5.8 Use of works by people with disabilities

A work may be reproduced in a form which is accessible to people with disabilities insofar as the work cannot be perceived by the senses, or can only be perceived by the senses with difficulty, in its already published form.

It must be noted that only a work that has been already published for the first time (Art. 9 para. 3 CopA) with the consent and in the manner desired by the author is considered within the scope of the exception of art. 24. (c) CopA.

The notion of a person with disabilities is indicated in art. 2 para. 1 LDis (federal act on the Elimination of Discrimination against People with Disabilities): “disabled” means a person suffering from a predictably persistent physical, mental or mental deficiency which makes it difficult or prevents her from carrying out the activities of daily life, engaging in social contacts, moving around, following a training or continuing education or to pursue a lucrative activity “.

The work, object of this exception to copyright, must be perceptible to the human senses, but the fruition in the form it is originally published is impossible or difficult for the disabled.

In this hypothesis the art. 24c CopA allows to modify the form of the work, reproducing it in a way that can be usable also for disabled people. In addition to the right to reproduce the work, also the distribution is allowed, provided it is not made for profit purposes.

For the sake of this exception, adaptations are allowed such as for example: introducing subtitles, adding particular languages (e.g. Braille alphabet), printing a text with enlarged characters, creating an audio form of a script, etc. Apart from that, the author’s moral rights to the work must remain intact, including the obligation to quote the original work.

Such copies of the work may only be produced and placed on the market for non-commercial purposes, and only for the use of people with disabilities.

Only people with disabilities are allowed to access these adapted works. Thus, the distribution must be controlled and the circle of persons limited to this extent.

The provision of such works to a wider public is not allowed by this exception.

Moreover, the distribution of these works should not generate any profit, but only cover expenses.  If the intention is to trade with such modified works, the author’s consent should be obtained.


On April 1, 2020, the new Swiss Copyright Act (CopA) will enter into force and bring a number of changes. We will do our best to update this page as soon as possible. 


5.8-1 Is it possible to add subtitles to a video of a song and upload it on youtube in order to facilitate the perception of this work to deaf people?

No, it is not possible to do so. Art. 24c CopA allows to to make a modified copy of a protected work of art, in a form which is accessible to people with disabilities. Such copies of the work may only be produced and placed on the market for non-commercial purposes, and only for the use of people with disabilities. In this case the copy is made accessible to everyone on youtube. Sothis reproduction is not allowed.

5.8-2 An association involved in helping blind people, is making a translation in braille of the most recent novels on the market to sell it to other associations supporting the blinds. Is the association allowed to do so?

Yes, it is possible but only if the translated books are sold to other associations or institutions supporting blind people or directly to the disabled person. Of course, a book translated in braille is deemed useful only to people with disabilities. Therefore, it can be said that this commerce is admitted under art. 24c CopA. It is important that this commerce does not generate any profit but only covers the expenses.

5.8-3 Am I allowed to commercialize translations of books in braille without the consent of the copyright holder of the original book?

The translation in braille is a derivative work and in principle needs the consent of the author. Nevertheless, by virtue of the exception of art. 24c CopA, it is possible to create and also distribute derivative works in order to help disabled people to perceive the work. It is possible to do so, at the condition that no profit is generated  from this business. All the revenues shall only cover the expenses. If I want to get a profit I must have the consent of the copyright holder (author or/and editor).