Swedish Public Lending Right Scheme
According to Swedish copyright legislation, an originator has the right, in principle, to compensation whenever his or her book is used. The law does, however, allow for several exceptions to this principle. For instance, when a book has been published, it may be freely distributed. This implies that any library that has bought a book has the right to lend it; an author cannot oppose this and (s)he has no legal right to compensation. This is a restriction in the copyright legislation acting on the cultural political aims to allow the people free use of libraries.
In 1954, the State undertook to provide remuneration for public lending. The new scheme, however, was a part of the cultural legislation and the restriction in the copyright legislation remained.
Since the very beginning, library loan compensation has been based on a specific sum per borrowed book, to be transferred to the Swedish Authors' Fund – a Government authority but with a Board on which the majority of the seats are held by individuals appointed by the organizations representing the originators. The scheme has been successively developed. Currently, compensation is paid for home loans as well as for the use of reference books in libraries. It covers books originally written in Swedish and translations to and from Swedish.
The rules for Public Lending Right distribution and the amount of compensation were originally determined unilaterally by the State. In late 1985, however, the Swedish Writers' Union, the Association of Swedish Illustrators and the Association of Swedish Professional Photographers reached an agreement with the Government about a system of negotiations on the rate of the compensation.
In 2017 the compensation for each loan of a book written in Swedish is SEK 1.60, making a total appropriation for 2017 of SEK 156.8 million.
Compensation is paid for loans, and reference copies, of literary works 1) written in Swedish, 2) translated to and from Swedish and 3) by authors permanently residing in Sweden.
Within the framework of the public lending right, payments are made to authors, translators and illustrators both in the form of lending based remuneration (including the "individually-awarded remuneration") and in the form working grants lasting several years and supplementary pensions. Both the multi-year grants and the “Individually-awarded remuneration” are intended for creators with solidly-documented professional ambitions/experience.
The public lending right, as defined and structured in national cultural policy, makes it possible to bring to fruition the arts policy ambition of improving the working conditions and increasing the opportunities for well-qualified authors, translators, illustrators and photographers to pursue their literary ambitions at professional level.
The general rules regarding Swedish Public Lending Right are established by the Government and the Parliament in a special ordinance concerning the Swedish Authors’ Fund.