Tag Archives: Collective management organisation

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

On 22 November 2017, the Federal Council presented its Message on the revision of the Federal Copyright Act (FCA), and referred the copyright bill (FCA-B) to the two houses of Parliament. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

Revision of Swiss copyright law: work has started in the Federal Palace in Berne. (Photo: Simon Zenger / Shutterstock.com)

The bill reflects the compromise reached by the AGUR12 II working group at the beginning of March 2017. Parliament has started working on the bill, and SUISA was invited to present its point of view on 12 April 2018 at a hearing organised by the Science, Education and Culture Committee of the National Council. SUISA also had the opportunity to state its views before the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council, first in writing and then orally on 18 May 2018.

Each time, SUISA acted in association with Swisscopyright, the entity which brings together the five Swiss collective management societies in the field of copyright and neighbouring rights. SUISA started by underscoring that the main objective of Swisscopyright was to ensure fair remuneration for cultural creators, including in the digital age. For this reason, the five collective rights management societies supported the compromise achieved at AGUR12 II level and, consequently, the Federal Councilʼs proposal. However, the societies asked for changes in the provisions governing the new entitlement to remuneration for video on-demand (VoD) with a view to ensuring that the new regulations better reflect the AGUR12 II compromise and secure fair remuneration for creators.

1. General appraisal of the FCʼs bill

Swisscopyright welcomed the Federal Council’s intention to introduce an “extended collective licence” (Article 43 FCA-B). Collecting societies could thus grant blanket authorisations for certain uses, including on behalf of rightholders they do not contractually represent; this would foster cultural projects while assuring remuneration for entitled parties. The blanket authorisation would apply to uses which cannot be individually controlled by rightholders; collecting societies would act as an “insurance” (of a sort) for users. The extended collective licence is perfectly consistent with the function of a collective rights management society, which is to facilitate and simplify rights management for all stakeholders.

Generally speaking, Swisscopyright welcomes all the measures designed to improve collective rights management: according to the FCʼs proposal, users would be required to communicate their declarations to collecting societies in electronic form to facilitate automatic processing (Article 51 FCA-B); collecting societies would be authorised to exchange the data delivered by users (Article 51(1bis) FCA-B); accelerated tariff appeals procedure (Article 74(2) FCA-B); and the Federal Arbitration Commission in charge of tariffs would be permitted to hear witnesses (see draft of new Article 14(1) lit. g of the Administrative Procedure Act). These new rules are designed to increase efficiency, reduce management costs and ensure more money is available for distribution to cultural creators.

“Swisscopyright believes these new anti-piracy measures are necessary to foster legal offers ensuring fair remuneration for creators.”

Swisscopyright also supports the Federal Councilʼs proposals for new anti-piracy measures since they contribute to improving the situation. According to Article 39d FCA-B, platforms presenting significant piracy risks would be obligated to actively combat copyright infringements (stay down obligation). The possibility of processing data for criminal prosecution purposes (Article 77i FCA-B), must be included in the FCA since the Federal Supreme Court ruled that collecting information on pirates and hackers (in particular their IP addresses) is not currently admissible under the Law on Data Protection (ATF 136 II 508). Swisscopyright believes these new anti-piracy measures are necessary to foster legal offers ensuring fair remuneration for creators.

Swisscopyright accepted the proposed copyright exception for the use of works for scientific research (Article 24d FCA-B), but only in the context of the AGUR12 II compromise. The fact that – conversely to what had been proposed in the original draft in 2015 – this exception is not accompanied by a claim to remuneration is indeed problematic for rightholders in the literary field. Swisscopyright underscored that no further concessions to the scientific community would be accepted on the backs of cultural creators.

2. Right of remuneration for VoD

Online platforms making available feature films (cinema and TV) have replaced DVD rental. Whereas, under Article 13 FCA, authors and artists used to receive a share of DVD rental revenues, this is no longer the case for online availability. The revised legislation must ensure that authors and performing artists, as the primary creators of value, participate in this new economic model: Swisscopyright welcomed the introduction of a right to remuneration in Articles 13a and 35a FCA-B. The collecting societies underscored that the right to remuneration must be supplemental to the fees paid to the creators by producers (for the commissioning of works, the performances therein and the corresponding rights). The FCʼs proposal is not clear in this respect; Swisscopyright argues that the parliamentary debates must make it clear that the right to remuneration is supplemental to, and not in lieu of, such fees.

“The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms. The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.”

Moreover, the exclusion of music works from the new right to remuneration was an essential element of the AGUR 12 II compromise; regrettably, the FC has not included this exclusion in its proposal. Since the voluntary collective management model functions well in the music sector, we should come back to the solution advocated by AGUR12 II. The music and the audiovisual sector diverge significantly in this respect. The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms (alongside the aggregators who handle all other rights in the film). The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.

In the field of music, however, it is necessary to ensure that the revenues distributed by collecting societies are properly apportioned between the composer and the publisher. The composer must in any event receive an equitable share. Article 49(3) FCA already guarantees this for concerts, radio broadcasts and recordings. But this rule only applies to areas under federal regulation, and therefore not to VoD. As a result, Swisscopyright proposes rewording paragraph 5 of Article 13a FCA-B to stipulate the composerʼs right to a fair share of the voluntary collective management revenues, in line with SUISAʼs current practice.

The plenary debates in the National Council (expected in autumn) will show whether the parliamentary committees were sensitive to the argumentation put forward by Swisscopyright.

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On 22 November 2017, the Federal Council presented its Message on the revision of the Federal Copyright Act (FCA), and referred the copyright bill (FCA-B) to the two houses of Parliament. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

Revision of Swiss copyright law: work has started in the Federal Palace in Berne. (Photo: Simon Zenger / Shutterstock.com)

The bill reflects the compromise reached by the AGUR12 II working group at the beginning of March 2017. Parliament has started working on the bill, and SUISA was invited to present its point of view on 12 April 2018 at a hearing organised by the Science, Education and Culture Committee of the National Council. SUISA also had the opportunity to state its views before the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council, first in writing and then orally on...read more

2018 – a challenging year?!

Review of the Copyright Act, No-Billag-Initiative, online licensing, further development of “my account”… With such topics, SUISA continues to pursue the aim to offer its members efficient services and to create optimal framework conditions. We will face the challenge! By Irène Philipp Ziebold, Director

2018 – a challenging year?!

SUISA supports a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative: “If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators” writes Director Irène Philipp Ziebold. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

We want to continue to provide efficient services to our members in 2018 and to create optimal framework conditions for them. We have been pursuing these goals in a continuous process for quite a while. For this year we have made a clear note of these intentions and resolutions in our ‘to do’ notepads, since we are facing many challenges in 2018.

With respect to the framework conditions, for example, it is important that authors and publishers benefit better from the online usage of their works with the review of the Copyright Act, or that, in the interest of Swiss music, the reception fees made out of solidarity for public service media are not abolished. In an increasingly cross-border oriented competitive environment, it is, however, also of entrepreneurial importance to optimise the service range offered for members and customers alike.

Since December 2017, statements are made available via “my account”Since December 2017, statements are made available via “my account”
Thanks to the password-protected members’ area “my account”, our members can keep an overview of their distribution statements and distribution settlements. Many members asked us to stop the dispatch by post. We have taken this request into account and introduced the option to renounce on the postal dispatch. Read more

Something we at SUISA can determine as a Cooperative Society is whether a member can access its settlements via “my account”. Since December 2017, only those who have had access to “my account” have been receiving their distributions electronically. It is important in this context that we approach such developments in the interest of our members and never lose sight of the goal to offer high-quality efficient services. Driven by such a motivation, we have continued to improve our services for our members throughout the last few years.

Above and beyond that, we also have the duty as a collective management organisation for copyright to make social and political statements and to create optimal framework conditions as a consequence. Compared to the above mentioned “internal” processes and services, we cannot make the “right” decisions ourselves but influence matters so that the interests of our members are being taken seriously.

Copyright Act Review: Authors and publishers must benefit more from the online exploitation of their worksCopyright Act Review: Authors and publishers must benefit more from the online exploitation of their works
The Federal Council has adopted a dispatch on the new Copyright Act. SUISA is in principle content with the current version of the law. The solutions achieved in the working group for the Copyright Act (AGUR12 II) were implemented. In order for authors, performers, publishers and producers to benefit better from the digitisation, it is necessary to adopt important additions. Read more

We thus engage ourselves to ensure that the creatives, our members as the content suppliers for online platforms do not come out of this empty-handed and that they can expect a modern Copyright Act.

We therefore also support a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative. For many of our members, the public service idea, especially the opportunity to disseminate music and culture, is essential. In this case, the broadcasters of SRG SSR as well as the 35 state-licensed TV and radio stations play a fundamental role. If the reception fees made by Swiss households out of solidarity for their public service media would be abolished, then important platforms for our members for the dissemination of their works would fall away.

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoireSubsidised 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. Read more

SUISA therefore supports the activities of creators and artists and their associations such as Sonart – music creatives Switzerland, Suisseculture or the Swiss Music Council against No-Billag. If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators. And that’s why we take on the challenges 2018 is going to throw at us!

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SUISA’s financial year 2018: an outlookSUISA’s financial year 2018: an outlook In the Committee and Board meetings towards the end of the year, framework conditions for the following financial year are set. As such, the meetings of the SUISA Board in December 2017 continued to be characterised by budgets, cost rates, staffing plans, roadmaps, politics and quite a bit more. Read more
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Review of the Copyright Act, No-Billag-Initiative, online licensing, further development of “my account”… With such topics, SUISA continues to pursue the aim to offer its members efficient services and to create optimal framework conditions. We will face the challenge! By Irène Philipp Ziebold, Director

2018 – a challenging year?!

SUISA supports a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative: “If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators” writes Director Irène Philipp Ziebold. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

We want to continue to provide efficient services to our members in 2018 and to create optimal framework conditions for them. We have been pursuing these goals in a continuous process for quite a while. For this year we have made a clear note of these intentions and resolutions in our ‘to do’...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

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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

Blockchain – an ending or future for collective management organisations?

Dear members, everyone in the music industry is talking about “Blockchain” at the moment. But it’s not easy to find anyone who can explain in simple terms what it’s all about … By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Blockchain - an ending or future for collective management organisations?

British singer songwriter Imogen Heap is said to be the pioneer in the practical application of Blockchain technology for music distribution: Since October 2015, her single “Tiny Human” can be purchased and licensed online via the platform Ujomusic. The payment of the parties involved is based on pre-defined distribution rules via crypto currency. (Photo: Screenshot ujomusic.com)

Blockchain is a technology, a database, a register. It enables the secure exchange of information in a network which is based on the contribution of qualified participants (miners) who check the validity of the transaction by means of the processing power of their computers. All transactions are grouped into blocks which are linked with one another and each participant can check whether the validation operation is correct. This is also how Bitcoin works.

You haven’t quite grasped all of the above? Me neither. It appears, however, that this technology which is based on “smart contracts” gets away without intermediaries: The composer could therefore be paid for concert tickets or music streaming directly. There is even word in the street that this could be the end of collective management organisations.

“Collective management of rights is more than just pure technology. It is based on an important value: a joint defence of creative work.”

Same old story: Since online music emerged about 20 years ago, people predicted that the internet would free authors and help them to become independent of intermediaries. Well, collective management organisations are still here and they constitute an indispensable counterweight to internet giants.

Collective management of rights is, after all, more than just pure technology. It is based on an important value: a joint defence of creative work. Authors will always need an organisation which supports them, which negotiates contracts for them (including smart contracts) and campaign for fair transaction conditions (even if they have been certified by the Blockchain).

But hold on a minute: This statement does not allow us to rest on our laurels. It’s the duty of collective management organisations to be interested in the Blockchain, to understand it and to try and use it for the utmost advantage of authors and publishers.

“Collective management organisations hold essential information which ensures that the remuneration is transferred to the right persons.”

SUISA collaborates with its sister societies to achieve this aim – in Switzerland and abroad. This technology could, after all, be instrumental in avoiding conflicts among rights holders with respect to a work or regarding their due remuneration.

Collective management organisations hold essential information which ensures that the remuneration is transferred to the right persons, and they also possess powerful IT instruments. So how would it be possible that they’re skipped in the transaction validation process?

One thing is for sure: You must not leave the technology companies alone to deal with these questions. Otherwise the Blockchain would become a blocking chain – at the detriment of creative work!

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To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 yearsTo be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. Read more
Mint Digital Services: FAQsMint Digital Services: FAQs SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs. Read more
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Dear members, everyone in the music industry is talking about “Blockchain” at the moment. But it’s not easy to find anyone who can explain in simple terms what it’s all about … By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Blockchain - an ending or future for collective management organisations?

British singer songwriter Imogen Heap is said to be the pioneer in the practical application of Blockchain technology for music distribution: Since October 2015, her single “Tiny Human” can be purchased and licensed online via the platform Ujomusic. The payment of the parties involved is based on pre-defined distribution rules via crypto currency. (Photo: Screenshot ujomusic.com)

Blockchain is a technology, a database, a register. It enables the secure exchange of information in a network which is based on the contribution of qualified participants (miners) who check the validity of the transaction by means of the processing...read more

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

Initiated by Ticino-based Board member Zeno Gabaglio, the Board of Directors of SUISA held its autumn meeting in Lugano this year. The agenda items for the meetings on 3 and 4 October 2017 were quite exhaustive. A selection of the topics under discussion are included in this report from the Board by Dora Zeller.

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

The current Board of SUISA in a photoshoot dating back to spring 2017. (Photo: Marc Latzel)

An important agenda point was the ratification of the business strategy. Management is looking ahead into the future with this strategy, defining which objectives it wishes to reach in a specified period of time. SUISA’s strategy usually covers a four-year period, currently 2016-2020. Due to the business events and plans it is subject to review several times a year. It is subdivided in four main areas:

  • Cost & growth (cultivate customer relations, maximise members’ incomes, support and challenge staff members)
  • Trust (members are ‘shareholders’)
  • Develop copyright
  • Align the business with new demands (online and offline)

For each of the main areas, facts are recorded; subsequently, the relevant measures are listed in terms of planning how to reach the strategic goals. For example, in the case of “members are our shareholders”, this means: Rethink and diversify services, standardise documentation and works registration, cultivate transparency and communication, guarantee domestic and international administration of members’ rights and assure quality via automation and process optimisation.

Increased competition in the licensing business requires measures

When it comes to the main area “align the business with new demands”, offline business was added as a new area. In the course of the last few years, there is now competition for music licences and there are new providers in the marketplace, too. These providers are no cooperative societies and do not belong to the authors as is the case for the majority of collective management organisations in Europe. They are profit-making private companies.

There are new developments in the “direct licensing” area for major concerts as well as for the collection of background music (piped music). The task at hand is to tackle the new licensing offers, to create SUISA’s own offers (tariffs) in a competitive manner, to search collaboration and to promote the legal framework conditions.

On the basis of the agreed strategy, management is now going to work on a roadmap. The latter will serve the purpose of splitting the measures into small, specific steps to which deadlines and responsibilities will be allocated.

Distribution: 8,126 members received CHF 11,093,520

SUISA distributes the majority of its tariffs on a quarterly basis. In September, collections for performances (Tariffs D, K; 1st quarter 2017), broadcasts SRG (Tariff A; 1st quarter 2017), “advertising windows” (2015) and reproduction (Tariffs PA, PI, PN, VI, 1st quarter 2017) were included in the distribution.

The remuneration was paid out to SUISA members (CHF 5,729,852.00) and to sister societies (CHF 5,363,669.00). Approx. CHF 1,229,425 were held back due to a lack of details, missing documentation etc. The reserved monies will be paid out in adjustment runs as soon as the necessary data for a correct distribution has been completed.

Collaboration between ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform

In 1993, the five Swiss collective management organisations signed the first written collaboration agreement. This was triggered by the expansion of copyright towards neighbouring rights back in the day. Before that, the societies had entertained informal exchanges and coordinated joint tariff negotiations.

In the coordination committee (KOAU) of the societies, the agreement was recently reviewed. The intention was to reflect the current situation and to simplify the collaboration in complex areas. New provisions include the process of passing resolutions as well as collection principles relating to collections on behalf of other societies. The SUISA Board has approved the revised collaboration agreement.

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Initiated by Ticino-based Board member Zeno Gabaglio, the Board of Directors of SUISA held its autumn meeting in Lugano this year. The agenda items for the meetings on 3 and 4 October 2017 were quite exhaustive. A selection of the topics under discussion are included in this report from the Board by Dora Zeller.

SUISA Board looks ahead into the future

The current Board of SUISA in a photoshoot dating back to spring 2017. (Photo: Marc Latzel)

An important agenda point was the ratification of the business strategy. Management is looking ahead into the future with this strategy, defining which objectives it wishes to reach in a specified period of time. SUISA’s strategy usually covers a four-year period, currently 2016-2020. Due to the business events and plans it is subject to review several times a year. It is subdivided in...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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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

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs: By Fabian Niggemeier, Martin Korrodi, Sebastian Spring and Erika Weibel

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

Through Mint Digital Services, SUISA is relying on its high-performance, state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to develop new business. (Graphics: Hej – Büro für Strategie und Gestaltung in Kultur und Wirtschaft, Zurich)

What is Mint Digital Services?
Mint Digital Services is a joint venture established by SUISA and SESAC, a US music rights organisation. Mint Digital Services offers administration services for multi-territorial online music licensing. Essentially, its services involve processing usage reports for online platforms, identifying represented repertoires, and invoicing.

The purpose of Mint Digital Services is on the one hand to streamline online licensing of SESAC and SUISA’s own repertoires. On the other, the joint venture intends to offer its services to large music publishers and, in due course, to other collective management organisations.

What were the reasons underlying SESAC and SUISA’s decision to establish Mint Digital Services?
There were three main reasons:

  1. Through Mint Digital Services, SUISA can turn to account its high-performance IT infrastructure for the development of new business areas.
  2. The joint venture will enable SUISA to fully exploit the capacity of its existing IT infrastructure. So far, SUISA’s extensive investment in its online licensing and distribution activities has only served its own repertoire. With little additional cost, Mint Digital Services can take on the invoicing and administration of SESAC’s repertoire and those of other publishers – at a later date perhaps even for other collective management organisations.
  3. SUISA is equipping itself for the future. In coming years, collective management organisations will see their monopolies challenged. The rule that only one society should be responsible for licensing the world repertoire in its own country is gradually eroding. The trend towards direct licensing – in other words, multi-territorial licensing of (solely) own repertoire – is progressing even outside the online sector.

Should members apply to Mint for online uses of their works?
No. Nothing will change for SUISA members. SUISA remains the contact for members and will continue to issue their settlement statements. Mint Digital Services simply provides services to SUISA.

Developing a new company costs money. Will members now receive lower settlements owing to higher cost-coverage deductions by SUISA?
No. The greater part of the investment was already made in recent years since SUISA has regularly upgraded its IT – regardless of the joint venture. The cost of developing the new company is therefore relatively low, and the business plan shows that the investment can be fully depreciated in a few years.

Can members expect to receive more money, more quickly for uses in the USA thanks to the partnership with SESAC?
The partnership with SESAC will have no effect on settlement flows from the USA. The joint venture only concerns online uses outside the USA. SUISA will continue to use its best efforts to improve payments from the USA and other countries. However, SUISA has only limited influence on the practice of the foreign sister societies.

Warner is a customer of Mint Digital Services. Does that mean that SUISA will henceforth focus on the majors to the detriment of the needs of its members?
No. Warner is Mint’s customer – not SUISA’s. Moreover, SUISA strives to be as customer-oriented as possible, regardless whether it is dealing with a major, an independent or an author.

Will Mint Digital Services be responsible for licensing the online repertoire?
No. The joint venture will only provide administration and invoicing services. SESAC and SUISA will establish two separate companies in the coming weeks to handle the licensing of their repertoires. Mint SESAC Licensing, a subsidiary of SESAC, and Mint SUISA Licensing, a subsidiary of SUISA. The two companies will be responsible for the separate online licensing of their respective rights, and for the performing rights of most Anglo-American companies.

Can SUISA now negotiate better terms and conditions with online platforms?
We may be able to negotiate better contracts with certain online platforms. But it is up to the platforms themselves to decide whether they want to negotiate with the SUISA and SESAC licensing entities individually or jointly. If they decide in favour of joint negotiations, Mint SUISA Licensing may be able to profit from the larger SESAC repertoire in order to obtain better terms and conditions.

SUISA regularly renegotiates its contracts with online platforms with a view to securing the best possible terms and conditions for authors and publishers; Mint SUISA Licensing will do the same.

Press release: “SUISA and SESAC Launch Mint Digital Services and Join Forces with Warner/Chappell Music as its First Client”
For more information about Mint visit the website of the joint venture: www.mintservices.com

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SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs: By Fabian Niggemeier, Martin Korrodi, Sebastian Spring and Erika Weibel

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

Through Mint Digital Services, SUISA is relying on its high-performance, state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to develop new business. (Graphics: Hej – Büro für Strategie und Gestaltung in Kultur und Wirtschaft, Zurich)

What is Mint Digital Services?
Mint Digital Services is a joint venture established by SUISA and SESAC, a US music rights organisation. Mint Digital Services offers administration services for multi-territorial online music...read more

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

In a commentary for IQ magazine, the publication of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Chantal Bolzern, Head of the Performing Rights Department at SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between collective management organisations and promoters.

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

Chantal Bolzern used to organise concerts herself in the past; she also completed a cultural management training course. In 2004, she started to work for SUISA in the legal department. Since 2010, she has been Head of the Performing Rights Department. (Photo: Sebastian Vollmert)

The Swiss apparently love concerts and festivals. Every year new festivals are founded and are taking place even in remote areas in the mountains. Some disappear again after a short time, others can look back on a long tradition of 40 years or more. There is also a wide range of alternative music clubs who attract a large crowd every week.

In 2015, SUISA licensed more than 20,000 concerts and festivals where over 360,000 different songs were performed. The tariff for concerts generated royalties of CHF 20.3m in 2015 which is nearly 50% of all revenue from performing rights. Considering that Switzerland only has a population of 8m, these figures are rather impressive.

SUISA serves as hub between songwriters and concert promoters

In order to make all this possible you need a great song as a basis, you need performers who translate the song into an inspiring live performance on stage. And last but not least you need the promoter to organize the event, make it run smoothly and make the crowd happy.

SUISA serves as a hub in this business. As a co-operative society we are owned by our members and therefore our aim is to help songwriters and publishers to participate in the income others generate with their songs. On the other hand, we want promoters to have easy access to the rights they need to create their event and to generate their revenue.

For two years, SUISA negotiated a new concert and festival tariff with all the relevant trade organisations in order to simplify the calculations for the promoters. The tariff sets  a license rate for concerts or festivals between 7% and 10% of ticketing revenue and a discount for the membership in a trade organization. Our tariff is also a one stop shop for the neighbouring rights which facilitates especially the lives of festival promoters.

Respect helps conquering new challenges in the live business ecosystem

Every 3 months we distribute royalties with detailed statements so that songwriters and publishers can verify where their money is coming from. We have full transparency in the revenue stream. All licensing and distribution work is done at a low administration cost of 12%.

Live business is an ecosystem where all parties involved need each other in order to keep things going. When all of them do a good job, they have not only a great time but they also make money. This allows composers to create new songs, which makes new performances and new concerts possible. Therefore we should all value and respect each other’s share and efforts in this business and work on solutions for new challenges together.

This contribution was written for IQ magazine where it has been published in the print edition of January 2017 on page 27 as well as online on the magazine websit. IQ magazine is an annual publication with 6 editions per year of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

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In a commentary for IQ magazine, the publication of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Chantal Bolzern, Head of the Performing Rights Department at SUISA, outlines the importance of co-operation between collective management organisations and promoters.

Concerts and Festivals in Switzerland

Chantal Bolzern used to organise concerts herself in the past; she also completed a cultural management training course. In 2004, she started to work for SUISA in the legal department. Since 2010, she has been Head of the Performing Rights Department. (Photo: Sebastian Vollmert)

The Swiss apparently love concerts and festivals. Every year new festivals are founded and are taking place even in remote areas in the mountains. Some disappear again after a short time, others can look back on a long tradition of 40 years or more. There is also a wide range of alternative music clubs...read more

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

Dear members, the Swiss Federal Council launched the consultation for a draft to review copyright in December 2015. The draft followed the recommendations by AGUR12. However, further proposals were added from the administration and as a result of parliamentary initiatives. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

SUISA continues the fight for copyright and is getting ready for the digital future at the same time: Together with the US-American collective management organisation, SESAC, it founded Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture issuing online licences. (Photo: ScandinavianStock / Shutterstock)

The draft was welcomed with keen interest, reflected by as many as 1,224 statements submitted during the consultation process. Unfortunately, they highlighted the fundamental differences in opinion. Something that had been expected: There are inherent risks when moving away from the compromise of the AGUR 12 (a working group on copyright that had been set up by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in 2012) in the context of an issue as disputed as copyright.

Copyright review: The devil is in the detail

At the end of 2016, Ms Sommaruga asked the same working group to transfer their suggestions into legislative provisions and, where necessary, submit further compromise proposals. It probably was the best that could have been done, even though another option could have been to instruct an expert committee with such editorial tasks: As we all know, the devil is in the detail …

Furthermore, a neutral expert committee could have increased the legitimacy of the proposals of AGUR12. But SUISA which is represented in the working group, will join into this second round.

Cooperation with the American organisation SESAC

Given the circumstances, the plan of a stricter Federal supervision on collective management organisations is not likely to be pursued further. This is good news. After all, the future is digital, and the rights management for online usages of music follows competition rules at the instigation of the European Union.

SUISA takes the new circumstances into account and has created a joint venture, Mint Digital Licensing, together with the American organisation SESAC. Yes, dear members, your eyes didn’t deceive you: The rightsholders in the USA are interested in SUISA’s know-how and the technology so that they can manage their rights in Europe! This implies investments, innovative spirit, additional responsibility and all the risks that a free market entails. Any interference by the government would not have been appropriate in this context.

Yet, the fight for the copyright review can be expected to get tougher. We will have to prove to the market and to consumers that collective management organisations do not just claim money from them. We must show that we create the necessary legal certainty by enabling them to acquire the rights in a simple process and at a fair price for all. The fight has not been won yet – but it’s worth being fought!

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Sustainable growth for members Cooperative societies excel by their solid economic activities. This is also true for SUISA. The cooperative society for composers, lyricists and publishers of music has slightly increased its income in 2015. SUISA pays out approx. 88% of its income to the rightsholders. That’s a total of CHF 125m. The cooperative society thus makes a substantial contribution to the financial livelihood of its members. Below is an analysis of the annual result. Read more
Right in the middle of it and in full swing to improve the service range offered to members – A glance on the service range offered by SUISA for its members shows: During the last few years, there have been innovations which brought about more efficiency and quality. Among these are more detailed settlement statements, the web portal “my account” and the digitisation of member files. These improvements signify a continu-ous process with SUISA right in the middle of it – and in full swing at it, as the follow-ing outlook shows: New: quarterly distributions. “My account” is undergoing further development. We are modernising the technology of our works database. Our member services are also subjected to a fundamental review. 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.

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Dear members, the Swiss Federal Council launched the consultation for a draft to review copyright in December 2015. The draft followed the recommendations by AGUR12. However, further proposals were added from the administration and as a result of parliamentary initiatives. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

SUISA continues the fight for copyright and is getting ready for the digital future at the same time: Together with the US-American collective management organisation, SESAC, it founded Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture issuing online licences. (Photo: ScandinavianStock / Shutterstock)

The draft was welcomed with keen interest, reflected by as many as 1,224 statements submitted during the consultation process. Unfortunately, they highlighted the fundamental differences in opinion. Something that had been expected: There are inherent risks when moving away from the compromise of the AGUR 12 (a...read more

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne Convention of 1879 was the first international Treaty on copyright. Today, nothing is left of the pioneering role Switzerland once held.

Quite the contrary: The existing Swiss copyright law was enacted after 30-year-long discussions upon the pressure by the USA on 01 July 1993. Important trade agreements with the USA would otherwise not have been possible to implement. A similar situation occurred during the partial review of the Act in 2006.

An adaptation of the copyright law to technological developments is now due. The European Union has also been holding discussions on this topic for a while. On 14 September 2016, the European Commission has tabled a proposal for a directive on copyright in the digital single market. In the EC directive, current problems such as “liability of internet service providers” were addressed at least.

Review of the Swiss Copyright Act 2011 launched

In Switzerland, the progress made by the review of the Copyright Act and the alignment of the legislative provisions to the current exploitation forms in the digital world has been rather sluggish. To recap: The trigger for the current conversations on an update of the Swiss Copyright Act had been the reply by the Federal Council in August 2011 to a Postulate by the Ständerätin (Councillor for the Council of Cantons) Géraldine Savary.

At the time, the Federal Council was of the opinion that Existing legal provisions would satisfy current options for digital usage. Authors would have to exploit the existing legal possibilities more thoroughly and equalise their lost income from internet piracy by other means: for example by giving more live concerts, in order to offset the lower income from sales of sound recordings.

This type of reply led to an outcry among the rightsholders. Known authors and musicians, specifically from the rock/pop sector, joined forces under the umbrella of the powerful association “Music Creators Switzerland”. The producer associations Audiovision Schweiz and IFPI founded the “Alliance against internet piracy”, together with the collective management organisations and other partners.

The AGUR12 Compromise

Federal Councillor Sommaruga finally gave in to the concerted demands for measures to be taken: In the summer of 2012, she initiated the working group copyright 2012. The “AGUR12” had the following task: “Show options to align copyright law with the technological developments. These include identifying and remedying of usage limitations and competitive barriers, guaranteeing a fair and adequate remuneration for the usage of content protected by copyright and the fight against piracy. On the other hand, collective management must be evaluated in terms of identifying areas for increasing efficiency and lowering costs.”

At the end of 2013, AGUR12 closed their project with recommendations which were carried by all participants. One could thus call it an “AGUR12 compromise”. The demand for implementing the recommendations remained an evident topic for the Federal Council: Subsequently, various circles submitted proposals to the parliament which were answered by the Federal Council referring to the impending legal review and thus postponed to a later date.

Preliminary draft and consultation

In December 2015, the Federal Council presented a preliminary draft for the legal review, which entered the consultation process until the end of March 2016. What was particularly bothersome with this preliminary draft was the fact that while it followed the recommendations of AGUR12, further proposals from administration itself had been added; for example, a more extensive and stricter supervision over collective management organisations. SUISA replied with an extensive statement and provided specific wordings for improving the legislative text.

More than 1,200 statements and opinions were submitted during the consultation process. Those from libraries and archives (about 400) all have the same message. They demand simple possibilities to make their archives accessible. When it comes to rights exploitation issues, they blame the collective management organisations for any difficulties that arise in this context. It is, however, the latter who enable certain usages by bundling rights together.

AGUR12 II initiated

The Federal Councillor in charge had to realise this summer that the consultation draft was coming under fire from all corners and was still far away from a solution carried by the majority. She therefore wishes to offer the affected parties to find a solution that can be carried before the Federal Council can decide on the next steps in the legislative process.

On 30 August 2016, Federal Councillor Sommaruga thus initiated the working group AGUR12 II. The working group has now got additional stakeholders, representing the interests of internet providers and experts from the Federal Office for Justice. AGUR12 II is thus tasked with working out specific legislative proposals in line with the compromises determined by AGUR12, which have been in place for more than 2 years now.

The new AGUR12II has, in the meantime, started with its activities. In the first meeting, it became apparent that the members deal with the different interests and positions in a focussed and constructive manner. As a consequence, further sub-groups were created with the aim to prepare specific legislative proposals in a smaller but representative circle. The results are expected to be ready by the end of 2016.

Legal review thrown back by 30 months

Collective management organisations are active on behalf of authors within the AGUR12 II working group. Their representatives hold the necessary legal knowledge in order to formulate legislative provisions. A modernised copyright with fair framework conditions for rightsholders is one of the core aims of the Cooperative Society for Authors and Publishers of Music: SUISA readily offers its expert knowledge and collaborates actively in the working group.

By initiating the AGUR12 II working group, the copyright legislation review in Switzerland has been set back by 30 months. Back to square 1, where AGUR12 finished with its recommendations at the end of 2013. One can’t help but get the impression that the government’s ideas on trade and agricultural policies are clearer than those on copyright. That is a real shame, even more so when Switzerland, as a veritable nation of culture, once excelled as a pioneer of the rights for the protection of authors.

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Copyright: Quo vadis? In December 2015, the Federal Council presented the draft for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act. At the same time, the consultation started, which is open until March 2016. SUISA supports the proposed measures inasmuch as they have been taken from the compromise agreement reached by the working group on copyright (AGUR12). SUISA has been contributing to said working group which had been summoned by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in 2012, consisting of affected parties. Read more
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The preliminary draft by the Swiss Federal Council for a review of the Swiss Copyright Act was not able to carry a majority during the consultation. The Federal Councillor in charge, Simonetta Sommaruga, has therefore called upon a working group again. AGUR12 II is asked to work out specific legislative proposals alongside the compromise that had been achieved by AGUR12 and been in place for more than 2 years. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright Act

Back to square 1: The working group for copyright convenes again. Specific legislative proposals for the review of the Swiss Copyright Act are expected to be tabled by the end of 2016. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the leading countries involved in the process to anchor copyright for authors at international level. The Berne...read more