Example scenario:

I live in Switzerland and develop a software. I publish the source code (and maybe a binary executable file) on a server located in the USA. Let's also assume a user from another country downloads and uses this software.

I wonder, which countries laws regarding different aspects (like license, copyright and liability) apply (especially for me as developer).

Additional context:

Switzerland does according to Art. 8, PrHG (Which sadly isn't available in English) not permit to "transfer" liability to the end-user (as far as I understand), as many open source licenses do. So could I become liable, if the software was provided from a server located in another country than Switzerland, which permits such "transfer" of liability?

Potentially related:

User data storage location - This question seems similar to me, which lets me assume that in the above example, the law of all three countries could theoretically apply to me (even if the laws are conflicting each other).

  • 2
    Yes, that's the answer: they could all apply. Every country makes its own laws, decides where and when in the world those laws apply (even outside its own borders, if they so decide), and enforces those laws as best they can. Apr 24, 2021 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


A plaintiff chooses where to sue, provided that the chosen court has jurisdiction. The laws of the court's jurisdiction will generally apply, although in some cases it will also look at the laws of another relvant jurisdiction. Therefore, the laws of the developer's location, the hosting location, or of any user's location might apply.

Often a user agreement of a license will specify that disputes are to be determined under the laws of a particular jurisdiction. Such agreements are often given effect, but some courts disregard them in some circumstances. Crafting an agreement to limit exposure to other laws as much as possible is the kind of thing for which good legal advice is generally needed.

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