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Changes in revised copyright law

To ensure adequate copyright protection in the digital age, the Swiss Copyright Act was revised; the revised law has been in force since 1 July 2008.

The most important changes for rightholders and for the users of the works and services protected by copyright are:

  • Like authors, performing artists, producers and broadcasting companies are now also entitled to decide whether and in what form their works and services are made available online.
  • Technical measures to prevent the unauthorised use of works (copy controls, access restrictions) cannot be circumvented – except for private copying for own use.
  • It is now easier to acquire rights to orphan works and works in the archives of broadcasting companies.
  • Libraries and archives are allowed to make copies of works for conservation purposes.
  • Access to works and services by persons with sensory impairments has been facilitated.

Can I still make copies for my own private use (copy CDs etc.)
Yes. A CD can be copied on to blank media for one’s personal use (Article 19(1)(a) Federal Copyright Act). This includes use by family members and close friends. In consideration, the Copyright Act provides for a levy on blank media carriers.

Can I circumvent copy controls?
In principle, technical measures (access and copy controls, encryption, distortion and other conversion mechanisms) for the protection of works and other objects covered by copyright may not be circumvented. However, the Copyright Act provides for an exception: copy controls may be circumvented or cracked in the case of copies made for private use.

Is downloading now illegal?
Downloading works from electronic pay services is legal and is even exempt from the obligation to pay a fee for private copying.
To date there has been no judicial decision concerning the lawfulness of downloading from illegal sources. This is a highly controversial issue. In its debates, Parliament has so far refrained from explicitly prohibiting downloading from illegal sources.

What has changed for performing artists?
Apart from authors, performing artists among others are henceforth also entitled to decide whether and in what form their works and services may be disseminated on the internet.

Are persons with disabilities entitled to copy everything?
The exception does not go quite that far: works protected by copyright may be copied in a form accessible to persons with disabilities who cannot otherwise perceive them or who can only perceive them with great difficulty.  The author is still entitled to remuneration unless only single copies are made. In practice, this applies primarily to books in Braille and audiobooks for the visually impaired.

For further information:

Amendments of the Federal Copyright Act (in German)

Legal information from the Federal Intellectual Property Institute (in German)




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