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Sweden/ 5.2 Legislation on culture  

There is very little overarching legislation in the cultural field. Apart from general legislation adopted by parliament, there are however a great number of regulationsissued by the government to guide central institutions on the use of governmentfunds for various cultural purposes. The legal foundation for these is typically parliament decisions, especially budgetary decisions, as opposed to legislation.

The laws listed below are general laws enacted by parliament, which, together with parliamentary decisions such as the objectives for cultural policy, act as a framework for lower level decisions. These laws are discussed more in detail in  chapter 5.3.

Table 1:    Legislation on culture

Title of the act

Year of adoption

Freedom of the Press Act, Swedish Code of Statutes 1949:105


Copyright Law of Literary and Artistic Works, Swedish Code of Statutes 1960:729


Radio and Television Act, Swedish Code of Statutes 1966:755


Archive Law, Swedish Code of Statutes 1990:782


Heritage Commemoration Act, Swedish Code of Statutes 1988:950


Law on financing of radio and TV in the service of the public , Swedish Code of Statutes 1989:41


Law on the protection of the term Swedish Archive , Swedish Code of Statutes 1990:783


Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, Swedish Code of Statutes 1991:1469


Law on the transfer of public documents for storage to organs other than government agencies , Swedish Code of Statutes 1994:1383


Law on standards for the transmission of radio and TV signals, Swedish Code of Statutes 1998:31


Library Law, Swedish Code of Statutes 1996:1596


Law on the dissolutions of foundations in some cases, Swedish Code of Statutes  2001:845


Language Law, Swedish Code of Statutes 2009:600


Law on age limits for film that is to be shown publicly, Swedish Code of Statutes  2010:1882


Law on the distribution of certain government grants to regional cultural activities, Swedish Code of Statutes 2010:1919


Several of the laws on this list refers to the media, which is also specifically covered by the Freedom of the Press Act (a Fundamental Law), which regulates freedom of expression in print media. Others refer to the archives (also considered cultural heritage institutions) and to archiving procedures, and thus covered by that Fundamental law to the extent that they deal with access to public records. There are also the Language Law and the Heritage Commemoration Act (see chapter 5.3.3), but, as list shows, most of the main areas of cultural policy lacs specific legislation, excepting the copyright legislation.

Apart from national legislation, international documents signed by Sweden may also have the force of law. The following conventions and other international legal instruments related to culture have been adopted by Sweden. Please note that this list includes some of the more important and relevant documents, not all international agreements in this field.

  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (1996);
  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1904);
  • Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, (1985);
  • Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage (1985);
  • Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention (1985);
  • Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe (1992);
  • Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (1985);
  • Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003);
  • Convention on means to Prohibit and Prevent the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (2002);
  • Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, (2005);
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989);
  • European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1999);
  • European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (1993);
  • European Landscape Convention (2000);
  • Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1999);
  • International Convention for the Protection of Performers, producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (1962);
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1971);
  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (1996);
  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty (2010);
  • UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (2011).

(Sources: SOU 2003:121, updated from various other sources, including the Swedish Arts Council and the Ministry of Culture)

Chapter published: 16-05-2017

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