This page in Swedish


Illustration of a document with the word "copyright" written on it and a chain with a pad lock around the document.

Copyright protects the rights of the owners or creators of literary or artistic works. Copyright holders have the sole right to decide how, where or when their work may be used as well as the right to receive payment and acknowledgment when their work is used. Here we present information on copyright for students.

What is copyright?

The Swedish Copyright Act (Lag (1960:729) om upphovsrätt till litterära och konstnärliga verk) protects texts, paintings, photographs, sculptures, films, music and applied arts, but also computer programs and source codes. An original work is automatically protected by copyright from the moment of its creation and this gives the owner the sole right to decide how the work may be used. A work must be sufficiently original to be protected by copyright. In Sweden, copyright applies for the duration of the copyright holder’s life and a further 70 years after their death.

Copyright includes both financial and intellectual rights. Financial rights mean that copyright holders determine who may use and distribute their work, for example whether a song may be used in a film, or an image reproduced in a book, and are entitled to financial compensation when their work is used. Intellectual rights mean that copyright holders have the right to be acknowledged when their work is used as well as the right to object to copyright infringement.

Copyright therefore limits your right to use texts, music, images, or films produced by others. University students in Sweden are however exempted from some aspects of copyright through the Bonus Copyright Access agreement for higher education, which regulates how students and lecturers may reproduce and share copyrighted material for studies and teaching. It is always your responsibility to find out when and how you may use a work, and if it suffices to cite the copyright holder in your text or if you must obtain their permission to use their work. Expand the sections below for more information on copyright for students.  

You have the right to cite sources without obtaining permission

Students have the right to cite relevant parts of their course literature and other scholarly material, such as journal articles, as long as each quotation is clearly marked as a quotation and is cited in the running text with a reference to avoid plagiarism. However, graphics and tables are not included in your right to cite sources.

Graphics and tables

According to the Copyright Act, the copyright holder retains financial and intellectual rights to the design of graphics (such as illustrations, figures, diagrams, photographs, or images) and tables used in your source material. Citing the copyright holder is therefore insufficient when you reproduce graphics and tables in your text. If you want to use graphics or tables in your text in the same format used by the copyright holder, you must first obtain permission, unless the copyright holder has been deceased for more than 70 years. Permission must be obtained in writing and must be saved.

If you need to obtain permission, it is a good idea to contact the publishers of the source first who can help you to get in touch with the copyright holder. The copyright holder to a graphic/table is not necessarily the same person as the author of the work in which it appears. In your text, remember to indicate where the graphic/table was published originally. Also state that it has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.

If you cannot obtain the copyright holder’s permission to use an illustration, you have two options:

1. Describing the graphic in words. Instead of copying the graphic/table directly from the source, describe what it shows in running text.

Example:  To illustrate the balance that must be struck between administrative and educational needs, Biggs and Tang (2011, p. 314) identify two extreme positions. The first extreme (point X) is characterised by a lack of trust and described as best for the administration, while the other extreme (Y) is characterised by trust and described as the best for education. A mediocre educational institution would find itself closer to X on this scale, while a quality institution would be closer to Y.  

Reference: Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for Quality Learning at University (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill.

2. Designing your own graphic or table. Perhaps you wonder whether you are allowed to produce a graphic/table almost identically to the original. The answer is no. Even if you change the font or colour, the order of the columns, or use circles instead of triangles, you still need the permission of the copyright holder to modify their material.

In some cases, however, you can use the data presented as a table in your source to create a bar or pie chart, or vice versa. When producing such a chart, you only need to cite the source of your data. You may also combine two or more figures/tables to create a new one. When combining data from several sources, you process the information independently and contribute to knowledge development. In such cases you do not need the permission of copyright holders, but you must of course still cite the sources of your figures/tables properly. Always consult your supervisor to make sure that you have handled your source material correctly in your thesis.

You may need to use images in your written assignments or presentations. Some images available online may be used without obtaining permission or have Creative Commons (CC) licences. You are permitted to use these in your work, as long as you cite your sources properly.

A CC licence regulates what a user may/may not do with online material. The licence enables copyright holders to share their work on their terms. There are different types of CC licences and these may be combined. Include therefore always the name of the copyright holder, the link, and the CC licence/s when citing your sources.

Find the right image with Google (video, Karolinska Institutet, 3:26 min., English subtitles)
Creative Commons (video, Karolinska Institutet, 5:10 min., English subtitles)

Find images that can be used without obtaining permission at

Literature and other materials used in your studies are generally protected by copyright. The Bonus Copyright Access agreement for higher education gives you some usage rights. Students are for example permitted to copy limited parts of a published work to prepare for assessment. You are not permitted to copy a whole course book or even half of one, but only a limited number of pages or sections, such as a chapter you need to read to prepare for an exam.

The 15/15 rule

According to the agreement, you are permitted to copy, download and share a text with your classmates, digitally or in person, if you keep to the 15/15 rule. This permits you to copy up to 15% or up to 15 pages of a source, depending on its length. The lowest number of pages applies. You may therefore only copy 6 pages of a 40-page book, or 15 pages of a 300-page book. You may however copy a whole chapter if it is only a few pages longer than 15 pages.

Simplified rule
If the text is ≤ 100 pages, you may copy a maximum of 15% (total number of pages x 0.15)
If the text is ≥ 100 pages, you may copy a maximum of 15 pages.

You may also copy or download single articles from the University Library’s e-journals, upload them to Blackboard Learn, or share them with your classmates. However, you are not permitted to distribute copyrighted journal articles or republish them on the internet or via other channels.

Bonus Copyright Access (video, Karolinska Institutet, 3:52 min., English subtitles)

E-books and e-journals

Örebro University Library has separate licensing agreements with different publishers and providers of e-books and e-journals. These agreements determine what students are permitted to do with electronic versions of specific books and journals and replace the regulations in the Bonus Copyright Access agreement. Licensing agreements give you the right to copy or print sections of e-books, but the permitted extent is regulated by the specific agreement. The number of pages you may copy or print therefore varies. Sometimes these agreements are more generous than the Bonus Copyright Access agreement, and the details are usually available on each e-book platform.

Generally, you may also copy or download single articles from the University Library’s e-journals, upload them to Blackboard Learn, or share them with classmates. However, you are not permitted to distribute copyrighted journal articles or republish on the internet or via other channels.

Teaching material

Remember that your lecturers retain copyright to their presentations and any other teaching materials they produce. You are therefore for example not permitted to publish their presentations on YouTube or to spread them beyond the course platform in Blackboard. If you obtain permission to record a lecture, the recording is for personal use only and may not be distributed.

As a student at Örebro University, you hold the copyright to anything you create as part of your studies. This may include texts, presentations, music, artwork or photographs. If anyone wants to use this material in teaching or in other contexts, they must obtain your permission first. You can use different CC licences to indicate that you have the right to be acknowledged for your work and to determine how it may be used by others.

If you use copyrighted material without obtaining permission from the copyright holder, you risk being sued for copyright infringement. Please contact the University Library if you are uncertain about what applies in your situation.