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The Basics

The Geneva Graduate Institute is located in Switzerland, so Swiss law applies.

As soon as a work (such as an article, a book, or a thesis) is created, it is protected by copyright, which belongs to the author(s), unless it has been transferred to someone else by contract.

Copyright consists of:
- economic rights: allow rightsholders to obtain a financial reward from the use of their works by others. The duration of these rights is generally 70 years after the death of the author or the last surviving author. The work then enters the public domain.
- moral rights: allow authors to take certain actions to preserve and protect their association with their work: they can claim authorship (right of attribution) or object to any distortion or modification of the work that would be detrimental to their honour or reputation (right of integrity). Unlike economic rights, these rights are perpetual and cannot be transferred to anyone else.

The main international treaty dealing with copyright is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, adopted in 1886 and revised in 1979. The main Swiss law is the Federal Act on Copyright and Related Rights of 1992, revised in 2019.

Exceptions to Copyright

In some cases, it is possible to use a work without the author's permission. The exceptions relevant to the academic world are:

  • for private use, or use within a circle of closely related persons, such as relatives or friends (art. 19 1a).
  • quotations: provided that the source of the quotation and the name of the author are mentioned and that the extent of the quotation is compatible with fair practice (art. 25).
  • for teaching purposes: teachers may share documents with their students (this is not free of charge: like all Swiss educational institutions, the Geneva Graduate Institute pays a fee for this service) (art. 19 1b) The exception for teaching purpose applies to the professor, not to the student, who is not allowed to re-use freely material used during a course.