Sweden: An important breakthrough for freelance writers

The Swedish collecting society ALIS – a collecting society for literary freelancers such as journalists, bookwriters, playwrights –concluded an agreement with one of the major players of the Swedish “on-line-market”, Mediearkivet Svenska AB. Mediearkivet is a company which runs a database ( www. mediearikivet .se ) containing literary works, mainly articles, which have previously been published in newspapers and magazines.


The founders of ALIS– amongst others The Swedish Union of Journalists and The Swedish Union of Writers – are together with ALIS parties in the agreement, in which Mediearkivet is obliged to pay 2.9 million Swedish crowns ( 400.000 euro ) in compensation for 1) being able to legally use literary freelance material ( articles, poems etc ) for the year 2004, and 2) for having illegally used such material before 2004.


Several claims from Swedish authors have been addressed to Mediearkivet for a number of years. In two cases these infringements have been subject to verdicts from the court and the district court of Stockholm ruled in favour of the freelancers ( journalists/writers ).


In the last case dated April 2003 Mediearkivet was obliged to pay both 5.000 Swedish crowns ( 600 euro) in fees for the use of two articles in their on-line-database for a period of five months, and 7.000 Swedish crowns in damages ( 800 euro ).


ALIS and the founders of ALIS claimed, according to an invoice dated April 2003, a compensation for a sum of 17 million Swedish crowns ( 2 million euro ) due to the fact that the company was illegally using – and had been using – copyright protected freelance material, from a vast number of authors. This invoice has, thank to the newly concluded agreement, been credited.


The contract also stipulates that the parties shall open up negotiations in autumn 2004, well before the termination of the agreement on the 31st of December 2004, in order to conclude an agreement for 2005 and henceforth.


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www. mediearkivet. se is an “on-line-database” which contains articles and other literary works which have been published in several Swedish newspapers and magazines ( e. g. Aftonbladet the largest daily newspaper in northern Europe, with a circulation of almost 1 million copies ). The material in Mediearkivet are available upon subscription. The clients of Mediearkivet are primarily companies, authorities, schools, universities and libraries, which use the database for research. The incomes of Mediearkivet comes primarily from subscriptions fees and fees where the articles are being transferred to the clients PC, on which the articles may be copied. The company also receives incomes from advertisement in connection to their database.