In some cases, the use of protected works and performances is permitted by law under certain conditions. As long as you fulfil the specified conditions, you do not need to ask the rights owner for permission.
Private use is the most important consideration for users – we are all allowed to use published works and performances privately, meaning in the private sphere or within a group of people who we are closely connected with such as family and friends. In the legal sense, ‘friends’ refers only to one’s closest friends. These do not include work colleagues from your division or your 200 friends on Facebook.
Example: You are allowed to play Maurizio Pollini’s recording of Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude at home in the presence of your friends. If your friends enjoy the record, you are also allowed to make a copy and give it to them. Bypassing a copy barrier has no civil or criminal consequences.
If you wish, however, to use Pollini's recording as background music on your website, you need to obtain consent from Maurizio Pollini and the Deutsche Grammophon record label. As Chopin’s compositions are no longer protected by copyright, you can also play the piece yourself and use the recording.
There are other legally permitted uses for:
- decoding computer programs
- making archive and backup copies
- temporary copies
- the use of works by persons with disabilities
- the use of works for the purposes of scientific research
- reproduction of short excerpts in inventories by libraries, museums or archives
- catalogues for museums, trade fairs, and auctions
- depicting works on premises open to the public (known as freedom of panorama)
- reporting on current events
Please note that the copyright law also imposes specific requirements for the uses listed above.
Harmonisation and partial revision of guidelines as of 1 July 2023
Conference on Intellectual Property & Sustainability at the University of Geneva
Symposium: "Best practices in the fight against counterfeiting & piracy – NFTs not your cup of tea? Well, they should: NFTs as a new way of fighting counterfeiting and piracy"