The Legal Position of Correspondence from a Copyright Perspective : With Particular Focus on the Moment of Publication

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Rättsvetenskap


Correspondence is written forms of communications, for example, SMS, E-mail, or letters, and when something is written, it may constitute a literary work protected by copyright. As there is no formal procedure for acquiring copyright, it is not always easy to determine when it exists and therefore know how to impose common rules.

In Sweden, the moment of publication of a literary work is when an author makes his work available to the public. This occurs when a work is presented publicly, displayed publicly, or when copies are distributed to the public. This moment is imperative due to the legal effects that enter into force when a work is published. Until the point in time when a work is published, an author has absolute rights to his work, meaning that it is not possible to use a work legally without the author’s consent.

As correspondence is a mean of communication, it is inherent in its nature to be transferred to someone else in order to fulfil its purpose. This means that an author has technically published his work the moment he sends it to someone else. However, arguments are raised in case law that a work cannot be published unless the author has intended it to be.

This thesis concludes that both assessments of when a work is published are in fact correct. The important aspect that has to be considered when assessing if a work is published or not, is the intended usage of the protected work. Consequently, one may use the results of this thesis either as an argument to apply unbiased provisions of law, in accordance to their wording, or to apply subjective assessments on a case-to-case basis, in order to find an optimal solution.

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