Statutory Provisions

16. What rights to the work are retained by the author if he does not conclude an agreement on copyright with the publisher?

Such a case is governed by the provisions of the publishing contract law in the Swiss Code of Obligations: 

  • Art. 381 Para. 1 of the Code of Obligations: “The author's rights are only transferred to the publisher to the extent and for as long as is necessary for the performance of the contract.”
  • Art. 382, Code of Obligations:
    • "Para. 1: Unless the editions of the work to which the publisher is entitled are out of print, the publishee is permitted to dispose elsewhere neither of the work in entirety nor of individual parts thereof to the publisher’s disadvantage
    • Para. 2: Newspaper articles and individual smaller papers in journals can be republished by the publishee at any time.
    • Para. 3: Contributions to collective volumes or larger contributions to journals may not be republished by the publishee before expiry of three months after the complete publication of the contribution.”

These provisions apply unless agreements to the contrary are concluded, and mean:

  1. The author of an academic paper, such as an article in a journal, that deals with a topic in depth can publish it in a repository or other server three months after it has been published in full (Art. 382 Para. 3, Code of Obligations).
  2. Reports with a topical relevance, such as newspaper articles, can be publicly deposited by the author in a repository or other server at any time (Art. 382 Para. 2, Code of Obligations).
  3. The author cannot publicly deposit works such as monographs or textbooks in a repository in competition with the publisher unless the edition is out of print (Art. 382 Para. 1, Code of Obligations). Versions that cannot be cited correctly and that do not constitute genuine competition are permitted, such as files without the original page numbers in subjects where citations give the exact page number.

The author’s version (accepted manuscript) can certainly be used as full text. According to the expert opinion by Reto Hilty and Matthias Seemann, the version published by the publisher can also be used (publisher’s pdf), but without the publisher’s logo, which is protected by trademark law or similar. However, there is no established judicial practice on this question of the format.

17. What options does a researcher have, if he wants to publicly deposit a publication which was published without agreement in a case, where the publisher categorically refuses this?

Ein Forscher schickt einem Verlag seinen Beitrag an einem Sammelwerk zu mit der Bitte, diesen zu veröffentlichen, was der Verlag ausführt. Andere Absprachen gibt es nicht. Nach der erfolgten Veröffentlichung fragt der Forscher beim Verlag, ob er die Publikation in seinem Repositorium offen zugänglich hinterlegen darf. Der Verlag lehnt dies kategorisch ab. Muss sich der Forscher daran halten, oder kann er sich auf das Obligationenrecht (Art. 382 Abs. 3 OR) berufen, welches ihm die Hinterlegung nach drei Monaten Sperrfrist erlaubt?

Fragt der Forscher den Verlag, ob die Hinterlegung in einem Repositorium erlaubt sei, und wird dies vom Verlag verneint, so besteht zwischen den Parteien über diesen Punkt offenbar keine Einigkeit; es ist keine diesbezügliche Vereinbarung entstanden. Bestehen auch sonst keine Abreden darüber, kommen die gesetzlichen Bestimmungen und somit auch Art. 382 Abs. 3 OR zur Anwendung. Daher darf im obigen Fall der Forscher seine Publikation drei Monate nach der Veröffentlichung in einem Repositorium zugänglich machen.