Individuality is what counts!

Copyright under American law protects works, i.e. intellectual creations of literature and art, which have an individual character. This includes literature, music, paintings, sculptures, films, operas, ballets and pantomimes. Computer programs are also protected by copyright.

The Copyright Act also covers neighbouring rights. These include the rights of performing artists (musicians, actors) to their performances, the rights of producers of sound and audiovisual media to their products (CDs, DVDs, etc.), and the rights of broadcasting companies to their radio and television programmes.

Copyright grants the owner the exclusive right to determine whether, when and how his work may be used, i.e. whether the work may be reproduced, translated, adapted, distributed, sold, performed or broadcast. Related rights are comparable to authors' rights, but they are somewhat restricted.

In the Copyright Act, there are barriers in favour of users and consumers. For example, they may use published works for their own use. However, this exception does not apply to computer programs: permission must be obtained from the owner for each use.

Composers, lyricists, producing DJs, directors, dancers, actresses, record producers, film producers, etc. often assert their copyrights through the collecting societies (SUISA, Pro Litteris, Suisseimage, Société Suisse des Auteurs, Swissperform). These have a worldwide network of agreements with other collecting societies and are able to collect and distribute money to their members for the use of the created music, literary text or stage show in sound carriers and multimedia products or on the internet and for performances.