SUISA settlement dates 2018 – and one improvement

SUISA shall stick to its established settlement dates in 2018. They comprise, in the main, four quarterly settlements as well as various supplementary settlements spread across the coming year in analogy to the previous year. From the 2nd semester of 2018 onwards, settlements of international collections shall be switched over to a quarterly distribution frequency. Text by Wolfgang Rudigier and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA settlement dates 2018 - and one improvement

Always staying on top of their copyright remuneration: SUISA members get online access to their settlements via the portal “My Account” and can take a look by simply clicking their way through. (Photo: Denis Nata / Shutterstock.com)

The first settlement for international collections shall be paid out at the usual date, at the end of May, in 2018. Later on, after the 2nd semester, the payment of the remuneration from abroad will be switched over to quarterly settlements: Thanks to this improvement, two dates for international settlements will be added in September and December instead of the previous November pay-out.

Another enhancement in terms of international settlements had already been introduced successfully with the recent settlement of November 2017: By way of a new application, the settlements for the remuneration from abroad now also reflect the variety of usage categories of the works (e.g. live, radio, TV, sound recordings, downloads, streaming etc.). Moreover, further usage details (such as online provider, radio channel etc.) are now visible. This requires that such details have been passed on to SUISA by its sister society.

SUISA settlement dates 2018 – an overview

Settlement Date
Quarterly settlement 2018-1 15/03/2018
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (3rd quarter 2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV 3rd quarter 2017)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (3rd quarter 2017)
Reproduction rights online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Adjustments 2018, 1st settlement End of March
Settlements from abroad: Performing, broadcasting and reproduction rights 2018, 1st settlement End of May
Quarterly settlement 2018-2 15/06/2018
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: B, C, D, E, H, Hb, HV, K, Z (2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV 4rd quarter 2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG commercials 2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariffs: S, Y (2017)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (4th quarter 2017)
Reproduction rights, central licensing (2nd semester 2017)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Publisher’s pension benefits Beginning of July
Author’s pension benefits Mid-July
Quarterly settlement 2018-3 15/09/2018
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (1st quarter 2018)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV 1st quarter 2018)
Advertising windows (2016)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (1st quarter 2018)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Settlements from abroad: Performing, broadcasting and reproduction rights 2018, 2nd settlement Mid-September
Blank media levy (CT 4), settlement 2018 Mid-September
Sub-publisher shares cable networks, settlement 2018 Mid-September
Adjustments 2018, 2nd settlement End of September
Re-recording rights settlement, 2018 End of October
Quarterly settlement 2018-4 15/12/2018
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (2nd quarter 2018)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV 2nd quarter 2018)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (2nd quarter 2018)
Reproduction rights, central licensing (1st semester 2018)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Settlements from abroad: Performing, broadcasting and reproduction rights 2018, 3rd settlement Mid-December

Further information on the SUISA settlements can be accessed at:
www.suisa.ch/settlementdates

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SUISA shall stick to its established settlement dates in 2018. They comprise, in the main, four quarterly settlements as well as various supplementary settlements spread across the coming year in analogy to the previous year. From the 2nd semester of 2018 onwards, settlements of international collections shall be switched over to a quarterly distribution frequency. Text by Wolfgang Rudigier and Manu Leuenberger

SUISA settlement dates 2018 - and one improvement

Always staying on top of their copyright remuneration: SUISA members get online access to their settlements via the portal “My Account” and can take a look by simply clicking their way through. (Photo: Denis Nata / Shutterstock.com)

The first settlement for international collections shall be paid out at the usual date, at the end of May, in 2018. Later on, after the 2nd semester, the payment of the remuneration from abroad...read more

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are deemed as earned income from independent activities and therefore have to be taken into consideration for the Swiss Compensation Office (pension funds). That way, later claims and pension reductions at a later stage in life can be avoided. Text by Martin Korrodi

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Many musicians have several income streams. These can include concert fees, honorariums for commissioned compositions as well as salaries for working at a music school or in an orchestra. Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are yet another income category. It is worth making retirement provisions and therefore to pay AHV contributions (pension scheme contributions) on the relevant income. (Photo: Crafft)

All authors who receive remuneration from SUISA for the usage of their works have to declare it as income and pay taxes on it as well as settle the respective social security payment contributions with the pension funds. The remuneration paid out by SUISA is deemed as earned income from independent activities and are thus subject to AHV (pension) contributions.

If the income from independent activities within a year do not amount to more than CHF 2,300, the Compensation Office will only claim the amounts upon request (see info box at the end of the text). Nevertheless it is recommended that members settle smaller amounts, too: This helps to avoid potential contribution gaps which would lead to pension reductions at a later stage in life.

Especially in the case of freelance music creatives it is worth the effort to request a statement of account from the respective Compensation Office branch in order to discover any contribution gaps they might have. If these gaps have arisen over the last five years, the missing amounts can still be paid in.

The tax authorities notify the data in relation to the assessable income to the compensation offices. Based on this data, the Compensation Office can then determine that no AHV contributions were paid in relation to certain portions of the earned income. They can then claim the missing amounts retrospectively. In the case of such later claims, interest on arrears is due on top. It therefore is well worth while to notify the SUISA remuneration to the Compensation Office in good time and to pay the contributions.

AHV (pensions) – obligatory insurance for all

In the case of the federal retirement, death and disability insurance, insurance is mandatory for all persons who live in Switzerland or work in this country. All insured parties – with the exception of children – are obliged to pay in AHV contributions. In this case the yielded earned income usually acts as the basis for calculation.

In the case of earned income arising from employment this is the salary that the employer has paid out. In the case of self-employment, the amounts are due in relation to the income that has been yielded from self-organised entrepreneurial, operational or business activities.

The following directive can be used as a rule of thumb: AHV contributions must always be paid out on those amounts which you declare in your tax assessment as arising from an occupation. The situation is different regarding income such as revenue gained from capital investment or real estate which are – in terms of tax law – regarded as income but not as earned income in the sense of attracting an obligation to pay AHV contributions.

Copyright royalties are earned income

Not only the composition of commissioned music and stage appearances of performing artists but also the exploitation of rights are a type of occupation by means of which income is generated. As a consequence all authors who claim their rights vis-a-vis users and thus generate licence income are deemed to be self-employed.

This also applies in cases when you have assigned your rights for management to third parties – in this case, this is the norm in the area of non-theatrical music, via collective management by a collective management organisation such as SUISA. If you register with SUISA, you sign a rights administration agreement. With this agreement, members assign their rights to SUISA combined with the instruction to SUISA to carry out the rights management.

In such cases it does not matter, by the way, whether composers – whether as a fixed employee or via a one-off honorarium – have already been paid for the creation of the works and whether AHV contributions have already been paid on said type of income. The exploitation of the rights of your own works is an activity which is independent of the former and it leads to additional earned income. As such, it must be settled with the Compensation Office.

“Exemption limit” up to CHF 2,300 per calendar year

In the case of the exemption limit it is important to take into consideration that this amount includes all income from self-employed activities (cumulative). If SUISA income in a specific year were CHF 1,600 but additional income was generated from independent activities (whether as a main or subsidiary occupation) these types of income must be added to the amount above. If the final total lies above the tax exemption limit, AHV contributions must be paid out to the entire amount – including SUISA remuneration.

In the case of employees (those with a dependent occupation) the tax exemption limit shall also be applicable, but separately on a per-employment basis. If the respective salary is below the amount of CHF 2,300, the amounts will only be collected by request of theemployee. In such cases it is recommended to demand the statement, in particular on occasions when you have held several employments with minimal salaries. Certain employers in the creative sector are obliged to settle AHV contributions from the first CHF 1.00 of salary in order to protect the employees. These include dance and theatre producers, orchestras, audio and audiovisual producers, radio and TV as well as schools offering artistic educations.

If the income is made up of self-employed (independent) and non-self-employed (dependent) activities, the tax exemption limit is usually applicable on a per income category basis. The limit of CHF 2,300 applies for the total of all income from independent activities which includes SUISA remuneration. Salaries that have been paid to you as an employee do not have to be added since the income from dependent (employed) occupation can be regarded separately with respect to the exemption limit as described before.

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Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are deemed as earned income from independent activities and therefore have to be taken into consideration for the Swiss Compensation Office (pension funds). That way, later claims and pension reductions at a later stage in life can be avoided. Text by Martin Korrodi

SUISA remuneration is subject to AHV (pension) contributions

Many musicians have several income streams. These can include concert fees, honorariums for commissioned compositions as well as salaries for working at a music school or in an orchestra. Copyright royalties paid out by SUISA are yet another income category. It is worth making retirement provisions and therefore to pay AHV contributions (pension scheme contributions) on the relevant income. (Photo: Crafft)

All authors who receive remuneration from SUISA for the usage of their works have to declare it as income and pay taxes on...read more

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

In the last few years, cable network providers switched their offerings from analogue to digital. In order to take these changes into consideration, the distribution of the collections arising from Tariffs CT 1 (cable networks), CT 2a (retransmitters) and CT 2b (IP based networks) was aligned. In item 5.5.1 of the distribution rules the calculation basis of the reference parameter “number of subscribers” was changed to “daily reach”. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

Even though there is a plethora of digital TV programmes available, only a few of them fill TV screens for a longer period. (Foto: Zeber / Shutterstock.com)

Cable network providers have carried out a migration of their offerings from analogue to digital in the last few years. The number of the radio and TV programmes on offer is now many times higher than before. Until recently, the number of subscribers acted as the calculation basis for the distribution of income from Tariffs CT 1, CT 2a and CT 2b. As a consequence, the distribution depended on the receptability, i.e. on how many subscribers of a cable network provider had the option to receive a specific channel.

With the increase of the broadcaster offerings, the significance of the subscriber numbers regarding the actual work usage has decreased remarkably. This is due to the fact that of the multitude of channels that consumers have at their fingertips today, they only use a few in reality. With the switch of the calculation basis to the reference parameter “daily reach”, what counts in terms of distribution now is what consumers actually watch.

The daily reach corresponds with the share of people who have watched or listened to a specific programme on an average day for at least 30 seconds. The relevant usage is thus registered which goes above and beyond a mere channel hopping.

Distribution more exact based on actual usage

Due to the daily reach as a calculation basis the actual usage is now taken into consideration more: The copyright royalties now flow to those channels that have really been watched or listened to. Channels which were not selected by the consumer or where consumers merely hop through, are not taken into consideration for the allocations into the three broadcaster groupings (SRG SSR, Swiss private channels, foreign channels).

The switch to the reference parameter of the daily reach will entail that more money is going to be distributed to Swiss channels. In the case of the calculation based on subscriber numbers so far, many foreign channels were taken into consideration which are in fact only used by a very small portion of subscribers. This will no longer be the case with a calculation basis in accordance with the daily reach.

IGE (Institute of Intellectual Property) decision dated 26/07/2017 (PDF 1.47 MB, only in German) in relation to “Review of item 5.5.1 distribution rules: Distribution of collections from CT 1, 2a and 2b”
Further information on the distribution keys of SUISA

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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.

Your email address will not be published.

In the last few years, cable network providers switched their offerings from analogue to digital. In order to take these changes into consideration, the distribution of the collections arising from Tariffs CT 1 (cable networks), CT 2a (retransmitters) and CT 2b (IP based networks) was aligned. In item 5.5.1 of the distribution rules the calculation basis of the reference parameter “number of subscribers” was changed to “daily reach”. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in relation to the distribution of Tariff CT 1 and CT 2 collections

Even though there is a plethora of digital TV programmes available, only a few of them fill TV screens for a longer period. (Foto: Zeber / Shutterstock.com)

Cable network providers have carried out a migration of their offerings from analogue to digital in the last few years. The number of the radio and TV programmes on offer is now many...read more

The beats from others – but your own songs

The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities. Text by Martin Korrodi and Claudia Kempf

The beats from others – but your own songs

Those who produce their own songs with bought-out beats have to familiarise themselves with the licensing terms and conditions of the supplier and to mention the “beat maker” on the works registration at SUISA. (Photo: PrinceOfLove / Shutterstock.com)

Producing new works using pre-existing creations is probably one of the oldest and most successful cultural techniques in existence. Due to the technical developments, the integration of “third-party” beats into your own songs becomes simpler every day, and is thus widespread – especially in the genres of hip-hop and rap.

Raw material for the song production

Under the term “Sampling”, this practice has been in place for several decades. Whereas, in the case of sampling, elements are taken from market-ripe productions and processed further, a multitude of platforms nowadays offer a huge range of beats which are produced specially as raw material for “building” your own songs.

When implementing such pre-fabricated elements it is vital to observe that you don’t just have to “buy” the recording but also acquire the legal authorisations in order to use the recording and the underlying composition for your own works. What the purchaser may do with the acquired beat is set out in so-called licensing terms and conditions. Such “small print” may, for example, carry different names on the websites of the suppliers, such as “license agreement”, “terms of use”, “licensing contract” or “legal matters”.

Watch out for the small print!

Customers usually assume that they may do anything they like with the acquired material as soon as they have purchased the respective beat. This process is, however, usually not a typical purchase agreement but a licensing agreement which often contains limiting terms and conditions and may therefore prevent the registration and exploitation of the finished song.

Under a purchase agreement, the title to a specific work copy is acquired (e.g. on a CD). In this process the buyer has, however, not acquired any rights in the works (compositions) and performances (recordings) which are included on the CD.

Especially when working with pre-fabricated beats, buyers must be clear which copyright-relevant actions are permitted with regards to the beats and which ones are not (reproduction, arrangement etc.) This also applies if you obtain the beats free of charge.

Check list: Check these 9 items first before buying the beats

The following overview collates the most important items that you ought to observe from a legal perspective when acquiring beats via the internet:

  • The licensing terms and conditions (license agreement, terms and conditions, etc.) must always be examined thoroughly! In the case of uncertainties, it is imperative that you consult with the supplier or with SUISA before you complete the purchase transaction.
  • Certain offers only allow the non-commercial exploitation: In such cases, neither the sale of the song (via digital or physical media), nor TV or radio plays are permitted. As a consequence, a monetisation via Youtube is not allowed either.
  • The licence often only covers a specific number of copies of the finished song (e.g. “up to 3,000 units”). If this number is exceeded, a new licence has to be acquired, depending on the respective provisions, or a share in the collected revenue for the exploitation has to be paid to the beat maker.
  • Some licensing models explicitly provide for an exclusion of specific exploitations (e.g. “TV/Radio plays not included”).
  • The producers of the beats are often members of a collective management organisation themselves and demand that they participate with a certain percentage as co-authors when the finished songs are registered.
  • In nearly all cases, the name of the beat maker has to be mentioned when the finished song is used in line with the beat maker’s stipulations (Credits).
  • In the case of non-exclusive licences it is imperative to observe that other customers may also use the same material for their songs.
  • It is often possible to acquire the material on an exclusive basis if you pay a higher fee. In such cases, the respective beat will be deleted from the store once the purchase process has been completed and is thus no longer available to any other customers. In the case of exclusive deals, all necessary authorisations are usually granted in order to be able to exploit the finished song without any limitations.
  • Guarantee and indemnity: Customers who invest a lot of time and money also want to be sure that the finished production is free from third-party claims. In the licensing terms and conditions, the beat maker should therefore issue a guarantee to this end and indemnify customers from any third-party claims.

Registration of the finished songs with SUISA

Due to the rights administration agreement, SUISA has the duty to license the works of its members vis-a-vis the customers. The rights administration agreement applies consistently to all works of a member – it is usually not possible for SUISA to take limitations for a specific song contained in the licensing agreement with the beat maker into consideration.

In particular, SUISA shall not monitor the number of licensed copies or exempt specific exploitations of a song from its licensing activities. As a consequence, SUISA cannot accept any work registrations which contain beats whose use is only permitted subject to restricted conditions.

Mention the beat maker in the work registration

The work registration must be in line with the contents of the licensing agreement. As a consequence, the shares for the exploitation of the beats must be clearly stipulated in the agreement or in the terms and conditions of business. If the shares are not clearly specified, and this does, unfortunately, sometimes happen, they have to be clarified with the supplier.

The following provisions can often be found:

  1. The beat maker must receive a specific percentage of the collected income for the exploitation. In the work registration, the beat maker must be mentioned as a composer with this very percentage.
  2. The beat maker will not receive a share but demands “Credits”; his/her name therefore has to be mentioned. In the work registration, the beat maker must be mentioned as a composer with a 0% share.
  3. The beat maker neither asks for a share nor for “Credits”. The beat maker must still be mentioned as a composer with a 0% share. If the name of the composer is not known, “unknown” may be entered in the composer field.

Independently of the licensing provision, the beat maker must therefore always be mentioned in the work registration. On top of that, a note needs to be made in the comments field when registering the work that it contains a purchased beat. Moreover, it is mandatory to provide a copy of the licensing agreement.

The following shall also apply here: If works are created where several authors have contributed, the shares and authorisations must be clearly specified prior to publication.

Purchase via the internet
The purchase of beats via the internet from an unknown supplier holds the same risks as any other purchase on the internet. The government has therefore issued some basic guidelines which should be observed when making purchases on the internet.
Jamahook – a social network for musicians
A portal by musicians for musicians is currently in its infancy, which shall facilitate the collaboration between musicians, beat makers and producers. The core piece of this platform is a sophisticated algorithm which allows to find suitable sounds or beats matching your own music – in an instant. The search includes harmonies, rhythms, tempo and timbre. Jamahook does not just simplify the musical collaboration but also the regulation of copyright-related legal aspects. In this context, SUISA supports the makers of this platform which has its registered office in Switzerland. More info on this project: www.jamahook.com as well as www.youtube.com/jamahook
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The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities. Text by Martin Korrodi and Claudia Kempf

The beats from others – but your own songs

Those who produce their own songs with bought-out beats have to familiarise themselves with the licensing terms and conditions of the supplier and to mention the “beat maker” on the works registration at SUISA. (Photo: PrinceOfLove / Shutterstock.com)

Producing new works using pre-existing creations is probably one of the oldest and most successful cultural techniques in existence. Due to the technical developments,...read more

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the European Court of Justice dating back to 2015 and two German court decisions made last year have challenged the basic principle of a participation of publishers with respect to remuneration paid out by collective management organisations. Here are the reasons why what happened at Gema cannot repeat itself at SUISA. Text by Martin Korrodi

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the Supreme Court Berlin has shaken the traditional distribution practice at Gema. Due to the legal situation in Switzerland, publishers will be able to participate – as usual – in the distributable amount from SUISA. (Photo: Niroworld / Shutterstock.com)

It was the decision by the Supreme Court Berlin against Gema in particular which left many publisher members of SUISA in a state of uncertainty, as it rather specifically affects the participation of music publishers in the payment of royalties. Would it also be possible in Switzerland that a comparable decision could declare the long-term distribution practice by SUISA to be invalid?

The decision of the Supreme Court Berlin

On 14 November 2016, the Supreme Court Berlin decided that Gema may only include such members in its royalty collection pay-outs who have effectively transferred their rights management to it. Even if the decision only refers to two specific cases, where authors disagreed with the participation of their publishers, the court’s reasoning challenges Gema practices in general.

A central argument in the opinion of the court is the so-called principle of priority: It determines that a rights owner cannot assign his/her rights a second time after he/she has already made a valid rights transfer to a third party – the first rights transfer collides with any subsequent rights transfer of the same rights.

In this context, what this actually specifically means is that an author who has already assigned his/her rights to Gema via a rights administration agreement, cannot assign those rights once more when signing a publishing contract. As a consequence, a participation of the publisher is – based on this decision – out of the question, as the publisher has not acquired any rights which justify a participation.

Furthermore, a participation of the publisher is not justified if only the “publishing rights” have been assigned. Publishing rights in the music sector traditionally includes only the right of reproduction and distribution of music scores. These rights are not managed by Gema. Since, in this case, the definition of the assigned rights in the publishing agreement is too limited, no justification for a publisher participation arises as a consequence.

The court has determined the distribution plans of Gema to be invalid, as far as they provide for a generic publisher participation which only requires the conclusion of a rights administration agreement as well as the notification of the published works, and not the assignment of rights. This, however, was leading to a participation of a party without entitlement to the remuneration, which, in turn, was in violation of the legally embedded prohibition of arbitrary action.

Law and practice in Switzerland

In general, the principle of priority for right assignments also applies in Switzerland: Such authors that have originally acquired and validly assigned rights, cannot transfer these rights again to a third party at a later point in time. In line with local laws this does not automatically imply that a publisher has no right to a participation as soon as an author has joined SUISA prior to the conclusion of a publishing agreement.

These findings are mainly linked to the fact that Swiss Law does not make the entitlement to participate in the remuneration dependent on whether the party holding the rights has actually assigned the rights to the collective management organisation. Art. 49 URG (Swiss Copyright Act) expressly distinguishes between the “original holders of rights” (authors) and “other entitled parties” (such as publishers), between whom the distributable amount is to be shared. The entitlement of a publisher to participate in the remuneration therefore mainly arises from the contractual agreements the publisher has entered into with the author.

Publishers’ participation at SUISA

In line with the above, SUISA may only consider a publisher for distribution purposes if the authors have agreed to this and expressly instruct SUISA to participate the publisher in all or specific remuneration arising from the exploitation of their works (so-called right of instruction of the principal). It is necessary to take into consideration – even in Switzerland – that the scope of the rights assignment is unequivocally stated in the agreement, so that SUISA may participate the publisher in the collections from the individual usage rights and compensation claims. It can therefore be assumed that a mere assignment of the subjective publishing right without further specifying the respective rights may not justify a publisher’s participation in all rights managed by SUISA either.

Furthermore, the distribution rules – in analogy to the legal situation in Germany – must not contain any provisions which imply that publishers participate in the collected remuneration as a principle without specifying an express contractual basis. The SUISA distribution rules meet these requirements by admitting publishers as parties entitled to receive a payment only in those cases where they fulfil their “contractual obligations” vis-a-vis the authors. With regards to the determination of the relevant shares of the parties entitled to receive a payment the distribution rules refer to the contractual arrangements between authors and publishers.

As a consequence it seems rather unlikely that a publisher participation at SUISA would fail for the same reasons as was the case in the European Union and especially in Germany. Despite this position, SUISA is currently optimising some provisions in its distribution rules, its general terms and conditions for rights administration and the SUISA model publishing agreement in order to exclude any residual risks.

Reactions to the decision in Germany
The German Bundestag has immediately suggested the launch of a review of the Act on Collective Management Organisations (CMO Act, VGG) in order to counteract the legal uncertainty which had arisen as a consequence of the decision. The new provisions affect the participation of publishers that have not assigned the rights directly (mitigation of the principle of priority) on the one hand, and the option to participate a publisher in the remuneration collected from the management of statutory compensation claims, on the other hand.
In order to legitimate the publisher participation for the past and guarantee it for the future, Gema has made a confirmation process available to its members. In the course of this process, the involved parties can declare their consent to the shares determined in the Gema distribution plan and to agree with a mutual participation which is not based on who has actually assigned the rights to Gema. www.gema.de/de/aktuelles/verlegerbeteiligung/
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Dual memberships: SUISA, and what else?Dual memberships: SUISA, and what else? SUISA manages the rights for its members globally. You should carefully review and consider the relevant effort and income if you wanted to become a member of several authors’ societies. If you live outside of Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein, you can also become a SUISA member. Last but not least, it is also possible to be a member of another collective management organisation in addition to your SUISA membership. The following FAQs are intended to summarise what you need to consider when contemplating a so-called dual membership. Read more
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A decision by the European Court of Justice dating back to 2015 and two German court decisions made last year have challenged the basic principle of a participation of publishers with respect to remuneration paid out by collective management organisations. Here are the reasons why what happened at Gema cannot repeat itself at SUISA. Text by Martin Korrodi

Publishers’ participation at SUISA not at risk

A decision by the Supreme Court Berlin has shaken the traditional distribution practice at Gema. Due to the legal situation in Switzerland, publishers will be able to participate – as usual – in the distributable amount from SUISA. (Photo: Niroworld / Shutterstock.com)

It was the decision by the Supreme Court Berlin against Gema in particular which left many publisher members of SUISA in a state of uncertainty, as it rather specifically affects the participation of...read more

SUISA settlement dates 2017 – an overview

SUISA members whose works are performed, broadcast, reproduced or used online a lot can look forward to receiving remuneration at least four times per year for their work on lyrics or compositions or their publishing activities. In 2017, SUISA will continue with its quarterly distributions that it had successfully introduced previously. Minor modifications serve the purpose of distributing the income swiftly and cost-effectively. Text by Manu Leuenberger

SUISA settlement dates 2017 – an overview

During financial year 2016, 15,106 authors and 1,373 publishers received one or several settlements from SUISA. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA payments are a “bonus in June” for Sophie Burande and Léonard Gogniat of Carrousel, as mentioned in an interview, and “a recognition of the work involved in writing lyrics and composing music”. In another conversation with us, Camilla Sparksss alias Barbara Lehnhoff said that she considered SUISA settlements as a helpful and “lovely Christmas present each year”.

Whether Christmas present or “summer bonus”: The points in time where SUISA members can look forward to receiving their copyright royalties are connected to the SUISA settlement dates. Members who are due royalties on the basis of SUISA’s distribution rules, receive a payment on these dates.

The rhythm of payments to authors and publishers had been increased a while ago: From 2015 onwards, SUISA introduced quarterly settlements. As a consequence, the collected remuneration will be passed on to rights holders four times per year.

Quarterly distribution of collections to authors and publishers

In 2017, SUISA will continue with its quarterly distributions that it had successfully introduced previously. There are only minor modifications compared to the previous year. These few improvements are another step in the direction of SUISA’s goal to pay out the remuneration as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

The distribution category SRG TV is paid out more quickly: Previously, the distribution of collections from this category took place twice a year. From 2017 onwards, the relevant remuneration will be paid out four times per year in the course of the quarterly settlements. SRG is the biggest licensee, or customer, of SUISA. As a consequence, the remuneration amounts in category SRG TV that are now paid out more quickly to authors and publishers of the broadcast music are relatively high.

From 2017 onwards, advertising window settlements will no longer be run separately but as part of the 3rd quarterly payment in mid-September. The integration of this supplementary settlement into the quarterly distribution is a simplification of the handling process and thus saves costs.

Overview of SUISA’s 2017 settlements calendar

Settlement Date
Quarterly settlement 2017-1 15/03/2017
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (3rd quarter 2016)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio 3rd quarter 2016)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (3rd quarter 2016)
Reproduction rights online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Adjustments 2017, 1st settlement End of March
Settlements from abroad: Performing, broadcasting and reproduction rights 2017, 1st settlement End of May
Quarterly settlement 2017-2 15/06/2017
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: B, C, D, E, H, Hb, HV, K, Z (2016)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio 4th quarter 2016)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG TV, 2nd semester 2016)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG commercials 2016)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariffs: S, Y (2016)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (4th quarter 2016)
Reproduction rights, central licensing (2nd semester 2016)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)
Supplementary settlements
Publishers’ pension benefits Beginning of July
Authors’ pension benefits Mid-July
Quarterly settlement 2017-3 15/09/2017
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (1st quarter 2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV, 1st quarter 2017)
Advertising windows (2015)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (1st quarter 2017)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)
Blank media levy (CT 4), settlement 2017
Sub-publisher shares cable networks, settlement 2017
Supplementary settlements
Adjustments 2017, 2nd settlement End of September
Re-recording rights settlement, 2017 End of October
Settlements from abroad: Performing, broadcasting and reproduction rights 2017, 2nd settlement End of November
Quarterly settlement 2017-4 15/12/2017
Domestic performing rights, tariffs: D, K, Z (2nd quarter 2017)
Domestic broadcasting rights, tariff: A (SRG Radio & TV, 2nd quarter)
Reproduction rights, tariffs: PA, PI, PN, VI, VN (2nd quarter 2017)
Reproduction rights, central licensing (1st semester 2017)
Reproduction rights, online (Downloads & Streaming)

Further information is available on the SUISA website in the form of explanations of the SUISA settlement and a list of the private broadcasters included in the settlements.

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“Without an organisation like SUISA many songs would never have been created” The famous and popular musician Peter Reber has been a SUISA member since 1971. In a written interview, the composer, lyricist, artist and publisher explains, why his collective management organisation is important for him and why – from his point of view – it is not necessary that collective management organisations should be subject to a stricter supervision. Read more
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SUISA members whose works are performed, broadcast, reproduced or used online a lot can look forward to receiving remuneration at least four times per year for their work on lyrics or compositions or their publishing activities. In 2017, SUISA will continue with its quarterly distributions that it had successfully introduced previously. Minor modifications serve the purpose of distributing the income swiftly and cost-effectively. Text by Manu Leuenberger

SUISA settlement dates 2017 – an overview

During financial year 2016, 15,106 authors and 1,373 publishers received one or several settlements from SUISA. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA payments are a “bonus in June” for Sophie Burande and Léonard Gogniat of Carrousel, as mentioned in an interview, and “a recognition of the work involved in writing lyrics and composing music”. In another conversation with us, Camilla Sparksss alias Barbara Lehnhoff said that she considered SUISA...read more

New Pension Fund Regulations in force from 01 January 2017

During SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly on 24 June 2016 in Berne, the review of the Pension Fund Regulations was ratified by SUISA members. The changes came into force per 01 January 2017. What do the new regulations mean for our members? Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

New Pension Fund Regulations in force from 01 January 2017

The current regulations for the SUISA Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers is available in Italian, French and German on SUISA’s website. (Image: Manu Leuenberger)

There were various reasons for SUISA tabling a review of the Pension Fund Regulations: The old regulations set off discussions time and again on whether they sufficiently reflected practice, and that the wording was not specific enough. These issues could be remedied with the review. On top of the above issues, the regulations had to be adapted to the current legislation (Federal Law on Occupational Retirement, Survivors’ and Disability Pension Plans/foundation law). Following these amendments, we now have a set of current and fair Pension Fund Regulations.

This is what the system now looks like for our members:

Authors

The Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers (UVF) provides for pension support for our members and affiliates. Once they have reached their pension age, a payment to authors and their respective survivors is guaranteed subject to specific conditions and up to a specific amount at previous levels. The UVF pays such guaranteed income as a pension benefit in such cases if less or no remuneration at all is paid in the course of ongoing distributions. In contrast to a support for the second pillar, the UVF fund only finances the part which authors do no longer receive from the ongoing SUISA distributions.

The UVF fund guarantees authors an income from SUISA when they reach pension age. This is calculated based on the annual average of their previous earnings from the SUISA distributions (the so-called reference income), depends on the membership length and is also multiplied with a factor to be determined by the Pension Board.

The effective pension payment corresponds to the difference between the reference income and the SUISA remuneration in the pension year. The level of the guaranteed income is set at a maximum of CHF 38,500 per annum. Those who receive royalties of more than CHF 38,500 from SUISA distributions for performances and broadcasts, even at pension age, will not be eligible to benefit from the UVF.

The fund is financed by the deductions that SUISA makes from all distributions of the collections arising from performances, broadcasts and compensation claims in Switzerland and Liechtenstein (7.5%).

Publishers

SUISA also makes a deduction on behalf of publishers for the UVF. The UVF thus also provides for pension benefits for publishers if they fulfil the conditions in terms of publishing activities in Switzerland. Publishing companies can, however, not be pensioned. As a consequence, they receive benefits from the fund as soon as they are accepted as affiliates and/or members of SUISA; these benefits are made in the form of contributions to their own occupational benefit institution of the second pillar. It is important that publishers inform SUISA about their occupational benefit institution and submit the relevant payment details.

Revised Pension Fund Regulations

There are no fundamental changes to the SUISA benefits system. The most important changes, apart from some specifications and formulations, are:

  1. Various adaptations to the Federal Law on Occupational Retirement, Survivors’ and Disability Pension Plans (BVG).
  2. Conditions for the pension of civil partners – as per the new BVG definition – are: The same regulation shall apply for registered and (unregistered) surviving partners as for surviving spouses.
  3. New competence of the Pension Board (Board of SUISA) for regulation changes.

On SUISA’s website, under www.suisa.ch/fuersorgereglement the new regulations as well as a synoptical representation is available, comparing the old and currently valid regulations with the relevant amendments and comments.

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During SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly on 24 June 2016 in Berne, the review of the Pension Fund Regulations was ratified by SUISA members. The changes came into force per 01 January 2017. What do the new regulations mean for our members? Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

New Pension Fund Regulations in force from 01 January 2017

The current regulations for the SUISA Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers is available in Italian, French and German on SUISA’s website. (Image: Manu Leuenberger)

There were various reasons for SUISA tabling a review of the Pension Fund Regulations: The old regulations set off discussions time and again on whether they sufficiently reflected practice, and that the wording was not specific enough. These issues could be remedied with the review. On top of the above issues, the regulations had to be adapted to the current legislation (Federal...read more

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

After a two-year test phase, hit box monitoring has been the basis for the distribution of remuneration for music on sound recordings since January 2014. Now, a first review can be made regarding this new system, both in relation to the data collected and the reactions of the members and owners of the clubs in question. Text by Nicolas Pont

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

Verified by hit box monitoring: “Jung verdammt” by Lo &Leduc has been played more often in Swiss clubs during 2015 than Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”. (Photo: Luca Monachesi)

The aim of the revision of distribution category 12 which is affected by the hit boxes, as well the functionality of such devices have been explained in SUISAinfo 3.13 (in German, PDF, 730 KB). Just to clarify: Hit boxes are mainly used for the distribution of the copyright royalties relating to dance and entertainment events inside (discotheques) and outside of the hospitality industry (fairs, street festivals) i.e. at events where music is important but is not the only reason stated for attending.

If a DJ performs at a concert, the distribution shall be made, just like before, based on the programmes that are submitted by the artists and then forwarded by the organisers to SUISA. This also applies to festivals with electronic music such as the Electron Festival in Geneva. In total, about CHF 6m are distributed for entertainment events live and sound recording music per annum, arising from 13 different tariffs. The distribution for sound recording music is made on the basis of a data analysis by Yacast, a French system provider.

Aim of the hit boxes: a fair distribution of the remuneration to authors and publishers

For a representative selection of clubs which takes the different music genres and linguistic regions of the country into consideration, statisticians from the University of Zurich were involved. During the initial phase of installation, some club owners had reservations regarding the hit boxes. In the meantime, however, these reservations have mostly subsided. Admittedly, occasional technical problem during installation or maintenance of the hit boxes. Cables that do no longer work, or have accidentally been removed can be the cause for problems.

Other initial fears could be allayed or rebutted: In the beginning, some assumed that the box would also record personal conversations and thus could be manipulated to record the music of a smartphone instead of the music actually played in the discotheque. Verifications of test recordings showed, however, that private conversations cannot be heard. Furthermore, an external ambient microphone fixed to the hit box serves the purpose to prove the matching between the music recorded and the music that was actually played in the club.

The openness of the club owners vis-a-vis the hit boxes has to be applauded. Especially places where niche music is being played, help promoting local artists with such hit box installations and challenges those who accuse the monitoring system to favour majors and so-called mainstream music. The aim to allocate the collections as fairly as possible to the authors of the played music can be reached by selecting the most representative clubs possible, where monitoring takes place.

Detection rate above 95%

Yacast has committed itself by contract to guarantee a specific detection rate. This aspect was also thoroughly verified during the test phase. Since the hit boxes have been introduced two years ago, the detection rate rose to 96% in 2014 and to 97% in 2015. Furthermore, a system was introduced which provides members who doubt the recognition of their works with a direct access to the database of Yacast so that they can upload their audio files. In order to be able to do so, you need to register here.

Several members and users wanted to know the criteria upon which the venues had been selected where a hit box was installed. They also asked for a list of such venues. SUISA was not able to satisfy this request. It has to be able to guarantee that the monitoring system cannot be manipulated. If the places where such hit boxes are installed were to become known, there is a possibility that performance venues could be selected and targeted based on these details. As a consequence, the representative character of the data and thus the distribution of the collections would be manipulated. It is not the aim to avoid transparency or to mask the data, but to guarantee a confidentiality which is indispensable for the smooth functioning of the system.

Nevertheless, the following details can be provided: In 2014 and 2015, 43, resp. 45 of the approx. 500 clubs and discotheques in Switzerland were equipped with a hit box. The recordings are not made on a continuous basis but at alternating points in time, which are not evident due to the installation in the club to anyone. The varying times of the recordings and recognition is another measure to ensure that the system cannot be manipulated. An average of 6,000 hours of music are recorded each year, and were allocated to nearly 30,000 works.

Lo & Leduc beat Beyoncé!

The Swiss is a music import country, SUISA distributes about half of its collections to rightsholders abroad. When SUISA decided to begin a distribution based on the hit boxes, it was acutely aware of the fact that this tendency could be confirmed. It was, in fact, the case, but to a much lesser degree than anticipated, and with a few surprises in waiting. One example is the title “Jung verdammt” by the Berne band Lo & Leduc, exclusively consisting of SUISA members. This title was among the ten most played titles and was way ahead of Beyoncé’s «Crazy in love».

One of the reasons for using the hit boxes is that the old system, based on programme reports, led to misuse and also had gaps. Reports had previously been submitted concerning music events in clubs which had ceased their operations many months before. That way, a significant share of collections went into the pockets of rightsholders that may have been SUISA members, but only authors ‘on paper’ – at the detriment of those artists – including Swiss artists – whose works were actually played.

The hit boxes cannot be installed all over Switzerland due to financial considerations, and it is possible, that certain performances cannot be captured. Thanks to today’s system, there is more information available than there was with the manual reports of DJ programmes in the past. The remuneration can thus be distributed in a fairer way. In addition, the previously high costs for “manual” handling of data can be reduced.

Today, where each customer can use their smartphone to recognise titles and artists of works played in a disco, it is no longer contemporary and plausible to base the distribution of copyright remuneration on paper reports. Even more so, when the collective management organisations explicitly demand the development of electronic processing systems, in particular in the context of the copyright review.

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New distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Read more
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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.

Your email address will not be published.

After a two-year test phase, hit box monitoring has been the basis for the distribution of remuneration for music on sound recordings since January 2014. Now, a first review can be made regarding this new system, both in relation to the data collected and the reactions of the members and owners of the clubs in question. Text by Nicolas Pont

Interim review on hit boxes, three years after their introduction

Verified by hit box monitoring: “Jung verdammt” by Lo &Leduc has been played more often in Swiss clubs during 2015 than Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”. (Photo: Luca Monachesi)

The aim of the revision of distribution category 12 which is affected by the hit boxes, as well the functionality of such devices have been explained in SUISAinfo 3.13 (in German, PDF, 730 KB). Just to clarify: Hit boxes are mainly used for the distribution...read more

New distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights

The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

8/12 for authors, 4/12 for publishers: SUISA will adapt its distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights to European standards again. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The majority of SUISA’s European sister societies apply the so-called “CISAC key” when it comes to originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights sector. CISAC is the international umbrella for collective management organisations (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs). The shares of the distribution key recommended by the umbrella organisation for performances and broadcasts amount to 66.67% for authors and 33.33% for publishers.

SUISA’s distribution key

SUISA’s distribution key had deviated from the internationally established CISAC standard in the past. Up to now, SUISA distribution rules provided that the shares for originally published works for performing and broadcasting rights was 65% for authors and a maximum of 35% for publishers. Regarding the production of sound and audio-visual recordings, the composers receive 60% and the publishers 40%.

In the case of works with a sub-publisher, the author has an entitlement as per the distribution rules to receive 50%, and the publisher and sub-publisher to claim the remaining 50% for performances and broadcasts. Regarding the production of sound and audio-visual recordings, the composers receive 40% and the publisher and sub-publisher share the remaining 60%. In this context, it is worth mentioning that SUISA usually adopts the contractually agreed split between the publisher and the sub-publisher in the case of sub-published works. Only in the absence of such agreed splits will SUISA apply the keys established by the distribution rules.

Alignment with the European CISAC standard

The distribution keys by SUISA will now be adapted in the case of originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights to European standards. The keys relating to the production of sound and audio-visual recordings (mechanical reproduction rights) shall remain unchanged in the distribution rules. Strictly speaking, the application of the CISAC key of 67% for authors and 33.33% for publishers is nothing new, but rather a re-introduction of a previous provision.

The key applied on a Europe-wide level is actually expressed in fractions 8/12 (author’s share) resp. 4/12 (publisher’s share). When SUISA began working with IT systems back in 1962, the aim was to avoid decimal places after the decimal point. As a consequence, SUISA changed the key, and rounded it to 65%, resp. 35%. The majority of the other European societies kept the translated fractions i.e. 66.67% and 33.33%.

Effects of the changed distribution rules

Thanks to the adaptation of the distribution keys, authors will be remunerated with the share that is deemed as standard in the European area. While the publisher share will be decreased by 1.67%, they will, together with the authors, benefit from positive effects which the changes bring about.

Apart from the harmonisation with other European societies, the (re)introduction of the CISAC key for originally published works entails further significant advantages:

  • Important increase in efficiency during work registration: Processing of SUISA works with international contributors will become simpler. Difficult conversions in the case of joint productions with international authors become redundant.
  • Processing distributions of the sister societies will be significantly simplified: The matching distribution keys will facilitate the processing of distributions by international sister societies to a great extent.

Validity of the changes to the distribution rules

Both the SUISA Board of Directors as well as the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) have agreed to this change. The new distribution keys will come into force from 01 January 2017 without any retroactivity. This means, that all works declared after 01 January 2017 will be registered with the new distribution key. In the case of works that had been registered before that date, the distribution key in place shall remain valid. These works will not be changed.

The decision of the IPI dated 28 July 2016 is published at the SUISA website.

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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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The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

8/12 for authors, 4/12 for publishers: SUISA will adapt its distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights to European standards again. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

The majority of SUISA’s European sister societies apply the so-called “CISAC key” when it comes to originally published works in the performing and broadcasting rights sector. CISAC is the international umbrella for collective management organisations (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs). The shares of the distribution key recommended by the...read more

Publishing agreements: What do I need to consider?

Publishing agreements in Switzerland are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) The respective statutory provisions on it are, however, not very detailed. In the case of music publishing agreements in particular, you cannot simply rely on the law. Besides, the contractual parties may also stipulate their own arrangements in the agreement. So what do you have to be aware of with respect to publishing agreements? Text by Nicolas Pont

Publishing agreements are concludes between all parties involved in a work: authors (composers, lyricists, arrangers) and a publisher. (Photo: Alexskopje / Shutterstock.com)

The publishing agreement is incorporated into the law (Art. 380 ff. OR). The legal provisions are, however, not mandatory, and the parties have a lot of room to manoeuvre for the negotiations prior to signing the agreement. In cases of doubt, it might help to refer to the commented version of the SUISA model agreement.

Publishers can be referred to as the “managers of a work” – as the entity or person whose duty it is to promote the work. They seek to maximise usage and exploitation, e.g. in the form of radio broadcasts, synchronisation with audiovisual works and sales of music score. In return for this promotional activity, publishers who are members of collective management organisations (CMOs) benefit from part of the royalties for the usage of the works. The publisher is thus included in the works registration as an interested party and obtains a percentage of the work remuneration.

Entering into agreements and contracting parties

SUISA’s model agreement can be used as a contractual basis and adapted as required, but usually, each publisher has its own agreement. SUISA members have the opportunity as authors or publishers to have SUISA’s legal department check their agreement prior to signature free of charge. Our legal department may correct any disadvantageous provisions and also provide details on the professionalism of the publisher.

The law assumes that the author is the individual that has created the work. This means that a group of authors cannot be considered as authors. Only an individual member of a band can be a contracting party and sign the agreement. In order for the works to be completely integrated as the subject matter of the publishing agreement, all who have contributed to the creation of the composition must therefore sign the publishing agreement.

Furthermore, attention should also be paid to the fact that arrangements of works already published are not automatically published with the same publisher. As arrangements must be protected in their own right according to the law, the publisher must acquire the rights on them in a separate agreement with the arranger.

Term of the agreement

The agreement may be in effect between 3 (minimum duration stipulated by SUISA) and up to 70 years after the death of the author (statutory term of protection for a work). It is generally in the interest of a publisher to sign an agreement which spans as many years as possible, whereas authors are interested in limiting the term covering the assignment of their rights. It is, of course, possible to enter into a three-year-agreement which – if it is not being terminated – can be extended on a rolling basis of one year. Such an option does not require any additional steps.

If you determine the term of the agreement, the investment of the publisher should be taken into consideration, e.g. in cases where music score is being published. In any case, the parties should be aware of how long they are bound contractually. Another important point is to realise how difficult it might be to dissolve an agreement prior to its end date if the parties end up having a conflict. It is absolutely vital that rightsholders inform SUISA in any case so that SUISA can adapt its documentation.

Remuneration for the publisher

The percentage for the publisher is jointly determined by the parties. There is only one mandatory provision: In accordance with SUISA’s distribution rules, the publisher may only receive a maximum share of 35% of the remuneration from performing and broadcasting rights (e.g. for concerts and radio broadcasts). Subject to this reservation, the parties are free to determine the percentage. If no percentages have been entered into the agreement by the contracting parties, those determined by the distribution rules shall apply.

Agreements often do not contain explicit percentages, but rather refer to the applicability of the distribution rules of the respective collective management organisation. In the case of agreements with foreign publishers who register their catalogues with the society in their country, this leads to the application of foreign distribution rules: For performing and broadcasting rights, a publisher in Germany therefore receives 33.33% (GEMA), and 50% in England (PRS).

The international umbrella association of the collective management organisations, CISAC, has set out a guideline for the distribution key between authors and publishers that publishers should not receive more than 33.33% for performances and broadcasts. The 230 CISAC member societies from 120 countries are free to adapt this key. Many societies, such as GEMA and SACEM already apply this recommended distribution. SUISA also wishes to adapt its rules and regulations to this CISAC guideline. The respective application for a change of the SUISA distribution rules has been submitted to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) at the beginning of 2016. The IPI approval is still pending and would not come into force before 2017.

An “admin publisher”, which merely creates a connection with a collecting society (i.e. completes work registrations, checks distribution statements and possibly submits complaints etc.) should, logically, receive a smaller percentage than a publisher who is also looking after the promotion and placement of the work and the search for a producer.

You should not forget to determine the distribution of such monies that are not being paid by the collecting societies (e.g. for synchronisation rights). These revenues are usually split 50/50 between the publisher and the author. Finally, the author usually receives a 10% share of the income arising from the sales of music score.

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Publishing agreements in Switzerland are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) The respective statutory provisions on it are, however, not very detailed. In the case of music publishing agreements in particular, you cannot simply rely on the law. Besides, the contractual parties may also stipulate their own arrangements in the agreement. So what do you have to be aware of with respect to publishing agreements? Text by Nicolas Pont

Publishing agreements are concludes between all parties involved in a work: authors (composers, lyricists, arrangers) and a publisher. (Photo: Alexskopje / Shutterstock.com)

The publishing agreement is incorporated into the law (Art. 380 ff. OR). The legal provisions are, however, not mandatory, and the parties have a lot of room to manoeuvre for the negotiations prior to signing the agreement. In cases of...read more