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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