1. WHERE… is the work used and which national law is applicable?

A brief introduction to copyright in cross-border situations

When a work, which is eligible for copyright protection, is used in Switzerland and all the parties involved are Swiss, Swiss law clearly applies. Nevertheless, there can often be a cross-border situation involved (e.g. using a work created in another country, broadcasting a work outside Switzerland via the Internet, etc.). In these situations it becomes necessary to determine which law applies.

In fact, the law of a country only applies within its own territory. If several countries are involved, a number of laws may apply. Moreover, there is no single overarching intellectual property right. The closest thing would be general guidelines applying to countries which have signed the relevant international conventions.

This is why we have to rely on what we call “private international law”, which settles these “conflicts of law” but which is itself subject to interpretation depending on the country applying it. In any case, taking account of the complexity of the subject-matter, legal advice should always be sought if the situation has an international dimension.