes a foreigner's work or a translation thereof, or an inland author's work who has not indicated their name, shall have the same rights, obligations, and responsibilities as an author in all cases where this Law does not state otherwise. Publishers of newspapers and periodical publications shall always, in terms of responsibility, be considered as authors, and it is incumbent upon them, under equal obligation, to ensure that the conditions further stipulated in this Law are strictly observed during their publication.


8. At the beginning of the trial, the printer is obliged to submit the author's name to the court. In any other case, he shall bear the responsibility of the author unless the author voluntarily discloses themselves to the judge. When it concerns proceedings against newspapers or periodical publications, the name of the publisher shall be disclosed by the Minister of Justice following the aforementioned notification. The judge has the right to immediately open the name's envelope after it has been submitted and thereby reveal the true party to the court.


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If, at the end of the trial, the judge finds that the prosecutor initiated the proceedings in an unjust case, resulting in the breaking of the name seal, the prosecutor shall be liable to a fine of One Hundred Riksdalers.


If a printer affixes the names to a publication without the permission of the author or publisher, they shall be punished in accordance with Chapter 8, Section 3 of the Penal Code.

If a printer affixes the names to a publication without the permission of the author or publisher, they shall be punished in accordance with Chapter 8, Section 3 of the Penal Code.


Every publication shall be the property of the author or his lawful holder. However, if the author's heirs or lawful holders do not exercise the publishing rights within twenty years from the author's death, and if such exercise is not renewed by them every twentieth year, anyone may openly publish the writings left by the author. Anyone who prints or reprints a publication without the written consent of the author, or their lawful holder shall forfeit the entire edition, or pay a fine equal to its value, to the owner.

The same law shall apply if anyone prints or reprints the translation of a foreign publication prepared by another person, or presents their translation as the work of someone else. However, the ownership rights of the translator shall not prevent anyone else from publishing another translation of the same publication.

The publisher of newspapers and periodicals has not violated the author's ownership rights when publishing anonymous writings submitted to them. Anyone who fraudulently puts a false title page or incorrect author or publisher name on a publication shall be punished according to Chapter 8 of the Penal Code. The use of a fictitious name that does not identify an actual person is not prohibited when the true author's name has been provided.


10. On each publication, the Printer's name, place of printing, and the year must be stated. If a Printer neglects such requirements, they shall be fined three hundred Riksdalers for the first time and six hundred Riksdalers for the second time. If it happens for the third time, they shall forfeit their Printing Office. If someone falsely attributes a printed work to a Printer or wrongly indicates the place of printing, they shall also be subject to the provisions


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