Support for SUISA members during the corona crisis

Following the federal COVID-19 ordinances, music usage plummeted depriving authors and publishers of a significant portion of their royalty revenues. SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Support for SUISA members during the corona crisis

No concerts means no revenues from performing rights. Instead, Kety Fusco played live music from her home for the SUISAblog “Music for Tomorrow” series and for SUISA Music Stories on social media. (Photo: screen shot video Kety Fusco)

Cancelled concerts, closed shops and cinema theatres, reduced advertising on radio and TV – the consequences of the federal measures against the spread of the coronavirus have a direct impact on rights management revenues: if there is no music usage, there is no royalty income.

SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings:

Advances

First and foremost, SUISA has the option, as it has always had, to grant advances to its members. Both authors and publishers can qualify for an advance. The amount of the advance is based on the member’s average revenues in the preceding years. Advances can only be granted to members who have earned more than CHF 500 on average in royalties in recent years. Members may apply for an advance by email. Applications are processed within seven days. The decision is communicated in writing by email. If the applicant satisfies the qualification criteria, the advance will be paid immediately by bank transfer.

Under normal circumstances, advances are offset against the member’s next settlement. This means that the amount advanced is deducted from the distributable amount. As an immediate measure in the exceptional context of the corona pandemic, SUISA’s Board has decided that advances would not be offset before June 2021 at the earliest. The Board and the Executive Committee are keeping a close eye on the crisis situation and, depending on economic developments, may decide to further postpone the offsetting of such advances. In any event, repayment of these advances will not be due before June 2021 at the earliest.

Support payments for members

If an advance is insufficient to alleviate the existential financial hardship suffered by a member as a result of the loss in royalty revenues, the member may apply to SUISA for support payments. SUISA’s Pension Fund makes funds available to authors in the event of an emergency. As a further immediate measure, the Executive Committee has decided to create an additional emergency relief fund from which support payments can be made to authors and publishers alike. The emergency relief fund still has to be ratified by the General Meeting by postal voting.

In the framework of its rights administration responsibilities, SUISA provides support to members who suffer a loss in their royalty revenues. However, only limited funds are available for support payments. SUISA members who are not already receiving hardship relief from the emergency fund of Suisseculture Sociale or under other cantonal measures may apply for support payments from SUISA.

Applicants must prove their financial hardship. Applications for support payments can be submitted via the members’ portal “My account”. Application documentation will be processed within seven days. Decisions are communicated in writing by email. Payment is made by bank transfer as soon as an application is approved. Support payments do not have to be repaid.

Federal support measures and other aid

The financial support provided by SUISA is designed to help bridge a shortfall in royalty income. SUISA’s support is supplemental – not in lieu of or as an alternative to federal support measures. Information about the measures introduced by the Swiss government to alleviate the economic consequences of the corona pandemic on the cultural sector is available (in German, French and Italian) on the website of the Federal Office of Culture (FOC): www.bak.admin.ch/bak/de/home/themen/coronavirus.html

The Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia also publishes continuously updated information at: www.prohelvetia.ch/en/dossier/info-hub-covid-19/

Go to: www.suisseculture.ch for information about the emergency relief fund for cultural workers, and a link to the application portal. Applications for immediate aid can be submitted through this portal.

Helpful information for musicians is also available on the website of Sonart, the professional association of freelance musicians in Switzerland.

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Following the federal COVID-19 ordinances, music usage plummeted depriving authors and publishers of a significant portion of their royalty revenues. SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Support for SUISA members during the corona crisis

No concerts means no revenues from performing rights. Instead, Kety Fusco played live music from her home for the SUISAblog “Music for Tomorrow” series and for SUISA Music Stories on social media. (Photo: screen shot video Kety Fusco)

Cancelled concerts, closed shops and cinema theatres, reduced advertising on radio and TV – the consequences of the federal measures against the spread of the coronavirus have a direct impact on rights management revenues: if there is no music usage, there is no royalty income.

SUISA offers its members financial support to bridge the loss in earnings:

Advances

First and foremost,...read more

The revised copyright law has come into force

The coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article 39d CopA); moreover, rightholders may process personal data insofar as this is essential for the purpose of criminal prosecution (Article 77i CopA).

Certain measures are designed to improve collective rights management:
Users must provide the collective rights management organisations with the necessary information in an electronic form allowing for automatic data processing (Article 51(1) CopA); collective rights management organisations are entitled to exchange the information provided by users with one another (Article 51(1bis) CopA); accelerated procedure for tariff appeals before the Federal Administrative Court (Article 74(2) CopA); and the Federal Arbitration Commission responsible for approving tariffs is now entitled to hear witnesses (see new Article 14(1)(h) of the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).

Lastly, the notion of an “extended collective licence” has been introduced into Swiss law (Article 43a CopA):
Collecting societies can now grant a blanket authorisation for certain uses, even for rightholders they do not represent contractually; this enhances the legal certainty for users and secures additional remuneration for rightholders. This option applies to uses which cannot be individually controlled by rightholders; collecting societies would act as an “insurance” (of a sort) for users. This is a welcome innovation (already applied in Scandinavian countries) which underscores the role of “facilitator” often played by collective rights management organisations.

SUISA accompanied the entire legislative process. Not all these innovations are spectacular. But we believe that, globally, they will facilitate the performance of our mission in the service of rightholders.

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  1. Eva David says:

    Merci aux mandataires de Suisa dont le travail patient et tenace a permis d’aboutir à cette solution satisfaisante.

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The coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article...read more

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’ rights, that is about 12 to 15 percent of about 70% of the service provider’s total turnover. The rest is allocated to the recording, the producer, the artist. This roughly corresponds to the offline situation in Switzerland. Copyright for authors is governed by state-approved tariffs there. They are actually slightly lower. A monopoly thus does not bring about a better result for authors.

Why is there so little that comes together for the author? Without the author, the piece would not even exist for others to perform.
I completely agree with you. If a composer happens to be a good singer as well and thus performs his own songs, he gets more. But this is the same case for the offline sector. A singing author gets more from his record company than from us – because the producer provides the service provider with the music recording which can be played. It is not SUISA that does that but companies such as Sony, Universal etc. which therefore also hold the relevant market power.
Furthermore: Let’s compare the situation to the radio broadcasters: Radio addresses a multitude of listeners, streams one individual listener. If you break down the radio remuneration to listener levels, the amount is not much higher than that for streaming. A reason why streaming is even lower is that I nearly only have mainstream music on the radio. The selection of songs is therefore limited. In the case of streaming services, I also have niche repertoire. In other words (please don’t quote me on the figures), I have a “heavy rotation” on the radio with about 50 songs per month, and 1,000 songs on Spotify.

Can I assume that a service such as YouTube pays out to a similar extent as Spotify?
In the case of YouTube, one question needs to be asked which is difficult to answer: What do the 12 to 15 percent relate to? Spotify has subscription fees while YouTube only has advertising income: Is it thus 12 to 15% of the advertising revenue which has been generated in a specific country for a specific video during a specific period of time? And if there is no advertising shown on the video, is there no money, irrespective of how many thousands of clicks are shown in total?

With YouTube, you have the additional problem that everyone can upload everything without having to supply any rights information. How can you find out what belongs to whom?
YouTube’s approach is automation. This works to some extent, but there are also blatant mistakes with regards to the allocations. For such data volumes, however, it is only possible to do so by way of automation. For a total control, you would have to be able to track all sound files.

Does this mean, the future must be the upload filter?
There’s a huge debate on this topic at EU level. So far, the “safe harbor” principle has been applied in the EU, which said: A Digital Service Provider (DSP) is not responsible for the contents which are uploaded to their platforms. The regulation stems from 2002 and was intended to promote the development of the online data exchange. YouTube did not exist in those days. YouTube could then benefit from this regulation even though masses of protected contents are distributed via YouTube. In the meantime, the protection of the author has been enjoying greater importance again. YouTube, however, threatens now to block contents arguing it would be too complicated to provide for a settlement of the rights in each case. That way, certain contents would no longer be available and this would be a grave restriction of freedom of opinion.

Are there any alternatives?
You could introduce a statutory compensation claim for authors, similar to blank media levies for private copies. This would mean: YouTube is allowed to distribute contents but YouTube would have to pay for it by law. In the case of the blank media levy, the argumentation used to be: You cannot control what someone records onto a music cassette, so a blanket solution is required and it could be that you pay a remuneration of e.g. 5 Rappen for each blank medium per hour in favour of the authors. Something like this would also be possible for online usages but it is a topic that is highly controversial.

Which solution would be better for the authors?
For authors of our scale, a blanket arrangement would be better, for bigger rights holders, the right of interdiction currently in force would be better. It gives them enough power to negotiate with YouTube or Google directly. Google cannot just ignore them. We, however, had to first become active ourselves in order to speak with YouTube about a licence. That was also a reason for our Joint Venture and our approach to expand the repertoire we represent.

How long does it take to negotiate an agreement with a platform of such a magnitude?
Since we have been part of the Joint License and have been processing via Mint, we could shorten the duration. Depending on the provider, it lasts between one and eight months. And if you want to renew an agreement, you are looking at four to five months.

What kind of strategy does SUISA pursue in cases where agreement negotiations with a provider fail?
In such a case – it is rather rare, because, among reasonable business partners, you do find a solution – we must fight in court to get the recognition and the adequate remuneration for the use of the rights of our members.

How many DSPs are there in total?
Actually, there are too many (laughs). There are dozens. Of course, you start with the most important ones, i.e. the biggest. There are about 15. But Mint is planning to expand into other territories. In India, for example, the two big telecoms companies are also important music providers which results in new and different constellations.

I am a cooperative member of SUISA, may I see such agreements?
No. A provider wants to prevent competitors seeing their contracts. That is why there is always a confidentiality clause. SUISA cooperative members do, however, see what they get in the end. If they do not like this situation, they can always assign their rights to someone else. I doubt very much that they will be given access to such contracts there. That is a result of the competitive market.

In December 2019, it became known that Gema has bought a majority stake in Zebralution GmbH, a digital distributor. What does this development mean for SUISA?
Gema tries this way to be increasingly active in the business with data for the works of its members. By cooperating with a digital distributor, Gema can succeed in providing its members with 360-degree-service, which does not just include the management of copyright but also neighbouring rights. SUISA is also going to consider what kind of steps are sensible for a rather comprehensive service to its members in the digital music distribution sector.

Züri West has earned money with “I schänke dir mis Härz”, whereas “079” by Lo & Leduc has yielded much less, even though it is at least as successful.
That may well be the case. This difference does not just apply to Lo & Leduc but for all, worldwide, because music consumption is different to what it was 15 years ago. That is why concerts have become more important and that is why the entire broadcasting sector is so important because we still have relatively stable conditions there …

But?
The problem is that more and more advertising is moving towards the internet. Licensing fees for broadcasting rights depend on the turnover of the broadcaster, and that turnover mainly comes from advertising. The income is falling drastically because advertising is shifting more and more towards the internet.

A similar scenario as we had it in the newspaper sector.
Exactly. This is hard to manage. The next online agreements will need to focus more on that. It is actually very fascinating. And of course we do not always succeed immediately, sometimes it takes tough negotiations and, if necessary, even legal proceedings. We also had this situation in the 70ies and 80ies when the task at hand was to collect remuneration for cable retransmission. New developments and types of services for music keep popping up. We need to keep an eye on them and it is our exciting and rewarding task to negotiate remunerations on behalf of our members.

To the first part of the interview: “Brave new world”

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  1. Rolf Hug says:

    Very interesting. Also to mention that the big publishing companies don’t play by the code of conduct and
    can get away with anything.

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Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

Music is now consumed rather differently to how it was consumed 15 years ago: From the turnover of the Digital Service Providers, about 12 to 15 percent are allocated to authors, which results in royalties at a micro-penny -level per play. (Photo: LikeBerry)

Andreas Wegelin, let’s talk about proportions and size ratios. Streaming service providers such as Spotify, for example, pay composers micro-penny -amounts per play. If you extrapolate this, what is the percentage of the turnover?
Andreas Wegelin: If you only consider authors’...read more

Brave new world

There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf of our members as possible, not just online but for all usage categories. If there is a cause for criticism, we take it seriously and examine it. There is, however, also the aspect that some members have received more than before, and they are not disappointed.

Maybe the question needs rephrasing?
Well, maybe the level of expectation is too high. Today, music is consumed in much smaller units, there are possibly one or two songs from a CD and that is reflected in the turnover, of course.

But members should receive a settlement four times per year. That did not quite work out in 2019. Why?
That’s right. One of the reasons for this is that the payment of one major customer was late. The amounts in the June distribution would thus have been far too small: On the one hand, the settlement would have fallen under the so-called payout threshold, they would therefore have received nothing. On the other hand, the administration costs would have been too high. We subsequently decided to postpone the settlement. Our goal, however, remains to pay out on a quarterly basis.

So, you don’t have a problem with the data volume you received that you need for the calculation of the online royalties?
No, we don’t. Yes, the data volume we receive is rather huge and requires complex processing with respect to many countries and currencies, but our systems have proved to be extremely efficient in this regard.

I can now upload my work on platforms such as iMusician, from where it is distributed to various service providers (Spotify etc.) and I can see how much my work is used, and where. Can SUISA also do that?
These are two different business models. iMusician monitors where an individual recording is played. That is, of course, much easier to track than having to simultaneously trace dozens, if not hundreds of recordings of one single work. What’s more, music providers know exactly who the artists of a recording are, but don’t have information on the composers of the song.

So SUISA’s job is more complex?
Of course. Add to that the obligation to provide clear information on the rights whenever you upload a song to such a distribution service. At our end, however, we also get notifications of works which have been uploaded by a fan without any details at all. If I do compare our administration costs with the fees that a service such as iMusician charges, I think to myself: we can keep up very well. But – such distribution services show us how we could improve our service in future and what is in demand on the market.

Which is?
The key word is tracking. I give you an example: If commercials with music of Swiss authors are broadcast abroad, the best way for me to get information on the number of broadcasts is via a tracking system. Today, not least on the grounds of cost, we have a system where the broadcasters deliver the information to us. Which could be something like “Nivea spot”. Well, which one? If I already have the melody as a sound file, I can track that. That is our future, even if it is not the most pressing measure we need to take for the online sector.

Automation is therefore only as good as the data that are available to it?
Exactly. And they are often incomplete.

What about monitoring service providers such as Utopia Music which can track songs across the internet?
Monitoring is a huge topic. We follow this very closely and are also planning a pilot project. Yet again, this is a matter of the relevant cost-benefit ratio. That ratio may well be good for an international hit producer but when it comes to an overall repertoire such as ours, the expense can push the administration costs up to silly levels.

The ‘rucksack of completeness’ has been around for the offline sector for many years and the distribution works rather well in that area. In the online sector, however, where everything could be measured, things are complicated.
That is annoying, yes. The offline system has been functioning well for nearly 100 years. But we only cover Switzerland and Liechtenstein for that. Online, we need to take a global approach and are also facing competition, because, according to the EU, each rights holder can choose who they are represented by.

What are the consequences?
In the past, rights holders assigned their rights to SUISA via so-called reciprocal representation agreements for the perception of their work in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Based on that system it was possible to pass on the relevant share from Switzerland to any composer, whether English or American, and one subsequently received the relevant shares from abroad for Swiss authors.

Online, on the other hand….
…. it is only possible for a society to collect for the rights holder whom it represents directly, even though this can be done at a global level. All of a sudden, the documentation must be more accurate and also completed for other countries since it otherwise won’t match. One collective management organisation might declare that their share of a work amounts to 80 percent, another organisation claims to hold 40 percent, which adds up to 120. Such cases happen all the time.

And what’s the consequence of this?
The provider says: As long as you do not know who sends an invoice for what, I won’t pay you. Or we do not get any money, but the info: I have already paid someone else!

How do disputes among rights representatives arise?
Let’s take an example: I have a work with a composer, a lyricist and a publisher. The latter, however, has an agreement with a sub-publisher and has, for another territory, instructed a third publisher, and now all of these entitled parties can choose their own collective management organisation for the online exploitation. This means that there might be four or five collective management organisations which are then in charge for their respective part of the work. Now, I have to agree exactly which part belongs to me. This is where the “disputes” start, because the entry may be different at their end.

Is there no regulation among the copyright management organisations how you can proceed in such situations?
The societies are trying to coordinate their collaboration better in technical working groups. Due to the new competition situation among the organisations, a complete solution for these difficulties has not been found yet.

Music is consumed in small units, the rights representation happens at an even smaller scale, international competition and no smooth processes – doesn’t that frustrate you?
No, that is what makes this job so interesting! Changes such as the internet come to you from outside. You can either put your head in the sand or try to make the most of it. If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway.

But you do understand that authors are stressed out by such a situation?
Of course, it stresses us, too (laughs). We are building a new service here, which will hopefully be profitable and in demand and which gets the most out of it for our members. This can only happen in small steps and with setbacks, but there is also progress: We were able to improve the agreements, modernise infrastructure and the duration between the usage date and the distribution date could be halved since 2012. I am very optimistic.

To the second part of the interview: “Penny-pinching in digital music distribution”

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There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Interview by guest author Silvano Cerutti

Brave new world

“If I compare SUISA with other organisations that are still in their early days when it comes to online, we are already well underway”, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin is convinced. (Photo: Günter Bolzern)

Andreas Wegelin, the distribution of online royalties is affected by delays which caused disappointment in some members. Can you empathise with that?
Andreas Wegelin: It is our job to get as much collected on behalf...read more

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise figures: At the end of 2018, the share of women* among authors was 15.7 percent. In a preliminary study regarding the womens’* share in the Basel pop scene, the result was even worse: Only just 10 percent of the persons who actively made music in the years between 2008 and 2017, were female. These figures are even more disillusioning since the share of girls* in music schools, according to an estimate by Helvetiarockt, is still 50 percent.

Support and sensitisation

Helvetiarockt has been promoting a “significant increase of the womens’* share in the Swiss music business” since 2009. The association follows this objective mainly with an increasingly broad and specific offer of workshops such as a “songwriting camp” and events such as panel discussions.

That way, Helvetiarockt wishes to motivate young women* to become active in the music scene on the one hand. On the other hand, the association wants to specifically support and connect professional female* musicians and sensitise the sector regarding this subject. As a consequence, it is important that the many women* who engage themselves in the association should also be active in the music industry themselves.

Create awareness

Chantal Bolzern is a lawyer and has been working for SUISA between 2004 and 2017. Since 2015, she has been involved in Helvetiarockt, provides input talks regarding the topic “music and right”, and has been female* Co-President of the association since 2018. She counts the fact that Helvetiarockt has been able to create awareness for the main objective of the association among the most important achievements. “We hardly need to discuss it any longer these days whether the equal treatment of women in the music sector is important. We have thus a good basis in order to have a bigger effect.”

Protected environment

It is with satisfaction that Manuela Jutzi states that she no longer has to listen to the question whether there is actually a need for Helvetiarockt. She is a female* Co-Director of the association and already took over the management of the “Female* Bandworkshop” in 2014. “Whenever we run it, the importance for young women* becomes clear time and again, i.e. that they can take the first steps of making music in a protected environment.” Many are still rather inhibited at first – irrespective of whether this might be due to socialisation or old role models. “I can, however, see an improvement that has taken place throughout the years, and a major part of this is due to the fact that young women* can increasingly experience role models on stage.”

Role model function

In fact, it is no longer as it was at the end of the previous millennium where only a few self-confident Swiss female* musicians such as Vera Kaa, Betty Legler or Sina created a stir with their songs – and could thus become role models. Today, there are many examples, for example Nicole Bernegger, Heidi Happy, Stefanie Heinzmann, Sophie Hunger, Anna Rossinelli, Valeska Steiner (Boy) etc. Music styles which had been previously uncommon for Swiss female* musicians are now home to Anna Aaron, Big Zis, KT Gorique, Anna Murphy (Eluveitie) and Steff la Cheffe.

Muriel Rhyner can also act as a role model. She has been involved with Helvetiarockt since the beginning, she is a member of the team and is running the “Female* Songwriting Camp” which had been supported by SUISA in 2019. She also felt that there was a clear change. “When, in 2005, at the age of 17, I seriously chose a music career with The Delilahs, back then a pure womens’* band, I felt rather lonely. I could not exchange my views with other female* musicians – something that is also very important from a human point of view, something I can now experience repeatedly at Helvetiarockt events.” At the “Female* Songwriting Camp”, she keeps discovering that the female* participants are initially rather insecure. “But then, they push each other increasingly – and such a momentum is something I hope for the efforts of Helvetiarockt.”

Development and outlook

It is hard to say by how much exactly the womens’* share in the music scene has improved. SUISA’s evaluation at least revealed that the womens’* share among the new members in the last five years was higher than that of all female* authors (End of 2018: 15.7 percent): It stood between 19 and 21 percent, respectively. That’s a good starting point for the future work of Helvetiarockt.

After years of development and explaining, Helvetiarockt was now in a position where it could focus on the implementation of the association’s objectives, Chantal Bolzern adds. “We now have some good and new instruments such as the Diversity Roadmap which we created together with partner institutions. It shows event organisers how they can recognise diversity and equality in clubs and at festivals.” Next to be added are new offers for professional female* musicians as well as the expansion of the previous contact pool.

The main objective of the association

“We create a new database which is not limited to female* musicians”, Manuela Jutzi reveals. “It should also be open to other women* who are active in the music sector. That way, we can increase the visibility of women* in the music sector and facilitate the exchange among them at the same time.” The main objective for Manuela Jutzi is, however, “that, one day, Helvetiarockt will not be needed any longer.” In her opinion, this would be the case if at least every third person in the music scene was female.

Further information: www.helvetiarockt.ch

* In this text, the notion of the “gender asterisk” (a method to provide a gender-neutral version in the written form of the German language) has been applied, just as it is used by Helvetiarockt.

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  1. Gut möglich, dass Musikerinnen als Urheberinnen noch stark untervertreten sind: Komponieren und Song-Texte schreiben, ist offensichtlich nicht jederfrau’s Interesse und Talent. Hingegen sind gerade Sängerinnen als Interpretinnen (oftmals in Kombination mit Gitarren oder Piano/Keyboards) im Grunde wesentlich zahlreicher, als ihre männlichen Pendants! Wenn sie zudem – wie meistens – auch noch attraktiver aussehen, als singende Männer, verdienen sie auch noch entsprechend besser, als letztere…

    • Elia Meier says:

      Guten Tag Jean-Pierre E. Reinle

      Es ist schön, dass Sie den Fakt anerkennen, dass es weniger Musikerinnen und Urheberinnen gibt. Wir denken aber nicht, dass ein Geschlecht etwas darüber aussagt, welche Themen sie oder ihn interessieren oder worin ein Mensch talentiert ist oder nicht. Natürlich kann es sein, dass aufgrund von gesellschaftlichen Normen Menschen gehemmt sein können, ein für sie unbekanntes/untypisches Terrain zu betreten. Dieses Verhalten hat jedoch nichts damit zu tun, dass diese Menschen nicht wollen. Es hat damit zu tun, dass Netzwerke ausschliessend wirken können. Es braucht uns alle um diese Normierungen und Stereotypen aufzubrechen und Menschen zu ermutigen zu machen was sie lieben. So haben wir in einer gleichgestellten Welt hoffentlich auch bald mehr Männer am Gesang und mehr Frauen am Schlagzeug. Ihrem Punkt bezüglich konventioneller Attraktivität, pflichten wir insofern bei, dass es durchaus so ist, dass leider Äusserlichkeiten zu Erfolg beitragen können. Wir sehen diesen Aspekt aber für alle Geschlechter. Nur wird es bei Männern nie herausgehoben. Frauen werden, so wie hier an Ihrem Beispiel, immer wieder systematisch auf ihr äusseres reduziert. Dabei wird ihnen jegliche Expertise abgesprochen. Wir wünschen uns genauso wie Sie, dass es ausschliesslich um Expertise geht. Und, dass diese Expertise unabhängig von äusserlichen Merkmalen und unabhängig von Geschlecht, allen Menschen zugetraut wird. Dafür müssen wir uns alle tagtäglich an der Nase nehmen, gelernte Strukturen zu durchbrechen. Es würde uns freuen Sie dabei an unserer Seite zu wissen.

      Freundliche Grüsse Elia Meier, Helvetiarockt

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For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise...read more

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

On 26 March 2019, after months of protest on the streets and in the Internet community, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Revision of copyright law in Switzerland and the EU: where are the similarities, where are the differences? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the revision of Swiss copyright law back to the advisory Committee for Science, Education and Culture (CSEC) with instructions to take into account current developments in the EU.

Despite the carefully balanced compromise fostered in the Working Group on Copyright (AGUR) by Federal Councillor Sommaruga, Minister of Justice at the time, the copyright law revision is now threatened by further delays, not to mention the risk that special interests, which had been set aside as part of the compromise, may surface anew.

The main revisions in the EU Directive

The European Directive contains two fundamental improvements in copyright protection which are particularly controversial:

the liability of platform providers for the sharing of content uploaded by consumers
This provision mainly concerns the major social media platforms (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, or GAFA for short). Under existing EU law, platform operators can argue that they are merely service providers and are not responsible for the content made available on their platforms. This position is rooted in the EU’s e-commerce directive of 2000, which had limited the liability of service providers (under what was termed the “safe harbour” principle) with a view to stimulating the digital economy.

In the meantime, it has been rightly recognised that the uploading of protected content by private persons infringes copyrights. Even providers such as Google have sought contact with major rights owners and collecting societies because of Youtube, but only offered financial compensation on a “voluntary” contractual basis. It is precisely because content-sharing platforms like Youtube make available practically all existing content that they are so popular with growing numbers of music and film enthusiasts.

Article 17 of the new Directive (Article 13 of the original draft) provides that EU Member States must enact rules stipulating that service providers are liable for the content shared (uploaded) on their platforms.

As a result, GAFAs will be obliged either to conclude licence agreements with all rightholders, or to introduce technical mechanisms (upload filters) to prevent altogether the uploading of protected content. It was this latter prospect which inflamed the Internet community and led to demonstrations in front of the EU Parliament against what was feared would lead to drastic restrictions on the freedom of expression and artistic freedom.

Protecting press publishers from the publication of their articles on internet platforms
Article 15 (formerly 11) of the new Directive also proved very controversial in the parliamentary debates. The proposed neighbouring rights protection was designed to grant publishers a participation in the dissemination of their content, e.g. on Google News. Interestingly, however, the simple reference to Google News can serve to increase a press publisher’s reach, and news per se cannot be protected by copyright. Similar regulations in individual EU countries have proved ineffective, particularly because major publishers prefer to benefit from free advertising on Google News rather than threaten Google News with a licence claim and risk being ignored.

The key points of the Swiss revision

Different legal situation compared to the EU
The Federal Copyright Act (FCA) and Switzerland’s legal situation are considerably different to EU law and the copyright legislation of the individual EU Member States. The EU Directive of 2000 on the single market is not applicable in Switzerland. GAFAs cannot invoke the “safe harbour” principle here. In principle, platform operators are already liable for the content shared by their users, but enforcing a liability claim is a complex and hazardous process. Switzerland’s copyright legislation also recognises the principle that, relying on private copying rules, consumers are entitled to use content from the Internet regardless whether or not the source is licensed to make it available. This liberal approach reflects the acknowledgement that only the provider can reasonably license the mass consumption of content from the Internet, certainly not the consumer.

The AGUR compromise
The AGUR compromise was adopted in March 2017 in the context of the Swiss legal framework described above. Relying on that compromise – which contained some grey areas disadvantageous to authors – the Federal Council submitted a revised bill to Parliament. The bill contained a “stay down” obligation designed to reinforce the liability of online content-sharing service providers: once content is qualified as illegal, providers must keep it off their platforms permanently. In addition to other important improvements for authors, which we have already reported elsewhere, the Federal Council’s proposal contains changes for digitisation, such as a “scientific” exception or limitation for text and data mining, and licensing simplifications through extended collective licensing. The last two proposals are also part of the recently adopted EU Directive (Articles 4 and 12).

Remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights for publishers
On 12 February 2019, the Committee of the Council of States proposed to introduce an entitlement to remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights protection for publishers whose work is used on Internet platforms. The introduction of an entitlement to remuneration for journalists would certainly be welcome, and might even suffice if journalists, as the original creators, would involve their publishers in the claims. This would avoid having to introduce a controversial neighbouring right with the dubious effect described above.

Exception for libraries
At the last minute, the Committee of the Council of States also proposed to exempt public libraries from the obligation to pay remuneration for the rental of works – a provision in force since 1993. Public libraries lobbied actively for this exemption; under the existing tariff, libraries do not have to pay a fee on the rental of works provided they charge an annual fee rather than individual fees when they rent out works. Whatever the case, the truth of the matter is that libraries make books, DVDs, CDs or music streaming available to their users for a small fee, in competition with the markets concerned.

Exception for reception in hotel and guest rooms
As with public libraries, the exception for guest rooms deviates from the AGUR compromise to the detriment of authors. Intensive lobbying by the hospitality industry had already led the National Council to propose an exception for the reception of programmes in hotel rooms and holiday flats in December 2018. Moreover, the exception was extended to rooms in institutions and prison cells. This demand also stems from a tariff dispute with the collecting societies. In 2017, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the use of works in such premises did not qualify as private use if the hotelier or landlord arranges reception and makes the corresponding equipment available. In this case, both are acting with the intent of making a profit, i.e. the provision of reception facilities for protected content is a sales argument for landlords and influences their turnover. Artists should not be required to subsidise the hospitality industry through this exception; their situation would then be significantly worse than under existing copyright law.

Switzerland needs updated copyright legislation now – without any new exceptions!

Switzerland has been struggling to modernise its copyright law since 2010. The AGUR compromise made some progress in adapting the law to the contemporary environment. Individual interests that run counter to this modernisation are liable to emerge in parliamentary debates and may even lead to a worsening in the existing law. This must not be allowed to happen. The situation is somewhat different for journalists: the re-use of press products on the Internet must be seriously examined when the law is updated. Maybe the time is not yet ripe. This was also acknowledged by the Committee of the Council of States in its second consultation on copyright law on 29 April, and it called on the Federal Council, by way of a postulate, to examine the development of copyright law in Europe.

In its 2019 summer session, Parliament would be well-advised to adopt the copyright law revision on the basis of the AGUR compromise without any new exceptions for public libraries or the hospitality industry.

Cautious take-over and adaptation of the EU Directive to Swiss specificities

The new EU Directive could nevertheless serve as a model for additional changes to Swiss law in the future. As mentioned above, the CSEC of the Council of States has asked the Federal Council to produce a report on the situation of journalists and newspaper publishers in particular; in this context, the liability of online content-sharing service providers should be examined more closely. What is more, the sharing or uploading of protected content on the Internet is even less controllable than private copying. The EU Directive therefore rightly establishes a liability on the part of GAFAs, because they are the ones who make sharing possible and attractive in the first place. However, it will be difficult for GAFAs to license each uploaded contribution from the individual rightholders.

One option might be to oblige the platforms to remunerate rightholders on a lump-sum basis for the sharing of content on their platforms. Anything demanding unreasonable technical effort to control should generally be allowed; on the other hand, online content-sharing service providers would be obliged to compensate authors and other rightholders via the collecting societies under a legal licence similar to private copying. In the next few years, the Swiss Parliament will have to revisit these issues again in more depth with a view to implementing the EU Directive across the borders.

Post-revision is pre-revision

Swiss copyright legislation is likely to remain a work in progress for some time to come. Digitisation, the easy global exchange of protected works on the Internet, and technological advances such as artificial intelligence or machine learning mean that legal standards will have to be reviewed again. The current revision of Swiss copyright law, hopefully to be completed in June 2019 based on the AGUR compromise, is not final but merely the prelude to the next revision.

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On 26 March 2019, after months of protest on the streets and in the Internet community, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Revision of copyright law in Switzerland and the EU: where are the similarities, where are the differences? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the...read more

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The revision of the existing Copyright Act is entering the decisive phase this year. After seven years’ preparatory work, parliamentary debates have now started. The revised act could come into force on 1.1.2020 if both federal houses respect the delicate compromise. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: when a hotel receives radio or television broadcasts and retransmits them into its guest rooms, it is a use which is relevant for copyright purposes. (Photo: Piovesempre / iStock)

The long road to a minor partial revision started nine years’ ago: in 2010, State Councillor Géraldine Savary asked the Federal Council to propose solutions to prevent the use of illegal online offers. The Federal Council rejected the request arguing that authors could simply give more concerts to make up for the loss in earnings caused by the slump in CD sales. This answer outraged musicians, and rightly so: not all composers can perform their own works.

In summer 2012, Federal Councillor Sommaruga responded to the protests by creating a working group to prepare proposals for the revision of the Copyright Act. AGUR12, as the working group was called, submitted its recommendations in December 2013. Based on those recommendations and on a wealth of additional unacceptable proposals, the Federal Council produced a preliminary bill in 2015 which met with widespread criticism in the consultation process. FC Sommaruga was obliged to reconvene the AGUR in autumn 2016. AGUR12 II concluded its work in March 2017 with a compromise. At the end of 2017, relying largely upon this compromise, the Federal Council submitted a revised bill to Parliament.

Main points of the revised bill

The relevant key elements of the compromise for musical authors are:

  • Obligation for the hosting provider to remove illegal content and to prevent further uploading of such content (Article 39d); provision for processing personal data to facilitate prosecution of illegal uploading of protected music (Article 77i). Additional demands by authors and producers, e.g. to block access to illegal offers on the Internet, met with strong resistance from consumers and network operators, and were disregarded in the compromise. In this context, one should also consider that such blocking in the musical field would in any event have come ten years too late. Thanks to a wide range of affordable, legal and easy-to-use music streaming services, file-sharing networks and illegal services in the musical field have been greatly reduced.
  • SUISA’s right to information from users in tariff negotiations and accelerated procedure for the approval of copyright tariffs (Articles 51 and 74(2))
  • Extended collective licence (Article 43a): this provision, for instance, enables users to obtain a licence from the collecting societies for publications from archives.

Remuneration for video on demand – unnecessary for composers

The Federal Council also proposed to introduce a remuneration claim for music with regard to video on demand (Articles 13a and 35a). Music creators do not, however, need this: Article 10(2) already entitles them to authorise or refuse the use of their works (in this case, film music). SUISA has already concluded licence agreements for VoD services with all main providers. No new remuneration claims are needed. The existing legislation is adequate.

The VoD remuneration claim was primarily designed to enable Swiss filmmakers to receive fair compensation when their films are viewed on new platforms like Netflix. This would reduce the “value gap” that filmmakers suffer because they participate neither in the direct “pay per view” revenue nor in the platforms’ indirect revenues from advertising and the sale of usage data. Conversely to film music composers who are well organised in rights’ management organisations worldwide, Swiss filmmakers have very limited bargaining power and are therefore dependent on this new remuneration claim.

Against the recommendations of AGUR12 II, the Federal Council extended this claim to music authors who, as mentioned above, do not need this special entitlement. Regrettably, the National Council did not follow our reasoning in the detailed discussion of the law in December 2018 and failed to provide for an exception for music authors. The last hope now lies with the Council of States, which will probably deal with the subject in its March session.

New exemption from the obligation to pay remuneration for radio and TV reception in hotel rooms?

In December 2018, the National Council decided, via the back door so to speak, to follow the parliamentary initiative of Valais FDP MP Nantermod and add a new clause in Article 19(1)(d) FCA providing that the retransmission of radio and TV broadcasts, but also of music or video channels, on demand in hotel rooms, rented holiday apartments, hospital rooms and prison cells, are exempted from copyright fees. As a result, authors would be in a worse position than under the existing legislation, and the revision of the law would work largely to their disadvantage.

What is at stake? If a hotel retransmits radio or TV broadcasts to its guest rooms, the retransmission qualifies as a “rebroadcast” within the meaning of Article 10(2)(e) FCA. This was decided by the Federal Supreme Court in 2017. The providers of TV sets and audio players in guest rooms are hoteliers, landlords of holiday apartments, or hospital operators. All of them operate for profit. Such usage does not, therefore, qualify as private use. The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: this is a relevant usage under copyright law.

The decisions are based on the Bern Convention, the most important international treaty in copyright law, and on other international treaties such as the WCT and the WPPT. Switzerland cannot disregard these treaties. If it did, it would expose itself to sanctions because the obligations under the Bern Convention are also enshrined in the WTO Agreement on the Protection of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). To avoid sanctions if Switzerland were to incorporate this new exception into its law, the exception could only apply to the works of Swiss authors – a totally unacceptable discrimination.

“Hotel rooms would hardly be cheaper if the small copyright fee was eliminated.”

What does it cost hoteliers today? Fees are calculated based on the surface area covered by the TV/audio usage. Up to 1000 m2, the monthly licence fee is CHF 38. Hotels with up to 50 rooms of 20m2 each pay less than CHF 1 per room per month. The rate is slightly higher for larger areas. Hotels with 100 rooms pay CHF 91.80, which is still less than CHF 1 per room per month. The cost for hotels is therefore modest. However, all things being equal, the shortfall for authors and other rightholders would add up to some CHF 1 million per year.

Hoteliers pay their other suppliers for all other services delivered to their hotels. These range from electricity and cleaning to soap in the bathrooms. These goods and services are not provided free of charge – they are part of the hotel supply chain. Hoteliers run their hotels for profit, and in-room entertainment contributes to the price of a room and, therefore, to the added value of the hotel. Why should hoteliers who offer this service to their guests not have to pay the music and film rightholders? Exempting hotel rooms from the copyright remuneration obligation would discriminate against authors and other rightholders compared with other suppliers. And consumers would not even benefit from the exemption because hotel rooms would hardly be cheaper if the small copyright fee was eliminated.

The compromise and the FCA revision both at jeopardy

As mentioned above, the compromise bill for the revision of copyright law put together by AGUR12 II and the Federal Council is now on the finishing straight. If Parliament were to significantly worsen authors’ situation by introducing the hotel room exception, authors would feel slighted and might present further demands for revision. With the risk that no new law is adopted and nearly nine years’ revision efforts will all have been for nothing in the end.

If the revision were to deprive them of the right to allow their works to be rebroadcast in hotel rooms against remuneration, music authors would probably be better off under the existing law.

It is essential that we defend the delicate compromise in the coming months and impress on the Councils that no further changes to the detriment of authors are admissible.

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The revision of the existing Copyright Act is entering the decisive phase this year. After seven years’ preparatory work, parliamentary debates have now started. The revised act could come into force on 1.1.2020 if both federal houses respect the delicate compromise. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: when a hotel receives radio or television broadcasts and retransmits them into its guest rooms, it is a use which is relevant for copyright purposes. (Photo: Piovesempre / iStock)

The long road to a minor partial revision started nine years’ ago: in 2010, State Councillor Géraldine Savary asked the Federal Council to propose solutions to prevent the use of illegal online offers. The Federal Council rejected the request arguing that authors could simply give more concerts to make up for...read more

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

Replay TV (also known as time-shift or catch-up TV) offers consumers the option of watching television broadcasts on a time-shifted basis instead of at the regular scheduled time. This function, which is very popular with viewers, is now jeopardised by an ongoing legal and political dispute. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

Replay TV: Thanks to digital technology, viewers can go back in time up to seven days and catch up on any programmes they may have missed. (Photo: Getty Images / Steve Lawrence)

Broadcasting companies, i.e. TV channels, are demanding veto rights on the time-shifted use of their programmes. What is at stake? Their advertising revenues. After all, who will watch commercials if you can skip them in replay? This dispute is of significance for SUISA and for musical rightholders too.

Current status

In past decisions, the Federal Arbitration Commission for copyright and neighbouring rights has equated subscription to a replay TV service with copying for private use, which is permitted by Article 19(2) FCA. In exchange, rightholders (including, in this case, broadcasting companies) are entitled to remuneration in accordance with Article 20(2) FCA, levied by the collecting societies in accordance with Common Tariff 12 (CT 12).

This has been the status since 2013, and broadcasters have not disputed it before the civil courts. This situation has several advantages: the distributors of the broadcasting programmes (Swisscom TV, UPC, Sunrise, etc) can offer their customers attractive services in exchange for a fee. And the collecting societies collect the fees and pass them on to the copyright and neighbouring rights rightholders.

However, in February 2018, the Federal Arbitration Commission responsible for reviewing the tariffs of the collecting societies approved the new CT 12, which provides for a slight increase in these fees, for the period 2017 to 2020. On 21 March 2018, 23 broadcasting companies appealed this decision before the Federal Administration Court. They argued that replay TV was not governed by the legal regime for private copying, and should be subject to their consent. On 12 September 2018, the Court ruled that the broadcasting companies were not entitled to appeal.

In parallel, however, turning to account the ongoing revision of the Telecommunications Act (TCA), the broadcasting companies had also demanded veto rights for replay TV in that context. In July 2018, the Transport and Telecommunications Committee of the National Council (TTC-N) followed their reasoning and introduced Article 12e TCA. This triggered a number of reactions from stakeholders opposed to the new provision. Finally, the Committee backed down and proposed that the issue be resolved in the framework of the copyright law revision.

The issue

SUISA appreciates that broadcasting companies should seek to safeguard their advertising income. This is also in the interest of the holders of musical rights, since the tariffs governing broadcasting rights (tariff A for the SSR and Common Tariff S for private broadcasters) are based on broadcasters’ revenues.

By way of reminder: based on tariff A and CT S, SUISA collected about CHF 16.8 million in remuneration from Swiss TV broadcasters in 2017, plus an additional CHF 1.3 million from the Swiss advertising windows of foreign broadcasters. By comparison, TC 12 generated slightly over CHF 3 million for musical rightholders. We should be careful not to lop off the branch on which musical rights are sitting.

Solutions

However, granting veto rights to broadcasting companies on replay TV seems unjustified. By refusing their consent, broadcasters would limit the offer available to consumers and, as a result, reduce CT 12 revenues for rightholders. By limiting private copying options, which is now regularly the case on the cloud, we would be sounding the death knell for a system that is the envy of our neighbours and has contributed to developing innovative digital services.

We feel that existing copyright law provides for a well-balanced system: under Articles 59 and 60 FCA, remuneration under CT 12 must be fair. That means on the one hand, that distributors must compensate the broadcasting companies commensurately with the significant revenues generated by replay TV. On the other hand, Articles 59 and 60 FCA are worded in sufficiently flexible terms to take into account, at least partially, the same distributors’ loss in earnings.

At the same time, the law could require distributors to obtain the broadcaster’s consent, not to their offering replay TV services to their customers, but to enabling their customers to skip the commercials. This means distributors would have to take the necessary technical measures to prevent viewers from skipping commercials when the broadcaster withholds its consent. Consumers may at first be reluctant to accept such solutions. But such measures would be the lesser evil compared with a broadcaster veto liable to significantly limit the current offer. And, for a number of stakeholders, it is a win-win solution:

  • providers who distribute the programmes could continue offering full replay TV, while consumers could continue subscribing to that option;
  • distribution companies would be able to preserve or increase their advertising revenues since they would have an additional audience of viewers who are unable to tune into programmes at the scheduled times;
  • other rightholders would continue to collect significant broadcasting distribution revenues (tariff A and CT S in the case of musical rights) while taking advantage of the booming revenue flows from CT 12.

Switzerland always favours balanced solutions. The legal regime for replay TV should be no exception to the rule; the interests of all stakeholders must be taken into account.

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Replay TV (also known as time-shift or catch-up TV) offers consumers the option of watching television broadcasts on a time-shifted basis instead of at the regular scheduled time. This function, which is very popular with viewers, is now jeopardised by an ongoing legal and political dispute. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

Replay TV: Thanks to digital technology, viewers can go back in time up to seven days and catch up on any programmes they may have missed. (Photo: Getty Images / Steve Lawrence)

Broadcasting companies, i.e. TV channels, are demanding veto rights on the time-shifted use of their programmes. What is at stake? Their advertising revenues. After all, who will watch commercials if you can skip them in replay? This dispute is of significance for SUISA and for musical rightholders too.

Current status

In past decisions,...read more

Exploitation rights in the EU and review of SUISA’s Articles of Association

Liechtenstein has been – other than Switzerland – a member of the European Economic Area since 1995 and must, as such, accept a major proportion of the European Union legal provisions. What do EU exploitation rights have to do with the revision of the SUISA Articles of Association? Text by Bernhard Wittweiler

Exploitation rights in the EU and review of SUISA’s Articles of Association

Copyright developments in Europe are of importance for Switzerland’s SUISA, too: The image shows CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre on 06 March 2018 handing a petition to the European Parliament. It had been signed by 14,000 authors and composers requesting fair rules in the digital marketplace in order to stop the “transfer of value” on the internet. (Photo: CISAC / Iris Haidau)

The European Union (EU) had, for quite some time, established rules for the collective management of copyright and neighbouring rights via the collective management organisations. Initially, individual decisions were passed by the EU Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which were derived from EU Competition Laws. The EU bodies thus managed to break up the strict territorial demarcation between the collective management organisations (CMO) and the exclusivity of the rights assignment, to facilitate rightsholders’ switching to another CMO and to create more competition between the CMOs in general.

In the nascent age of online exploitation of music, the EU Commission set another milestone with its Recommendation of October 2005. It wanted to achieve the biggest possible competition between the CMOs regarding online rights management as well as improve transparency and equal treatment of all rights holders in the CMOs. The Recommendation resulted in the complete freedom of rightsholders to choose which CMO in Europe they wish to entrust with their online rights, in the creation of one-stop-shops for online licences and multi-territorial online licences.

Rules for collective management

But it didn’t stop there. Over the years, the needs grew for a comprehensive and standardised regulation of the collective management organisations’ activities in the EU and for a harmonised internal market as the basis for collective management. Thus, on 26 February 2014, the Directive on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market (CRM Directive) was issued. Directives are paramount to laws in significance, but do not take direct effect; instead, they have to be implemented by individual EU member states into their national laws.

The CRM Directive has the aim to set minimal standards regarding an orderly mode of operation of collective management organisations (corporate governance), their finance management, transparency and accountability vis-a-vis members, sister societies and the public, the right of co-determination of members, equal treatment and non-discrimination of rights holders, sister societies and users, settlement of disputes, management and licensing of online rights as well as the supervision of CMOs by the authorities.

EU Directive authoritative for Liechtenstein

The CRM Directive of the EU was declared to be authoritative for the States of the European Economic Area (EEA), and thus also Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein therefore had to adopt the Directive and implement it into its national laws. For this purpose, a new, distinct law was created, the Liechtenstein Collecting Societies Act (VGG), which was passed on 29 March 2018 by the Landtag (Parliament). Previous provisions for the collective management in the copyright laws of Liechtenstein were taken over into the VGG.

SUISA has been active in the Principality of Liechtenstein for decades, since 1999 with its own state licence and under the supervision of the respective authority, the Office of Economic Affairs in Liechtenstein, as the supervisory authority. Authors and publishers from Liechtenstein are SUISA members, SUISA collects licence fees for copyright in Liechtenstein based on its tariffs for the music usages that take place there. Just like in Switzerland, the tariffs and the distribution rules valid for Liechtenstein require a state licence and SUISA has to be accountable to Liechtenstein’s supervisory authority each year regarding its business activities.

Adaptation of SUISA Articles of Association

With its activities and licence to operate in Liechtenstein, SUISA is subject to the provisions in Liechtenstein regarding collective management. We are therefore obliged to fulfil the specifications and requirements of the new VGG – and thus also the CRM Directive of the EU. The new provisions do not entail no earth-shattering or major innovations, we already adhere to the majority of the provisions which have been a matter of course for us for a long time. Nevertheless, there are still some areas that require adaptation.

The necessary changes of the SUISA Articles of Association will be presented to the General Assembly on 22 June 2018 for ratification so that they may enter into force from 01 January 2019.

The most important of the proposed changes to the Articles of Association are the following:

  • SUISA membership is no longer dependent on nationality, residence or any other link to Switzerland or Liechtenstein (authors) respectively a presence in Switzerland or Liechtenstein (publishers) (item 5.1);
  • extension of the competence of the General Assembly (item 9.2.2);
  • preparation and publication of a transparency report which shows various information and key figures in addition to the annual report (item 9.2.3);
  • facilitation of electronic participation at the GA, provided that the statutory provisions (in the Swiss OR, the Swiss Federal Code of Obligations) allow us to do so (item 9.2.10, new);
  • declarations by the Board and Management to the GA regarding conflicts of interest (items 9.3.11 and 9.6.4, new);
  • creation of a Complaints Committee (item 9.5, new).

Revision of the Articles of Association for online business

One important strategic business sector of SUISA that depends on the revision of the Articles of Association is the following: SUISA has been licensing music of SUISA members at pan-European level since 2013 in the online sector, partially even far beyond Europe’s borders. Pursuant to the EU Directive, collective management organisations must meet certain standards in order to be able to carry out cross-border licensing within the European Union.

So that SUISA may continue its pan-European licensing in the online sector, the provisions of the EU Directive must be adhered to. The online business is a focus of SUISA’s strategy for the immediate future. By way of revising the Articles of Association, the conditions will be met that SUISA can directly negotiate with and collect from online providers such as iTunes or Spotify regarding exploitations outside Switzerland and Liechtenstein, too.

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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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Liechtenstein has been – other than Switzerland – a member of the European Economic Area since 1995 and must, as such, accept a major proportion of the European Union legal provisions. What do EU exploitation rights have to do with the revision of the SUISA Articles of Association? Text by Bernhard Wittweiler

Exploitation rights in the EU and review of SUISA’s Articles of Association

Copyright developments in Europe are of importance for Switzerland’s SUISA, too: The image shows CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre on 06 March 2018 handing a petition to the European Parliament. It had been signed by 14,000 authors and composers requesting fair rules in the digital marketplace in order to stop the “transfer of value” on the internet. (Photo: CISAC / Iris Haidau)

The European Union (EU) had, for quite some time, established rules for the collective management of copyright and neighbouring rights...read more

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire

Subsidised radio and TV broadcasters in Switzerland and Liechtenstein tend to create more broadcasting space for the music of SUISA members than privately financed channels. Moreover, the majority of the broadcasters supported by the Swiss Federation play more diverse music titles than their counterparts which are focussed on advertising revenue. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire - NO to No Billag

The Association ‘Musikschaffende Schweiz’ (Swiss Music Creatives) presented a “SwissMusicOnAir Award” for the first time in 2017. The prize was awarded to the licensed private radio broadcaster with the highest percentage of Swiss (pop) music in its programme: the subsidised Berne-based local radio Radio BeO. (Photo: Radio BeO)

On average, subsidised Swiss radio channels broadcast a higher percentage of music by SUISA members than private radio channels without any public sector funding. In the case of broadcasters which are subsidised by the Swiss Federation, the number of different music titles in the programme is also usually much higher than in the case of their mainly ad-funded counterparts.

A (co-)funding by the Swiss Federation thus contributes to Swiss music creation and diversity taking place in the broadcast programmes. This conclusion isn’t just plucked out of thin air, as the data included in music use reports reflect, which are available to the two collective management organisations SUISA and Swissperform.

If a company in Switzerland wishes to broadcast radio and/or TV programmes or feed them into cable networks, it requires a licensing agreement with SUISA. Under this agreement, the broadcasters are required to provide exact details relating to the programme they transmit.

Broadcast percentages for music by SUISA members

The information provided on the broadcast music must contain the title of the musical work, the name of the composer(s) and artist(s) as well as the broadcast duration, among others. Such detailed information enables SUISA to carry out a correct distribution of the collected licence fees: The collections will be paid out to those authors and publishers whose works have been transmitted based on the information provided in the broadcast reports for the programmes.

Apart from that, the entirety of the broadcast reports reveals an overview of the entire music programme of a channel. In particular, SUISA is in a position to carry out the analysis of the played music of its own members on a well-founded basis. As soon as at least one of the authors is a SUISA member, the musical piece is considered to be a SUISA work for analytical purposes. A music title whose composers and lyricists are exclusively non-SUISA members are therefore considered to be part of ‘other’ repertoire, irrespective of the artist(s) in the course of establishing the music percentages.

Broadcast percentages SUISA works in 2016 in %

Figures rounded off; source: SUISA. (Graphics: Crafft)

A glance on the calculated broadcast percentages from the year 2016 reveals a clear trend: Subsidised radios create more space for the music of SUISA members than privately funded stations. Please note: Not only the SRG programmes play an increasing portion of SUISA repertoire, but also the local channels such as Radio BeO, Kanal K or Radio Stadtfilter. The latter also receive a share of the radio/TV reception fees. The programme mandate therefore shows its effect in this context.

Programme mandates for the national (SRG) and regional (local broadcasters) public service differ in their respective detail. Both of them are, however, subject to basic provision of Art. 93 of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation: “Radio and television shall contribute to education and cultural development, to the free shaping of opinion and to entertainment. They shall take account of the particularities of the country and the needs of the Cantons. They shall present events accurately and allow a diversity of opinions to be expressed appropriately.”

Diversity in the music programmes of the Swiss radio channels

The cultural mandate of SRG includes cultural reporting, education in the cultural sector as well as cultural promotion. In the course of this service mandate, SRG has agreed guidelines for the promotion of Swiss music creation in the radio programmes in the Swiss Music Charter together with the associations and institutions of the Swiss music sector. An analysis of radio broadcasts dating back to 2015, based on an evaluation by Swissperform, shows the positive impact of the public service mandate on the programme diversity:

Percentage of Swiss music and programming diversity in Swiss radio channels (2015 Analysis)
SRG broadcasters Percentage of Swiss music across all musical programming Number of different music titles Private broadcasters Percentage of Swiss music across all musical programming Number of different music titles
SRF MW 40.31 28,978 Radio 24 12.16 2,320
Swiss Classic 37.38 4,007 Argovia 10.25 2,669
Swiss Jazz 21.07 10,645 Sunshine 11.75 1,746
Virus 57.60 8,206 Central 16.32 6,885
Swiss Pop 36.78 4,929 Zürisee 10.45 4,319
SRF 3 21.25 13,702 Pilatus 11.32 2,389
SRF 2 8.22 16,826 Energy Zürich 1,670
SRF 1 16.95 12,189
Rete Uno 7.45 8,600
Rete Due 8.99 18,335
Rete Tre 14.73 14,209
RTR 37.23 18,176
RTS 1 6.25 12,728
RTS 2 14.28 27,075
RTS 3 20.89 19,220
Option Musique 12.81 6,881
Total 224,706 41,753
Average 22.64 14,044 12.04 3,143
Source: Swissperform

Based on this analysis, nearly every fourth played music title on SRG channels included Swiss music creators (percentage of CH music: 23%). The average percentage of broadcast Swiss music within ad-funded private channels amounted to a mere 12%.

A comparison of the number of various music titles proves another significant difference within the evaluated programmes: The audience of the SRG channels was able to listen to an average of 14,044 different recordings throughout the year. In the programmes of the private radio channels, the average across 12 months amounted to 3,143 recordings, a significantly lower number of different music titles. To put it bluntly: Private channels had a rotation of 9 different songs per day.

In the interest of Swiss music NO to No Billag

The public initiative, marketed under the deceptive title “No Billag” aims at a complete abolition of radio and TV reception fees. The initiators of this campaign have not set their targets on the collection body Billag. Instead, they intend to establish in the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation that the Swiss Federation shall not subsidise any radio and TV stations. At the same time, if the initiative were to be successful, the previously mentioned basic provision according to which radio and TV must contribute to a cultural development and to take the national particularities of a country into account, would be deleted from the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation without replacement.

In a purely commercially oriented radio and TV landscape, the broadcasters would inevitably focus on their advertising revenues. The current facts on broadcast percentages of Swiss Music and the number of different music titles convey an impression which impact such a finance-driven orientation would have on the programme contents. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to categorically reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media.

Further information:
Complete evaluations of the broadcast percentages of SUISA works, both in the radio transmissions of SRG as well as in the broadcasts of private radios in 2016 are published here: www.suisa.ch/hit-parades

NO to No Billag – Campaign against the public initiative

A petition to gather signatures is currently launched among Swiss creators and artists for an appeal with which they take a joint position against the No Billag initiative and for a culturally diverse Switzerland. The campaign is coordinated by the Schweizerische Interpretengenossenschaft (Swiss Artists’ Cooperative) SIG and Swissperform and is supported by numerous representatives from cultural sectors such as SUISA, music creators, the Musikrat (Music Council) and many more. In January 2018, creators and artists want to go public with their joint campaign.

The initiative has, however, not just seen resistance from within cultural circles. There are campaigns by various committees and institutions that are engaged in a NO to No Billag / NON à No Billag on 04 March 2018:

Nein zu No Billag, Initiative by the Unikom radios and others
Nonobillag.ch, interest group «NEIN zu No-Billag» (NO to No Billag)
Sendeschluss? Nein!, Association «Nein zum Sendeschluss» (No to transmission shutdown)
Nein zum Anschlag auf unsere Demokratie, Operation Libero
NON à No Billag, Association contre la disparition des radios et TV
Medien für alle – Médias pour tous – Media per tutti, Verein Medien für alle – médias pour tous – media per tutti
Amici della RSI, Associazione Amici della RSI
Salviamo la RSI, Pagina indipendente per la difesa del pluralismo svizzero dei media
No Billag No Svizzera, Comitato No Billag No Svizzera

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  1. Michel says:

    Seit mindestens 8 Jahren habe ich weder einen Fernseher noch ein Radio eingeschaltet. Ich beziehe mein Unterhaltungsprogramm und die Musik von anderen Diensten, bei denen ich selbst wählen kann, was ich sehen oder hören möchte. Und DAFÜR bezahle ich auch.

    Wenn jemand an der tollen “Vielfalt” der subventionierten Sendern hängt, warum soll ICH das bezahlen? Bezahl doch selbst! So wie ich es auch für meine Interessen tue.

    Simples Verursacherprinzip.

    Die Argumente der “Nein zu No-Billag” sind einfach nur lachhaft.

  2. Guldenfels says:

    No Billag, no cultur ?
    Dieser Slogan ist einfach nur Falsch !
    Entstehen doch genau in der Subcultur, weit weg von Subventionen, die Kreativen Würfe dieser Welt.
    Ausserdem gab es schon vor der Billag-Zwangsgebühren Kulturen….

    • Manu Leuenberger says:

      Bei der Genossenschaft SUISA sind über 36 000 Komponisten, Textautoren und Verleger aus allen musikalischen Sparten angemeldet. Darunter befinden sich auch zahlreiche Musikschaffende, die aus dem Independent-Bereich stammen oder in musikalischen Nischenmärkten tätig sind. Gerade diese Musikschaffenden haben vor allem auf den subventionierten Sendern eine Chance, verbreitet zu werden. (Mit-)Finanzierung aus öffentlicher Hand hat nachweislich einen günstigen Effekt darauf, dass lokale Musik oder Nischenmusik gesendet wird. Dies zeigen die im Artikel geschilderten Zahlen der Sendeanteile und der Anzahl der unterschiedlichen Musiktitel auf. Man denke an Sender wie Kanal K, Radio Lora oder auch die Plattform mx3, die ohne Beihilfe aus den Gebühren nicht existieren können.

      Manu Leuenberger / SUISA Kommunikation

Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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Subsidised radio and TV broadcasters in Switzerland and Liechtenstein tend to create more broadcasting space for the music of SUISA members than privately financed channels. Moreover, the majority of the broadcasters supported by the Swiss Federation play more diverse music titles than their counterparts which are focussed on advertising revenue. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media. Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire - NO to No Billag

The Association ‘Musikschaffende Schweiz’ (Swiss Music Creatives) presented a “SwissMusicOnAir Award” for the first time in 2017. The prize was awarded to the licensed private radio broadcaster with the highest percentage of Swiss (pop) music in its programme: the subsidised Berne-based local radio Radio BeO. (Photo: Radio BeO)

On...read more