New Copyright Law in Switzerland Empowers Scientific Research

The Swiss Parliament adopted a new copyright law on 27 September, 2019. Amongst its many new elements, there is a large exception to copyright for the use of protected works for scientific research purposes (Art. 24d1). This exception is compulsory and overrules any subsequent license agreements. It allows copying and reuse of copyrighted works for commercial or non-commercial scientific research, and refers to any work to which the researcher has lawful access.

The new exception in Swiss coypright law corresponds to the existing exception for reproductions and extractions made by research organisations and cultural heritage institutions to carry out, for the purposes of scientific research, text and data mining of works or other subject matter, as provided by article 3 of Directive 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market. The scope of this new exception is even wider insofar as it allows text and data mining also for commercial scientific research and is applicable also to private scholars who may not be associated with a public research institution.

This new legislation is very good news for Plazi. It provides for supplementary legitimation of extracting and making available data from biodiversity literature as enabled by the Plazi workflow. This workflow was already organised and ruled according to the Swiss copyright law. The new copyright exception further empowers this process and allows for new developments.

  1. Art. 24d Verwendung von Werken zum Zweck der wissenschaftlichen Forschung

    1. Zum Zweck der wissenschaftlichen Forschung ist es zulässig, ein Werk zu vervielfältigen, wenn die Vervielfältigung durch die Anwendung eines technischen Verfahrens bedingt ist und zu den zu vervielfältigenden Werken ein rechtmässiger Zugang besteht.
    2. Die im Rahmen dieses Artikels angefertigten Vervielfältigungen dürfen nach Abschluss der wissenschaftlichen Forschung zu Archivierungs- und Sicherungszwecken aufbewahrt werden.
    3. Dieser Artikel gilt nicht für die Vervielfältigung von Computerprogrammen.