Photographing works of art

Our campus is full of great art, but there are some things you need to think about before publishing images of artwork, as the work of artists is protected by copyright law. This means that in most cases you need permission to reproduce artwork in images.

Copyright for works of art

Artistic works are protected by copyright for the lifetime of the author and then for another 70 years, as counted from the originator's year of death. After the death of an artist, the rights are inherited by the deceased's family.

Permission is usually required

As a general rule, you must obtain permission to reproduce works of art and other images protected by copyright. Reproduction means, for example, publishing on the web or social media, in printed products or on promotional products.

Exceptions if the artwork is not the main focus of the image

An exception to the general rule on licensing is if the artwork appears in the background of an image or is an insignificant part of an image. In such case, the image may be used freely without first obtaining permission. For example, you may take a photo in a room where a painting is hanging on the wall or a campus photo in which the Norra skenet sculpture is visible, but where the artwork is not the main focus of the image.

Read more about when images of works of art can be used freely

Obtaining a licence for individual reproductions

If the artist in question is a member of the organisation Bildupphovsrätt, you can obtain a licence through them if you want to publish photos of the artwork.

If the artist is not affiliated with Bildupphovsrätt, you must contact the artist directly to reach an agreement on if and how the image of the artwork may be used and to agree on compensation for this. If the artist is dead and less than 70 years have passed since their death, you must contact the artist's next of kin.

Checklist when photographing works of art

Find out who the artist is

Find out who is the artist of the work you want to publish a photo of.

Is the artist affiliated with Bildupphovsrätt?

Find out whether the artist is a member of Bildupphovsrätt; see their membership list. If the artist is a member, you must request permission via Bildupphovsrätt. Bildupphovsrätt then handles contact with the artist or their next of kin.

Submit a request

Submit a written request. Provide the following information:

  • Which work of art is involved and the name of the artist. Attach the image you intend to use.
  • Is the artwork located indoors or outdoors?
  • How you intend to use the image, where it will be published, number of publications, etc. See Bildupphovsrätt's price list.
  • Wait for a quote from Bildupphovsrätt and then decide whether you want to accept it.

Delve deeper

Video in Swedish

Anja Axelsson