RDM & Copyright in Switzerland


In Switzerland the regulation of copyright is a federal matter. No other laws on copyright at the cantonal level do exist.

The Federal Act on Copyright and Related Rights (Copyright Act, CopA; SR 231.1) underwent a partial revision in 2020 and the revised CopA has been in force since 01.04.2020. The revision brought major changes especially to the copyright protection of photographs and to text and data mining (science barrier). If you have already started with your research project, please make sure that your research is in accordance with these changes. 

The Swiss Federal Copyright Act is structured similarly to other Copyright Acts of European countries and protects the authors of literary and artistic works. It regulates the exploitation rights of works (reproduction, distribution, publishing, performing, editing). Works in the copyright sense must be an intellectual creation as well as have an individual character and a perceptible form, e.g. texts, photographs and films, artistic works (music, fine arts, applied arts, works with scientific or technical content and works of architecture. Furthermore, second hand works (using existing works) and collective works (including databases) are independently protected if they are an intellectual creation and have an individual character.

New regulation of photographs

In particular, the provisions on photographs have been revised so that photos without individual character ("snapshots") are also protected. In order to be able to legally reuse images whose rights holder is unknown or untraceable the new law provides for an easy solution: Paying an "insurance" fee to the collecting societies. If the right holder can eventually be identified after all, you do not have to pay any further remuneration. Of course, the data protection law must be considered if persons are depicted in the photographs.

Science barrier, text and data mining

Relevant for research activities is the abolition of the consent requirement and the remuneration claims in the new CopA. With the so-called science barrier, text and data from available sources can be reproduced and stored for scientific purposes in order to be able to analyze them in a larger context. The prerequisite is that a lawful access exists, e.g. through a license from the library. The scientific barrier does not apply to teaching and other scientific activities.

Basically, this revision is an attempt to strengthen Switzerland as a research location and to meet the new requirements of digitization. Two key drivers are firstly big data, i.e. the exponential growth in the volume of digital data, and secondly the development of methods for analyzing trends and correlations with the aid of artificial intelligence. In contrast to the EU Directive, the Swiss CopA does not include a reservation of use and thus strengthens a privilege for research.

FDM & Urheberrecht in der Schweiz

Das Urheberrecht ist in der Schweiz eine Bundeskompetenz. Es gibt auf kantonaler Ebene keine weiteren Bestimmungen über das Urheberrecht.
Das URG erfuhr im Jahr 2020 eine Teilrevision und seit 01.04.2020 ist das revidierte URG in Kraft. Die Revision brachte vor allem zum urheberrechtlichen Schutz von Fotografien und zum Text und Data Mining (Wissenschaftsschranke) grössere Änderungen, die insgesamt die Wissenschaft und die Schweiz als Forschungsstandort stärken sollen.