The author has the right of first publication. This means that only authors may decide whether, when, how and under what author's designation their work should be published for the first time (Art. 9 para. 2 CopA).
A work is considered to be published when it has been made available for the first time by the author or, with his consent, by third parties, to a large number of people outside the author's private circle (Art. 9 para. 3 CopA). 'A private circle' refers to the personal sphere and the circle of people closely connected to each other, such as relatives or friends (Art. 19 para. 1 (a) CopA).
It can be difficult in an individual case to determine whether the work is still part of the private sphere or has already been made available to a larger number of people. The decisive factor then is whether authors make the work available to a circle of people whom they can no longer control (Barrelet/Egloff, Urheberrecht, 3rdedition, 2008, Art. 9 N. 23).
The work can be published in any way, also electronically on the Internet, via e-mail, fax or mobile phone. It is also not mandatory for the public to take notice of the work; it is enough for them to have the possibility to do so.
The first publication has far-reaching consequences for authors:
- Once the authors have published the work, the publication cannot be reversed (irrevocability of first publication).