Swedish Supreme Court Forbids Commercial Interruptions in Films

The Swedish Supreme Court decided on 18th March 2008 that TV commercials interrupting a film infringed the film director’s moral right.

A film is an artistic creation for which its author, the film director, enjoys moral rights. These rights imply that the author can object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honour or reputation.

Two Swedish film directors - Claes Eriksson and late Vilgot Sjöman - sued the Swedish commercial TV-station TV4 for infringing their moral rights by interrupting their feature films with commercial advertisements.

The Supreme Court decided that an advertisement inserted in a film implies that the „director’s interplay between the film’s different scenes is broken through the insertion of completely different environments and occurences“. According to the court, the interruption for advertisements draws the audience’s attention from the film to the advertisement slot and challenges the author’s “intended interplay between the film's different scenes”.

The court confirmed the district court decision and ordered TV4 to pay 300,000 kronor ($50,000) to the film directors to cover legal expenses.

This decision is seen as a major victory for the whole authors’ rights community in Sweden who joined forces to support the two film directors throughout the whole legal process.

Supreme Court decision (in Swedish)

In English: http://www.klys.se/the_judgement_Supreme_Court_18_March_2008.htm