Swiss Parliament Adopts New Copyright Legislation While Keeping Privacy of Internet Users Intact
Sep 30, 2019

Swiss Parliament Adopts New Copyright Legislation While Keeping Privacy of Internet Users Intact

For years, governments throughout the world have been exploring solutions meant to crack down on online copyright infringements and piracy. On the contrary, Switzerland has long been considered a pirate's paradise due to quite lenient laws on copyrighted materials and tolerant anti-piracy legislation when compared to other countries.

Because of this, US authorities went ahead and placed Switzerland on a blacklist, containing countries with insufficient anti-piracy and copyright laws. The main cause of this is directly linked to Switzerland’s data and privacy protection laws. As such, according to the Swiss Supreme Court, the privacy of an Internet consumer is more important when compared to the copyrights of an author. Therefore, while leveraging copyrighted data is indeed illegal, the prosecution of copyright violators, alongside P2P downloaders and up-loaders is almost impossible. 

In the past, efforts have been made to fight copyright infringement in Switzerland, yet most of these efforts were inefficient due to the lack of legislative backing. However, according to recent reports, Switzerland will now update its legal approach to piracy and copyrighted materials, following the Federal Assembly vote. 

Hosting providers to be penalized for pirated content

Following the legislative amendments Swiss hosting providers with copyright infringing content on their servers are going to face legal consequences. As such, the newly-amended law will allow authorities to track, and punish hosting providers operating within Switzerland, if they refuse to remove pirated content from their servers. The same law is also bound to improve copyright protection for creative artists who share their work online, including but not limited to music producers, film makers, photographers and graphic designers. 

The law does not affect individual web users

This reform will not affect individuals who choose to download pirated content, as tracking and punishing downloads is both an invasion of personal data, and no easy feat despite privacy concerns. Thus, for private individuals downloading pirated content through peer-to-peer networks or from any website still remains legal.

According to the Swiss government, the new law stands as a compromise, granted that artists wish to protect their work (and understandably, receive revenue), whereas internet users are keen on their right to download whatever they wish from the World Wide Web. Of course, no law is without its critics, hence why supporters of strict anti-piracy and anti-copyright laws, believe that the new law isn’t efficient since it doesn’t extend its legal consequences to individuals who violate intellectual property laws by downloading, and/or using content they haven’t paid for. 

Copyright legislation is now clear

The newly-amended law is also bound to make it easier for intellectual property creators to access streaming and distribution services, and be paid for their content. Using work that may be copyrighted is still possible in several cases, as specified by the law. A relevant example is the case of work where copyright records cannot be found. 

Another amendment is the copyright protection time frame added for music intellectual property, which will now have copyright licenses available for 70 years. It's also important to mention that the newly adopted law does not oblige websites' owners to constantly monitor whether user-uploaded content on their platforms infringes anyone's the copyright of another author.

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, the stance of the Swiss Parliament on piracy and against copyrighted content stands as a ratification of two international treaties concerning intellectual property that Switzerland is a party to. Yet, Switzerland has refused to adopt the privacy violating proposals and the general consensus among the members of Swiss Parliament is that if intellectual property content is available on the internet, people should be able to download it freely and without any legal consequences.

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