Switzerland's National Council has passed amendments aimed at modernizing the country's copyright law to make it more fit for the digital age. While services that host pirate sites or distribute content can expect a tougher ride moving forward, users will still be able to download pirate content for personal use. Furthermore, Swiss Internet service providers will not be required to prevent their customers accessing pirate sites.
Sitting in the heart of Europe geographically but outside the European Union politically, Switzerland is largely free to make its own legislation. On the copyright front, this has brought the country out of line with standards adopted by its neighbors, something that has drawn criticism from entertainment industry companies, particularly those in the United States. In 2017, proposals to amend the country’s copyright laws were drafted but they failed to fully address key complaints from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) made on behalf of rightsholders. A major complaint is that the country’s private copying exception shouldn’t apply to content obtained from illegal sources, i.e pirate copies of movies circulating on peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent. The USTR also had issues with the current liability framework for sites and hosting services that facilitate and profit from piracy. After a long trip through the corridors of power, Switzerland’s National Council adopted amendments to copyright law Monday but at first view, there seems little to please the United States.