Printed Materials

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Production of Printed Materials and Press Freedom in Sweden

In the Swedish Constitution: The Freedom of the Press Act (SFS nr: 1949:105)

In addition to the Instrument of Government, Sweden has three fundamental laws (Sveriges Grundlagar): the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act, which covers the production of Printed Materials, and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. The Riksdag Act occupies an intermediate position between a fundamental law and ordinary law.

Freedom of the Press Act

The most recent Freedom of the Press Act was adopted in 1949 although Sweden established freedom of the press by law as early as 1766 and was first in the world to do so, at least according to its government. Freedom of the press means the right to disseminate information in printed form but with accountability before the law. Another feature of the Freedom of the Press Act is the citizens right to study public documents, and the principle of public access to official documents.

On joining the Eropean Union, Sweden was therefore obliged to make a few minor adjustments to the fundamental laws. For example, the Freedom of the Press Act was amended to enable the prohibition of advertisements for breast milk substitutes.

Chapter 4 of the Freedom of the Press Act has the heading “On the Production of Printed Materials”. Here are the content of Chapter 4:

  • Article 1 provides the following: It shall be the right of every Swedish citizen and Swedish legal person to produce printed matter by means of a printing press, either alone or with the assistance of others. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 2 provides the following: Any written matter produced in the Realm using a printing press or duplicated here by stencil, photocopying, or other like technical process, in respect of which a valid certificate of no legal impediment to publication exists, shall indicate clearly the identity of the person who printed or otherwise duplicated the matter, together with the year and place of duplication, if the matter is intended for publication in the Realm and is not classifiable as job printing or pictorial reproduction. Provisions are set out in Chapter 1, Article 5, paragraph one, concerning the publication of information under paragraph one in written matter duplicated by stencil, photocopying, or other like technical process, in respect of which no valid certificate exists.
  • Article 3 provides the following: For the purposes of this Act, job printing or pictorial reproduction shall be understood to mean postcards and picture albums, visiting cards and notices, address cards, labels, forms, advertising matter, printed packaging, other commercial printed matter, and any other such printed matter, provided always that an abuse of the freedom of the press on account of the text or otherwise can be presumed to be ruled out.
  • Article 4 provides the following: Provisions concerning an obligation to retain copies of printed matter for scrutiny and furnish copies of printed matter to libraries or archives are laid down in law.
  • Article 5 provides the following: A person producing written matter and thereby contravening the provisions of Article 2, paragraph one, shall be sentenced to pay a fine or to imprisonment for up to one year. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)

Other Chapters of the Act are:

      • Chapter 1: On the freedom of the press
      • Chapter 2: On the public nature of official documents
      • Chapter 3: On the right to anonymity
    • Chapter 5: On the publication of periodicals
    • Chapter 6: On the dissemination of printed matter
    • Chapter 7: On offences against the freedom of the press
    • Chapter 8: Liability rules
    • Chapter 9: On supervision and prosecution
    • Chapter 10: On special coercive measures
    • Chapter 11: On private claims for damages
    • Chapter 12: On court proceedings in freedom of the press cases
    • Chapter 13: On matter printed abroad etc.
    • Chapter 14: General provisions

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