Collections (legally known as collective works) can be protected by copyright when they are intellectual creations with individual character with regard to their selection and arrangement Art. 4 para. 1 CopA. In other words, there is no copyright protection for what is "collected" in the collected work but only for the way in which it is collected, selected and arranged. When these arrangements and/or selection criteria are unique or original, then the required individual character exists. However, this is usually lacking in standard arrangements (e.g. sorting alphabetically or numerically). It is also lacking in works in which the selection criteria or the arrangements are in any way standard or prescribed, or it comes down to the completeness of a work. Therefore, to cite an example, a legally required complete compilation of information on medications is not a protected work because it is not at all possible to individually select the content. (cf. the Civil Court Steering Committee of the Canton of Basel-Stadt dated 20 January 2004, in sic! 2004, 490 et seq.) Copyright also does not protect official or legally required collections (Art. 5 para. 2 CopA). On the other hand, newspapers and magazines are in turn protected because the selection and the arrangement of the individual articles are individual decisions of the editor.
Other examples of possible protected collected works are: anthologies, handbooks, illustrated books, etc.
As it does not come down to the content but rather to the individuality and originality of the compilation, it is not mandatory that the collected content itself is protected by copyright (e.g. recipes are normally not protected; however, a cookery book can be protected). If another person than the author uses the content (e.g. puts a recipe from the afore-mentioned cookery book online), there is no infringement of copyright, because the individual character of the collection (the selection and arrangement) is not affected in this case, only the content. The protection of a collected work is thus not focused on the content of the collection but rather on how it is selected and arranged.