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The Basics

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

As soon as a piece of work (like an article, a book, a thesis) is created, it is protected by copyright, which belongs to the author(s), as long as it has not been transferred by contract to someone else.

The copyright consists of:
- economic rights: allow right owners to derive 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. Afterwards, the work is in the public domain.
- moral rights: allow authors to take certain actions to preserve and protect their link with their work: they can claim authorship (right of attribution) or object to any distortion or modification of the work which would be prejudicial to their honour or reputation (right of integrity). Contrary to economic rights, they can not be transferred to someone else and last forever in many national laws.

The main international treaty dealing with copyright is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, adopted in 1886, 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 authorisation of the author. The exceptions relevant to the academic world are:

  • for private use, or use within a circle of persons closely connected, 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 educational purposes: a teacher can share documents with his/her students (it is not free: like all Swiss teaching institutions, the Geneva Graduate Institute pays a fee for this) (art. 19 1b) The educational purpose exception applies to the professor, not to the student, who is not allowed to reuse freely material used during a course.