Filing of a literary work in court proceedings constitutes a breach of the Swedish Copyright Act

The Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal have ruled that the act of electronically submitting a short novel to the court as evidence in a court case constitutes an unlawful reproduction of the work and in breach with the Swedish Copyright Act. However, the filing of the work was not considered as a communication to the public or that the work was otherwise distributed to the public.

A parent had submitted a private novel/letter written by her former partner in a custody dispute. The father who was the author of the novel/letter, and lost the custody case, then sued his former partner arguing that her submitting the novel/letter to the court was an unlawful communication to the public as well as an unlawful reproduction of his work.

Although infringing, the Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal found the reproduction being so insignificant that no remuneration was awarded the author.

The case might raise the question if an attorney can become jointly liable with his/her client for copyright infringement when filing a copyright protected work in a court proceeding.