The Swedish Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the association BUS — that defends copyright for graphic and visual artists — in its dispute against the Wikimedia Foundation that manages the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
BUS sued Wikimedia for reproducing and diffusing photos of artworks for free without the consent of the artists in question, although certain photographs were taken in public spaces.
The decision, focusing on the debate on freedom of panorama, foresees an exception to copyright by authorising the sharing of photographs and videos taken in public spaces if three conditions are met: the photos are taken in a public space by a private individual and for non-profit purposes. The Swedish Supreme Court considered it necessary to establish a distinction between private use and the use of a free, unlimited database which, despite being non-commercial, is nonetheless considered to “have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable”. The Swedish branch of Wikimedia made the following comment on the outcome: “The Supreme Court’s decision shows that we have a copyright law that is behind the times and insufficient faced with the digital reality we all live in.”