Swiss court rules on Internet copyright theft

Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that the location of the Internet server is the key factor in deciding which regional court will try cases of Internet copyright infringements.

This content was published on September 2, 1999 - 11:55

Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that the location of the Internet server is the key factor in deciding which regional court will try cases of Internet copyright infringements.

In a ruling published on Thursday, the Federal Court in Lausanne said that if the data were fed into the Internet in a particular Swiss canton (state), then the court of that canton would be responsible for that case.

The Federal Court argued that the location of the Internet provider -- the company that sells customers an Internet access package -- was irrelevant.

The ruling is related to a 1998 court case dealing with the illegal Internet distribution of 100,000 song lyrics which were protected by copyright.

The court ruling only affects cases of disputed court jurisdiction.

In cases of international Internet-related crimes, the situation is much less clear, a spokesman for the department on international law at Berne University said on Thursday.

He said there was still some dispute as to who should try a case if, for instance, a racist or paedophile website is set up outside Switzerland, but its effects (i.e. page views) take place inside Switzerland.

The spokesman said that in order to avoid international legal conflicts, there appeared to be a trend in international law to try Internet cases by courts whose jurisdiction was encompassing the server location.

Internet copyright standards are still being negotiated within Europe as well as between the United States and Europe.

From staff and wire reports.

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