Commentary on:
Orelli: 'Swiss Copyright Act 1883 with comments and appendices' (1884)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1884


Orelli: "Swiss Copyright Act 1883 with comments and appendices"

Friedemann Kawohl

Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University, UK


Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Swiss Copyright Act 1883', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. References


1. Full title

Aloys von Orelli, The Swiss Federal Statute of 23. April 1883 regarding copyright in works of literature and art: with a discussion of the relevant international treaties (Zurich: Schultheß, 1884)


2. Abstract

Switzerland was among the last countries in Europe to issue a modern copyright act. In 1856 a number of cantons had agreed on a minimum protection term equivalent to the author's lifespan or 30 years after publication, whichever was the longer. No protection was granted against the unauthorised (re-)printing of public lectures and journal articles. After the Confederation entered into a treaty with France in 1864, it was paradoxically the case that Swiss citizens were protected in their home country to a lesser degree than the works of French authors in Switzerland.


The Copyright Act of 1883 conferred exclusive rights to authors for their lifespan plus 30 years p.m.a. The original author's right to control translations of his work was restricted to a 5 years' term within which the legitimate translation had to be published (Art. 3). The authors of musical and dramatic works were required to explicitly reserve their rights and the royalties were limited to 2% of box office takings (Art. 7). The restriction on translation rights was overtaken as early as 1886 when Switzerland signed the Berne Convention. But even after the Berlin revision of the Berne Convention in 1908 Switzerland did not adopt Berne standards before a new Copyright Act was issued in 1922.


3. References


Books and articles [in alphabetical order]


Wittweiler, B., "Die Auswirkungen der Berner Übereinkunft auf die schweizerische Urheberrechtsgesetzgebung", in M. Rehbinder and W. Larese (eds), Die Berner Übereinkunft und die Schweiz (Stämpfli: Berne, 1986)

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