Swedish court fines owners of database for illegally using articles- Carl Selling vs Mediearkivet Svenska AB

On 7 April, the district court of Stockholm ruled in favour of a freelance journalist in a case brought against the Mediearkivet company – which operates a database containing articles from several Swedish newspapers and magazines. The court ordered Mediearkivet to pay 1.500 EURO to the freelance journalist for illegally using two of his articles, originally sold to the newspaper "Göteborg-Posten", and available on-line for a period of five months.

The company - which is co-owned by a number of Swedish publishers- claimed that the articles had not been made available to the public since none of their clients had read the articles during that particular period. The company also claimed that the journalist should have sued the newspaper "Göteborgs-Posten" instead, with whom the journalist had entered into an agreement regarding the two articles, and from which Mediearkivet had received the material. Mediearkivet claimed that their database was an "archive containing the newspaper 'Göteborgs-Posten'" and that they therefore did not "publish" the articles. Mediarkivet also claimed that the 1.500 euro fine was completely outrageous considering the total amount of articles stored in this specific archive.

The Swedish Union of Journalist, which supported the freelance journalist, argued that such a use should entitle the journalist to a remuneration which should not be less than the remuneration granted for a daily newspaper use ( such as "Göteborgs-Posten" ). Nor should the remuneration be less than a remuneration granted for a database available for free ( eg: a web page) . The court accepted these arguments.

Court decision in Swedish