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How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the interior décor of a pub, just like dark furniture, wooden shields and the dartboard.

Similar to the obligation to pay makers of the furniture, the decoration or the lighting, composers, lyricists, performers, scriptwriters or producers are entitled by law to receive a remuneration for the use of their works and performances outside the private circle. The five Swiss collective management organisations Pro Litteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform are responsible for this task. SUISA collects the remuneration for the use of music, films and TV broadcasts pursuant to the Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a) on their behalves.

What does SUISA do with the collected money from background entertainment?

The first step is that the collected money is split among the five Swiss collective management organisations based on a fixed distribution key. The SUISA share for the coverage of music contents is slightly more than half of the income. Each society is then responsible in a second step to pay out these collected fees to authors and artists, publishers and producers.

In the case of SUISA, 88% of the above-mentioned fifty percent is distributed to the rightsholders. This means that of the CHF 100 that were collected, CHF 88 are paid out to creators and their publishers.

How and to whom are these revenues paid? SUISA usually knows three different possibilities of distribution: direct distribution, blanket distribution with programme material and blanket distribution without programme material (see box). Programme material consists of lists with the works which were performed or broadcast.

In the case of the CT 3a, the money is nearly exclusively paid by way of a lump-sum without programme material. Submitting and processing the work lists in this category would be linked to an enormous effort for customers and SUISA alike, and they would be in no proportion to the actual benefit. Instead, SUISA uses the programme material already available from various sources to allocate the collections made on the basis of the CT 3a. SUISA ensures during this process that lists and/or usages are considered for this allocation, enabling that the remuneration is distributed as fairly as possible.

A distribution which is as fair as possible – even without a list of the performed works

Based on empirical data there are cases where it is assumed that a major part of the companies, shops, restaurants etc. uses works which are also broadcast on the radio, resp. TV. Accordingly, a major part of the income from CT 3a is allocated on the basis of the programme material for the use of music, TV broadcasts and films from radio and TV transmissions. SUISA also takes into account that not just pop, rock or urban is played but also other genres such as traditional or folk music and even church music. A part of the collections is thus also distributed on the basis of programme lists for church performances, brass music or yodelling clubs.

In order to distribute the money to the creators and artists, it is thus allocated to other similar distribution categories for performing and broadcasting rights (see distribution rules, Art. 5.5.2).
Should a member receive a payment from one of these distribution categories, it also receives a share from the income for background music entertainment from CT 3a.

In some exceptional cases in background entertainment, there is a direct accounting process for the distribution of collected fees. This happens, for example, for music which is used in a museum for an exhibition, or music which is used in a company’s phone loop for a longer period. In such cases, the music in question is usually commissioned.

SUISA distributes four times a year. In 2018, more than CHF 132m were paid out to composers, lyricists and publishers of music.

Types of distribution and distribution categories

SUISA distributes the collections from authors’ rights in three different ways:

  1. In a direct accounting scenario, copyright remuneration can be allocated directly across the available lists of works that have been performed. This is also possible for concerts, for example: If songs of five co-authors are performed during a concert, these five rightsholders receive the fees collected for this concert.
  2. In the case of a blanket distribution with programme material, copyright remuneration is calculated on the basis of a point value. For SRG broadcasts, for example, SUISA receives a lump-sum payment on the one hand and detailed broadcast reports on the other hand. The broadcast reports include details on how many seconds of music have been transmitted in total, plus the exact duration of each work. A point value per second is determined based on these details and the remuneration is paid to authors and publishers of the played works.
  3. A blanket distribution without programme material takes place when it comes to collections based on tariffs where there is no information provided on the works that have actually been used, or if that information cannot be established. The distribution of such income is made on the basis of available programme material from several sources. The exact allocation of the money is specified in the SUISA distribution rules in detail.

The collected revenue is distributed on the basis of distribution categories. The latter correspond to various usages, e.g. music in concerts, on radio and TV channels of the SRG, or private broadcasters, in churches etc.

Details can be found in the SUISA distribution rules.

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Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenuesChanges in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues The CHF 20 limit for the distribution of revenues under Common Tariffs K (concerts) and Z (circuses) has been eliminated. As a result, amounts previously allocated to distribution category 4C will be otherwise regulated. The changes concern points 4.1, 4.2, 5.4 and 5.5 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules. Read more
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More than 100,000 companies in Switzerland use music, TV and films for background entertainment purposes. For these usages, the companies pay a fee based on Common Tariff 3a to authors, publishers, performers or producers. How and to whom are these revenues paid? Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

How SUISA distributes fees collected for background entertainment

Considered by many to be part of the pub atmosphere just like teak furniture or dartboards: premier league games on the telly. Producers of the broadcasts have the right to receive a remuneration for usages outside domestic and private circles or home life. (Photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com)

Just like lighting or decoration, suitable background music is an important contributing factor to make customers and guests feel good in a shop, hairdresser or restaurant. Plus, live transmissions of a football or cricket match are equally part of the...read more

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

The CHF 20 limit for the distribution of revenues under Common Tariffs K (concerts) and Z (circuses) has been eliminated. As a result, amounts previously allocated to distribution category 4C will be otherwise regulated. The changes concern points 4.1, 4.2, 5.4 and 5.5 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

SUISA has optimised its distribution rules for revenues from live performances. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Revenues from CT K and CT Z had hitherto been allocated to two different distribution categories. Amounts over CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4B “Concerts and other performances with revenues of more than CHF 20 per work”. Distribution in this category was made on a per file basis. On the other hand, performance revenues of less than CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4C “Concerts with revenues of up to CHF 20 per work” and were then distributed on a flat-rate basis.

As is in the nature of flat-rate solutions which at best only approximate real circumstances, this practice did not always produce satisfactory results. In the case of DC 4C, a flat point value, calculated based on the revenues and programme information of all the events assigned to this distribution category, was applied.

Distribution based on actual usage is more advantageous

The flat point value actually applied could be higher or lower than the actual point value of an individual event. Therefore, it could happen that entitled parties would receive a higher amount than that actually paid by the organiser in respect of an event for which only the minimum fee under Tariff K had been paid. Naturally, the opposite was equally possible. The changes made in the Distribution Rules now eliminate the potential disadvantage or advantage for the beneficiaries of DC 4C.

In practice, these changes remove the CHF 20 limit and eliminate distribution category 4C altogether. Henceforth, all revenues from CT K and CT Z – regardless of amount or point value per work – will be allocated to and distributed in DC 4B. The rules for DC 4B itself remain unchanged; only the name of this category has been changed. It is now called: “Concerts & concert-like performances.”

The revenues previously allocated to DC 4C will henceforth flow into DC 4B as well. These consist in the allocations from revenues without programme information from Tariffs Hb, L, Ma, 3a, 7, 8, K and Z, as well as Tariff B revenues from orchestra consortia (with programme information).

Overview of changes in Distribution Rules

Here, in a nutshell, are the advantages of the changes in the Distribution Rules:

  • Even smaller amounts will be equitably distributed per file when programme information is available. This corresponds to a per-work distribution where the proceeds from an event will be distributed directly to the entitled parties.
  • Hitherto, only the entitled parties under DC 4C had the benefit of the above-listed allocations. Since both distribution categories (4B and 4C) relate to concert repertoires, there is no objective reason not to take into account DC 4B works in the distribution of allocations. Thanks to these changes, this will now be the case.
  • By introducing per-file distribution for all performances subject to Tariffs K and Z, settlement statements will be more transparent. Members will now be able to clearly see the make-up of their revenues from live performances under this Tariff.

The changes in the Distribution Rules will first be implemented in the September 2019 distribution.

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The CHF 20 limit for the distribution of revenues under Common Tariffs K (concerts) and Z (circuses) has been eliminated. As a result, amounts previously allocated to distribution category 4C will be otherwise regulated. The changes concern points 4.1, 4.2, 5.4 and 5.5 of SUISA’s Distribution Rules. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes in distribution for Common Tariff K and Z revenues

SUISA has optimised its distribution rules for revenues from live performances. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Revenues from CT K and CT Z had hitherto been allocated to two different distribution categories. Amounts over CHF 20 per work were allocated to DC 4B “Concerts and other performances with revenues of more than CHF 20 per work”. Distribution in this category was made on a per file basis. On the other hand, performance revenues of less than CHF 20 per work were allocated to...read more

Common Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus video

With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. In the meantime, more than 58,000 invoices have left the building – time to take a first provisional look back. Text by Martin Korrodi; Video by Sibylle Roth

On 15 February 2019, SUISA dispatched the first 1,000 CT 3a invoices for usage period 2019 to customers such as selling businesses, shopping malls, catering outlets or guesthouse landlords. Prior to the first dispatch, the migrated Billag data was analysed and manually cleaned up in order to ensure that the invoices were going to be correctly generated. The dispatch scope was intentionally kept small so that any technical or organisational problems could be detected and resolved quickly.

With increasing experience, the dispatch volume could be increased step by step – this way, after five months (February to June), more than half of the 3a customers have already received an invoice. Until mid-June, about 58,000 invoices were sent out with a total invoiced of nearly CHF 17 million. From April onwards, and in addition to the invoices, the first reminders had to be dispatched, from May the second reminders so that up to 20,000 mailings per month left the building.

CT 3a customer service in numbers

In line with the big number of invoices and reminders, the customer service must process a lot of feedback and queries. More than 2,000 phone conversations with customers were held in May alone, and about 600 electronic messages (contact forms and e-mails) were processed. Add to that about 160 mailings that reach us per month via traditional post.

What’s great is that many of our customers visit our website www.suisa.ch/3a and use the online portal for their queries and issues. Since the beginning of the year, 504 new customers registered online and obtained a CT3a licence, and 1,419 customers asked questions regarding their invoices via the online portal. The tariff allows a 5% discount to those customers who use the online portal for processing their CT 3a business with SUISA.

Under the leadership of Nevio Tebaldi, a team of 16 people is looking after the 3a customers; they share 12 full-time positions (1,200 in job percent). During the development phase, three additional people who support the team and take over duties in the field of data cleanup are available temporarily.

Frequently asked questions

The most frequently asked questions by the customers affect the new responsibility for the invoicing process from 2019. The systems change in terms of the radio and TV reception fees and the closure of the Billag AG seem to have created confusion so that customers do not always understand why they receive an invoice from SUISA and what the purpose of the owed fee is.

The confusion of the copyright fee with the radio and TV reception fees is probably due to the fact that Billag had dispatched both invoices until the end of 2018 – one of them on behalf of the Federal Office of Communication (Bakom) and the other one on behalf of SUISA. Within the commercial field, this co-operation made absolute sense since businesses which run a radio or TV set in their business location do not just have to pay the fee to the Bakom but – unlike private persons – require an additional licence for copyright pursuant to CT 3a.

From 2019, the starting point for radio and TV reception fees has changed fundamentally: A general fee is replacing the previously device-based reception fee. This general fee will be levied nationwide to all households and businesses. The obligation to pay the fee as well as the amount of the levy is, additionally, depending on the turnover of businesses: Businesses with a turnover of less than CHF 500,000 are exempt of the fee – businesses with higher turnovers are automatically invoiced by the Federal Tax Administration Office in a six-tier tariff category system.

With regards to the copyright fees based on CT 3a, there are, however, no major changes: The tariff continues to depend on the actual usage scope and is thus based on the area music is piped to. There is no turnover threshold – even businesses with less than CHF 500,000 have to pay a fee for copyright. The only “change” affects the sender of the invoices which is no longer Billag but SUISA.

The “successor” of Billag, Serafe AG plays no role for business customers since it exclusively invoices private households with the radio and TV reception fees on behalf of Bakom and has therefore nothing to do with businesses.

New contacts for businesses from 2019. (Graphics: Sibylle Roth)

 

Usage scope covered by CT 3a
The following usages are relevant for CT 3a: all exploitations in venues outside domestic and private circle or home life, such as in selling businesses, shopping malls, restaurants, lounges, office spaces, work spaces, storage spaces, company vehicles (car radio), ski lift stations, meeting rooms, seminar rooms, guest rooms (these are defined as guest and patient rooms as well as holiday homes), museums, exhibitions etc.
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With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. In the meantime, more than 58,000 invoices have left the building – time to take a first provisional look back. Text by Martin Korrodi; Video by Sibylle Roth

On 15 February 2019, SUISA dispatched the first 1,000 CT 3a invoices for usage period 2019 to customers such as selling businesses, shopping malls, catering outlets or guesthouse landlords. Prior to the first dispatch, the migrated...read more

Invoicing licence fees for background music and TV reception in businesses as of 2019

Businesses that play background music on their premises or show broadcasts on screens are required to pay licence fees in accordance with Common Tariff 3a. As of 2019, SUISA will once again manage all customers under this Tariff directly. Text by Martin Korrodi

Invoicing licence fees for background music and TV reception in businesses as of 2019

Under copyright law, playing background music in a shopping centre like in the above example qualifies as a use outside the private sphere. That is why businesses need a licence, which they can obtain from SUISA in accordance with Common Tariff 3a. (Photo: Unsplash, Victor Xok)

Pursuant to the Federal Copyright Act (Article 10(2)(f)), the reception of broadcasts in businesses is a use outside the private sphere and is therefore subject to a licence. As a result, in addition to paying Billag reception fees – and conversely to private households – businesses which play radio or TV sets on their premises need to licence the authors’ rights under Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a). These licences are granted by SUISA.

Hitherto, Billag AG would invoice the licence fees under CT 3a for SUISA’s account. Since Billag was also responsible for invoicing radio and TV reception fees, the cooperation generated advantageous synergies. Both invoices could be issued to customers from a single source, saving time and effort on all sides.

Meanwhile, owing to a number of developments, this cooperation cannot be continued after the end of this year: thus in 2015, the Federal Act on Radio and Television was revised and the device-based reception fee was replaced by a general levy. This levy is collected from all households – regardless whether or not they actually possess a reception device.

Uses outside the private sphere are subject to licence fees

Under the new system, only businesses with turnover in excess of CHF 500,000 have to pay the licence fee. The State estimates that about 75% of Swiss businesses will not be required to pay the licence fee even if they receive broadcasts on their premises.

The minimum turnover limit does not, however, apply to authors’ rights. All uses of works outside the private sphere are relevant in terms of copyright law. In public areas like shops and restaurants, for example, background music – whether piped in from the radio, internet or a sound recording – is subject to a fee in accordance with CT 3a. And the showing of broadcasts or videoclips, from Youtube for example, also requires a licence from SUISA. Accordingly, many small businesses that do not pay radio and TV fees will still have to pay fees under CT 3a.

In addition to the change in the radio and TV remuneration system, in March 2017 the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) decided not to renew Billag’s collection agency mandate. Henceforth, household radio and TV fees will be collected by Serafe AG. For businesses, the fees will be collected by the Federal tax authorities in the framework of the VAT collection procedure. As a result, Billag has lost its main business activity and will wind up operations at the end of 2018. This is another reason why SUISA is obliged to reorganise its CT 3a-invoicing system as of the coming year.

SUISA to manage CT 3a for businesses as of 2019

After considering a number of options, it was decided in autumn 2016 that SUISA would once again manage CT 3a for businesses starting in January 2019. SUISA already issues invoices to about 2000 companies which do not have radio and TV reception but play background music from other sources (CDs, DVDs, etc.).

As of 2019, Billag’s 106,000 business customers will be taken over by SUISA; this six-fold increase in SUISA’s active customer count – realised in a single stroke – will trigger huge growth in processing volumes. Therefore task-oriented processes and largely automated IT infrastructure solutions will be essential to ensure the smooth and proper functioning of customer relations in the CT 3a area.

The necessary steps in this regard were initiated in the current year: a project team working in close cooperation with Billag is preparing the take-over of the customer portfolio at the technical and organisational levels. A customer centre is being established with the equivalent of 12 full-time positions (17 persons overall) to provide support and guidance, in writing or by phone, to CT 3a customers.

Multilingual CT 3a customer centre

To ensure as little change as possible for customers, the customer centre will take over Billag’s existing hotline number (0844 234 234). Moreover, an online portal will be set up to secure access to all relevant services. The customer centre will cater to all users, nationwide, in four languages (English, German, French, Italian).

The new team will also be responsible for market coverage. Since there are very few spontaneous declarations from users of background music, potential customers will be contacted and questioned about their practices as regards background entertainment. SUISA plans to conduct four direct mailing campaigns per year, each designed to reach about 10,000 businesses across all economic sectors.

The customer centre team started work on 1 November 2018. By the end of the year, the team will have received appropriate training, and systems and processes will be in place and fully tested. Officially, the customer centre is to open in the new year; it will be at the disposal of 3a customers as of 7 January 2019.

Complaints procedure
The tariff for background music and TV reception, CT 3a, was negotiated with the representative user associations (Gastrosuisse, Hotelleriesuisse, the umbrella association for rights’ users DUN, the Swiss Retail Federation, inter alia) in 2015 and 2016. It proved impossible to reach a consensus, and the proposed tariff was submitted to the Federal Arbitration Commission for Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights (ESchK). The draft tariff submitted by the Swiss collecting societies proposed an average increase of 14% in the fees for Billag customers. In November 2016, the Federal Arbitration Commission decided in favour of the collecting societies and approved the proposed tariff. However, several user associations appealed the decision to the Federal Administrative Court; proceedings are still pending. The appeal does not have suspensive effect and SUISA can start collecting fees based on the new CT3a in 2019. However, the distribution of the proceeds to the entitled parties must be stayed until a definitive ruling on the tariff is handed down.
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  1. Konrad Hugentobler says:

    Typisches juristisches Bla Bla. Definiert zuerst gefälligst mal, was genau Gebührenpflichtig ist und was nicht. Beispielsweise wird eine Firma ja wohl kaum Suisa bezahlen müssen, wenn ihre Mitarbeiter auf privaten Geräten Musik mit Kopfhörer hören. Was ist genau Berieselung? Ist es nun doch (noch) von Geräten abhängig? Muss eine Firma Suisa bezahlen, wenn Mitarbeiter auf ihrem Arbeitscomputer YouTube Videos schauen? Das wäre ja an Absurdität nicht zu übertreffen.

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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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Businesses that play background music on their premises or show broadcasts on screens are required to pay licence fees in accordance with Common Tariff 3a. As of 2019, SUISA will once again manage all customers under this Tariff directly. Text by Martin Korrodi

Invoicing licence fees for background music and TV reception in businesses as of 2019

Under copyright law, playing background music in a shopping centre like in the above example qualifies as a use outside the private sphere. That is why businesses need a licence, which they can obtain from SUISA in accordance with Common Tariff 3a. (Photo: Unsplash, Victor Xok)

Pursuant to the Federal Copyright Act (Article 10(2)(f)), the reception of broadcasts in businesses is a use outside the private sphere and is therefore subject to a licence. As a result, in addition to paying Billag reception fees – and conversely to private households...read more

Can the blockchain and the bass strike a harmonious chord?

Technological developments that affect the music industry are a constant focus of SUISA’s management committees. Blockchain technology was one of the many important topics on the agenda at the board meetings in October 2018. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Can the blockchain and the bass strike a harmonious chord?

To what extent is blockchain technology in harmony with the interests of music copyright holders and publishers? (Photo: Daphne.t / Shutterstock.com)

At the autumn meetings of the SUISA Board of Directors in Lausanne, musician and researcher Steffen Holly from the German Fraunhofer Institute provided a glimpse into the world of blockchain technology. He showed how blockchain was born from of a combination of existing IT possibilities, using practical examples to illustrate the theory behind the system. He also showed how the development of the music industry and technology are closely related: new instruments give rise to new music, new demand and new technical possibilities. Who would have thought it would be possible to rent music? But streaming services are now licensed by SUISA.

The scientist also recommended assessing whether blockchain is a viable solution for every business model. In other words, critically examining whether the blockchain and the bass really can strike a harmonious chord. He provided some prominent real-world examples (Airbnb, Uber, car rental) and also made reference to musicnow.eu. Launched on the basis of the EU Collective Rights Management Directive, this project aims to use blockchain technology to facilitate collaboration between authors, artists, collecting societies and content users.

Technological developments are a permanent area of focus for SUISA’s Board of Directors and management team. In the recently adopted Strategy 2020, SUISA states its intention to step up its research and development under the heading “New technologies give rise to new forms of use”. Following Steffen Holly’s presentation, the collecting society is looking to engage in dialogue with a member of the musicnow.eu project.

Status of tariff negotiations and personnel changes

In addition to addressing the forward-looking topic of blockchain, Vincent Salvadé reported on the current status of the tariff negotiations between the collecting societies and the user organisations. In recent months, the Federal Arbitration Commission has approved the VN (audio-visual media for screening, broadcasting, online use) and CT 3c (public viewing) tariffs. Approval of CT 4i (integrated digital storage media) is pending, while GT 12 (set-top boxes, virtual video recorders) was appealed by the broadcasting companies.

Other important items on the agenda related to the HR department and the 2019 board elections. Monica Hernandez took over as Head of Human Resources/Training & Development in mid-June. Thanks to her dedication, extensive expertise and wealth of experience, she has quickly settled into her new role. Her colleagues value her professionalism, service mindset and customer-oriented approach, as well as her open, positive attitude.

General board elections will be held at the 2019 Annual General Meeting. With the exception of Bertrand Liechti and Marco Zanotta, who are both stepping down after serving for the maximum period, all directors are eligible for a further term of office. The Board of Directors has appointed a Nomination Committee to look for suitable successors. Its members reported on the status of this search for candidates.

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Technological developments that affect the music industry are a constant focus of SUISA’s management committees. Blockchain technology was one of the many important topics on the agenda at the board meetings in October 2018. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

Can the blockchain and the bass strike a harmonious chord?

To what extent is blockchain technology in harmony with the interests of music copyright holders and publishers? (Photo: Daphne.t / Shutterstock.com)

At the autumn meetings of the SUISA Board of Directors in Lausanne, musician and researcher Steffen Holly from the German Fraunhofer Institute provided a glimpse into the world of blockchain technology. He showed how blockchain was born from of a combination of existing IT possibilities, using practical examples to illustrate the theory behind the system. He also showed how the development of the music industry and technology are closely related: new...read more

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

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

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

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

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

Current status

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

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

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

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

The issue

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

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

Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Replay TV: catching up with advertising revenues

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

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

Current status

In past decisions,...read more

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Text by David Johnson, SWISSPERFORM/SIG antenne romande, guest author

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

It is recommended that SUISA authors such as Seven (pictured), who are also artists and whose performances are broadcast on radio and TV become SWISSPERFORM members. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Are you a musician and do you contribute to recordings which are used commercially or in music videos? Do you perform your own musical compositions or those of other composers on the radio or on TV? Are you a performing producer in the case of recordings? Do you perform music which is used in films, commercials or as main themes of broadcasts?

In that case, you do hold neighbouring rights and are entitled to receive a remuneration for the transmission of your performances. In order to receive such remuneration, you must be a member of SWISSPERFORM.

Neighbouring rights

The reason neighbouring rights carry their name is that they are in close ‘vicinity’ to copyright. Neighbouring rights do not protect the work itself but the performance of the work.

Artists, whether they are musicians, singers or conductors can at the same time be composers, lyricists and/or arrangers of a work that they perform. The performance of their works is therefore protected independently of the work that they perform.

In cases where artists finance their own recordings, they are also economic producers and therefore hold two different types of neighbouring rights, whose owners are remunerated by SWISSPERFORM in separate distributions for the relevant usages and which require artists to enter into a second membership type (producer). The term of protection in a recorded performance is 50 years. For the calculation of the expiry of the term of protection, the date of the first publication is authoritative, provided that the recording has been published for the first time within 50 years. Should this not be the case, the recording date is authoritative as a calculation basis for the expiry of the term of protection.

SWISSPERFORM

Switzerland is the only country in the world that has a collective management organisation which unites all rightsholders in the neighbouring rights realm under one roof: apart from artists and producers from the music and film sectors, broadcasters are also rightsholders within SWISSPERFORM. Members can pursue various activities and therefore belong to several rightsholder categories, for example musicians whose recordings were produced by themselves, played by their band and broadcast on the radio.

SWISSPERFORM’s activities are similar to those of SUISA. Musicians and producers assign their rights to the society for management purposes. SWISSPERFORM then collects the licence fees from the users based on the statutory tariffs and pays them to the entitled parties on the basis of its distribution rules which have been ratified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (supervisory authority).

SWISSPERFORM collaborates with SUISA when it comes to the collection of the licence fees. They are usually invoiced on the basis of the Common Tariffs which are set for each type of usage if exploitations affect the areas of activity of more than one collective management organisation and simultaneously affect copyright and neighbouring rights.

On behalf of SWISSPERFORM, SUISA collects, among other income streams, remuneration from private radio and TV stations as well as the levy on blank media and storage media integrated into hardware.

Ten percent of the entire tariff collections of SWISSPERFORM are allocated for the support of various autonomous legal entities with socio-cultural character. One part of these subsidies is used to co-finance the Swiss Artists’ Foundation, SIS, which supports professional musicians by providing them with means for concerts and tours in Switzerland and abroad.

Distribution of radio and TV usages

In the case of artists in the phono (audio) category, i.e. musicians, singers, conductors etc., whose performances were broadcast on the radio and on TV, a distinction is made between several distribution models.

SWISSPERFORM directly distributes the licence fees collected for the usage of commercially released sound recordings (sound recordings that are available in the marketplace) and from videoclips used on radio/TV. The income is allocated in proportion to the actual usage of the recordings. Main criteria for the distribution are the duration of the broadcast of a recording as well as the value of the roles of artists who contribute to a broadcast.

The following distributions are made on behalf of the Swiss Artists’ Cooperative Society, SIG, subject to a mandate from SWISSPERFORM. Licensing fees from the following areas are distributed:

  • the direct exploitation of performances and the usage from non-commercially released sound recordings (sound recordings that have not been commercially released or made available). This manual distribution is based on a declaration system and takes into account transmissions of concerts on the radio/TV, own productions of recordings by the radio/TV channels, musical performances in radio plays, commercials, jingles, ident tunes, theme tunes etc.;
  • the usage of music in films: This distribution is based on a declaration system at the same time as on an automatic system (depending on the broadcast on TV) and takes into account the music on sound tracks of films (score music), music from commercial sound recordings on sound tracks of films, music from non-commercial sound recordings (library music) on sound tracks of films, music from TV commercials as well as jingles etc.;
  • the usage of other audiovisual performances. This distribution is based on a declaration system and takes transmissions of concerts and artistic performances in TV shows into consideration, among others.

Please note: If you do not make a declaration to SWISSPERFORM and SIG that you have contributed to sound recordings or the transmission of your artistic performances, in order to receive your remuneration, the amounts that have not been claimed by you will expire after a limitation period of five years and will be re-distributed.

This is how you become a member of SWISSPERFORM

Membership with SWISSPERFORM is free. You can request your membership agreement online:
www.swissperform.ch/en/service/order-an-agreement.html

How do I declare my contribution to commercially available recordings?
www.swissperform.ch/uploads/media/Discography_01.xlsx
www.swissperform.ch/uploads/media/Explanations_on_the_discography_form_02.pdf

How do I declare direct performances, non-commercially released sound recordings, the usage of music in films and other audiovisual usages?
www.interpreten.ch/de/verteilung-ab-2017/info/

Further information:
www.swissperform.ch, SWISSPERFORM website
www.interpreten.ch, Schweizerische Interpretengenossenschaft SIG (Swiss Artists’ Cooperative Society) website

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Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Text by David Johnson, SWISSPERFORM/SIG antenne romande, guest author

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

It is recommended that SUISA authors such as Seven (pictured), who are also artists and whose performances are broadcast on radio and TV become SWISSPERFORM members. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Are you a musician and do you contribute to recordings which are used commercially or in music videos? Do you perform your own musical compositions or those of...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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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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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

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

The new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers, and the respective licensing terms and conditions are now combined into one single document. This makes life much easier, especially for event organisers who organise, apart from concerts, also other events such as theatre performances, cabarets etc.

The types of events are defined and explained in more detail and clarity. Apart from concerts, there are now specific event categories for concert-like performances, shows, ballet and theatre. These are intended to help customers to find their type of event and the licensing rates required for calculating the budget more quickly.

The licence fee percentages have been newly defined and reduced for many events depending on the type of event (concert, concert-like performance, show, ballet, theatre).

Apart from concerts, Common Tariff K (CT K) also governs licensing for music appearing in comedy, shows (such as “Art on Ice” or “Masters of Dirt”), sport tournaments with choreographies such as show dances or theatre performances with musical background or bedding. The calculation of the licence fees for comedy, tattoo festivals etc. in particular will become easier since the event is now relevant as a whole for the amount of the licence rate; it is no longer necessary to license individual works at different rates. This also helps making the budgeting process for event organisers easier and reduces the efforts of SUISA.

Small concerts are invoiced based on the works that were actually used (“pro rata temporis” rule) and no longer as a lump-sum. At the same time, licensing based on the costs of the music usage was re-introduced. Thus, the copyright remuneration will be calculated on the basis of the income generated or the costs incurred. The latter specifically applies to concerts which are free of charge and charity events.

Customers may also deduct the costs for external ticket sales up to a lump-sum of 10%, even for small concerts, if they submit the relevant supporting documents. SUISA thus takes into consideration that event organisers nowadays do use external ticket agencies, even for small or non-commercial events.

Performing artists of any recordings that are played by event organisers prior or after the event, or between the live performances, now also grant the event organiser reproduction rights. This entails a slight increase of the licensing rate for neighbouring rights from 0.2% to 0.25%.

Following the afore-mentioned lowering of the licensing fees, there was a review of the discount system. The volume discount is now only granted for small concerts and the contractual customer must be a member of a recognised association of event organisers in order to qualify for a discount.

What has not changed?

Services to concert goers by third parties that are included in the entrance fee, such as the use of public transport, a voucher for an inclusive drink etc. as well as ticket and value-added tax may still be deducted from the income if the relevant supporting documents are submitted.

The minimum licence fee has remained the same and still amounts to CHF 40 per event. Our contractual customers continue to receive the association discount as well as a 2% cash discount if they pay their invoice within 10 days.

Event organisers must submit set lists or lists of the performed works to SUISA. Firstly, SUISA requires such lists so that it can calculate a correct licensing amount. If SUISA does not hold the rights in all the titles, because, for example, copyright protection has already lapsed, the licensing amount is reduced on a pro rata temporis basis. The licensing rate also gets reduced on a pro rata temporis base if music is not used throughout the entire performance, as is the case quite regularly for theatre performances or comedy. Secondly, SUISA requires the lists in order to distribute the income collected to those composers and publishers whose music has been performed during the event.

Answers to frequently asked questions

Why does the new tariff create more administrative effort?
Introducing a new tariff is always an opportunity to check with long-term customers whether the modalities for the notifications of the events are still suitable for both parties. Furthermore, it is possible that with the partial changes to the licensing rates or conditions under the tariff, SUISA requires different information from customers. This mainly affects such concerts for which event organisers had received a licence based on the Common Tariff Kb between 2009 and 2016 (small concerts). Unfortunately, this is linked to an increased administrative effort for customers as well as for SUISA during a transitional period. As soon as we have clarified with individual customers in each case how we can licence and distribute correctly, this will get easier again.

What is a small concert and why is there no longer a specific tariff for it?
Between 2009 and 2016, a proper tariff applied for small concerts, Common Tariff Kb. Since the beginning of this year, small concerts are governed by the same tariff again as major concerts, theatre performances or comedy events.

In order to continue to fall under the “small concert” category, the capacity of the event venue must be no bigger than 999 people, and the income generated from ticket sales may not exceed CHF 15,000 per event. In this segment, the basic licensing rates were lowered from 10% until 2008 via 9.5% in 2016 to 9% for this year. Until 2008 the same rules have applied, and now, from 2017 onwards, apply again for the declaration of the concerts and licensing such as major concerts. This means that customers deliver the same information to us and don’t have to ask themselves each time which category the event falls under and how they should submit their documentation to SUISA.

This is especially a simplification of matters for medium-sized clubs whose capacity is just less than 1,000 people and which have generated more than CHF 15,000 in ticket sales in one instance and less in another. It’s also facilitating matters immensely for the venues that organise cabarets and concerts. Until now, you had to adhere to CT Ka for comedy, dance, acrobatics etc., and CT Kb for concerts.

Why are sponsoring monies or subsidies suddenly taken into consideration as income in the case of small concerts?
The basic idea of copyright is that authors participate in the collections which have been generated from the exploitation of their works. In the event business, the main income source are usually the ticket sales. If an event organiser’s plans for their budget only caters for the music costs such as payment for musicians to be covered by way of third party means, such third party means (sponsoring, subsidies etc.) must be taken into consideration as an income. This rule has already been established in concert tariffs as early as 20 years ago. It applies for all major concerts, comedy and theatre performances and used to apply to small concerts up until 2008. Due to the combination of the two tariffs CT Ka and CT Kb, it now applies to small concerts again since the beginning of this year.

Many non-commercial clubs and stages create annual budgets, where they make a hybrid calculation. They receive subsidies from their municipalities or cantons, but finance themselves from ticket income and turnover generated by the gastronomy on top of that. As long as they assume in their annual budgets that their ticket sales cover the artists’ performance salaries, the new tariff entails no changes for them. For long-term customers it therefore suffices to glance over their old invoices (up until 2008) to see whether a change has taken place. During the tariff negotiations, we undertook thorough calculations and research together with the associations whose results are now confirmed when implementing the tariff: for the vast majority of the event organisers of the non-commercial sector and especially clubs and stages, nothing will change.

The changes do, however, affect event organisers of corporate events or events that are free of charge, but also categories which can only pay artists’ salaries and other costs related to music by means of subsidies or sponsors’ subsidies.

What are non-musical performances at major concerts and what do they entail?
Both the old Common Tariff Ka (item 25 CT Ka) as well as the new Common Tariff K (item 14.1 CT K) include the term “non-musical performances”. We found out in everyday application of the tariff, that it wasn’t always clear to event organisers what is meant by this term. In order to answer these questions in the tariff, we have clarified this term in the new tariff text: it includes sophisticated choreographies, elaborate costumes and costume changes, video installations or light shows which go beyond the ‘must-have’. By doing so, we want to – as is required by copyright law – take performance-related activities into consideration which are not music but are still protected by copyright.

In practice, this means that the entire concept is taken into consideration for concerts of artists such as Beyoncé or bands like Archive, and the event organiser has to pay a lower licensing rate for the copyright in musical works. It also means that even in big stadiums, concerts sometimes will take place without elaborate artistic production and the event organiser will pay the usual basic licensing rate. That does not only apply to big classical concerts but can also be the case for concerts of certain singer songwriters, like Bruce Springsteen or Neil Diamond.

Why were the new provisions of the concert tariff made known so shortly before its introduction?
In June 2016, SUISA had announced that a new tariff had been negotiated with the relevant user associations such as SMPA, petzi, KTV, ATP etc. and that an agreement had been made. The result of the negotiations was submitted to the Federal Arbitration Commission for copyright and neighbouring rights (ESchK) for approval. The EschK approved the new Common Tariff K on 20 December 2016 and the tariff could thus come into force on 01 January 2017. The relevant tariff documents could not be officially published prior the approval had been given by the ESchK. SUISA had no influence on the date of the approval.

Further information:
«Concerts, comedy shows, shows, ballets, etc.» on www.suisa.ch

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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 new Joint Tariff K applies to events which have taken place since 01 January 2017. An overview of the changes to the concert tariff in force and some answers to frequently asked questions which have arisen based on the experience gathered with the new provisions in the first few months. Text by Chantal Bolzern

“Hands-on” – the new Common Tariff K

Since January 2017, a new concert tariff has been in force in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. The picture shows SUISA member Seven (in the middle) on stage at the Tonart Festival in Altdorf, where he performed with a trio in March 2017. More information on Seven is available in the brochure “Where the music is new”, 2017 edition. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

What’s new?

There is now one instead of two tariffs. That way, all information that is relevant to customers,...read more

Tariff negotiations 2016 – an overview

While companies in other sectors are at their busiest during the Christmas period, SUISA “sales” hit their peak time during spring – this is when tariff negotiations must be brought to a conclusion and the approval for the tariffs to be valid from 1st January of the following year must be obtained from the Federal Arbitration Commission for the Administration of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights. Text by Anke Link

The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (see picture), www.tonhalle-orchester.ch, is a member of orchester.ch, an association of Swiss professional orchestras with which SUISA has successfully reached a new tariff for copyright licence fees for performances by concert consortiums. (Photo: Priska Ketterer / Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich)

SUISA and many of its negotiation partners have agreed upon adding a new clause to the tariffs in the last few years, allowing an automatic extension of the relevant tariff in cases where none of the parties desire a new round of negotiations. This has now shown its benefits: None of the relevant tariffs has been terminated so that it has not been necessary to hold negotiations for these tariffs.

This has opened up additional capacity for the negotiation of new tariffs that come to an end in 2016. At the same time, SUISA has also been able to participate intensively in the negotiation process for tariffs managed by its sister organisations Suissimage and ProLitteris.

As early as in autumn 2015, SUISA had agreed a new Tariff D with orchester.ch, the association of Swiss professional orchestras, which will come into force from 01 July 2016. The tariff has been edited in terms of the wording, but the remuneration and the tariff system remain unchanged. The same applies for Common Tariff HV (hotel TV) and Common Tariff 4 (blank media levy) where an approval of the associations for the new version of the tariffs from 01 January 2017 could be swiftly reached.

Agreement on a new concert tariff from 2017

The negotiation of the new Common Tariff K (CT K) for concerts, concert-like performances, shows, ballet and theatre required more time to settle. Negotiations for this tariff had already begun in December 2013. The preceding tariffs CT Ka and CT Kb had been extended twice, in order to provide enough time for the negotiation of the new tariff.

This turned out to be a good investment as the time was used so that SUISA and its negotiation partners could agree upon a new tariff CT K which will enter into force from 01 January 2017. The new CT K will apply to all concerts and performances which have previously been covered by CT Ka and CT Kb. Individual performance categories have been formulated more clearly in the new tariff.

The tariff structure has also been changed compared to the previous tariffs. A basic criterion – the fact that organisers pay a licence fee based on a percentage of their income – still remains the same. Depending on the type and size of the event, different percentages apply. The different percentage rates take it better into account that there may be additional artistic performances during concerts which influence the character of the performance.

If such additional performances take place they have a diminishing effect on the percentage. In return, the previous discounts were deleted. Only those organisers who are members of an association for organisers may be subject to rebates if the respective association collaborates with SUISA. Overall, the new CT K provides for a fair remuneration and also contributes to an increased legal certainty for all partners.

The importance of the legal certainty can be illustrated by the seemingly never-ending process which preceded the first legally binding and valid Common Tariff 4e (Levy for private copying via smartphones). Rights holders had to wait more than five years until the remuneration due to them could finally be collected. SUISA is trying, wherever possible, to avoid such situations.

Number of tariffs reduced

Negotiations for the new Common Tariff 4i (Levy for integrated digital storage media in devices) which is going to combine the previous common tariffs 4d (MP3 player and hard disc recorders), 4e (mobile phones) and 4f (tablets). Instead of three tariffs, there will only be one, the CT 4i. This is another step towards a reduction of the number of tariffs requested by the public and the politicians.

During the negotiations for the new CT 4i, SUISA and its negotiation partners agreed on a lowering of the tariff rates per GB for smart phones and tablets and a lowering of the tariff rates per GB for hard disc recorders with a storage space of more than 2 TB. That way, the established increased storage capacity of these devices in the market has been taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, SUISA could not reach an agreement for Common Tariff 3a (background music and making available of broadcasts). This tariff procedure is unfortunately in dispute and may – see above – drag on over a longer period of time.

SUISA cooperates with others for further tariff negotiations

Apart from these “main negotiations”, SUISA also supported its sister society ProLitteris with the negotiations on a new Common Tariff 7 (“School tariff”) and other new common tariffs 8  and 9 (levy on photocopying and remuneration for digital networks). All three tariff negotiations could be concluded with agreements whereby a slight increase could be reached for CT 8 and 9.

SUISA also supported the negotiations led by Suissimage for Common Tariff 1 (cable re-transmission) and Common Tariff 12 (virtual video recorders and catch-up TV). An increase could be reached with the negotiation partners for both tariffs.

The broadcasters, however, on the side of the rights holders, have not supported this agreement for the CT 12. They deem the option provided by catch-up TV to skip the ads to be a threat to their business models and therefore wish to directly represent their own interests in the impending tariff approval procedure with the Federal Arbitration Commission.

Even though it has not been possible to reach mutually agreed deals in all negotiations, SUISA and its sister societies did manage to reach agreements in the majority of cases and therefore continue to safeguard the interests of all of its members.

Collapse article

While companies in other sectors are at their busiest during the Christmas period, SUISA “sales” hit their peak time during spring – this is when tariff negotiations must be brought to a conclusion and the approval for the tariffs to be valid from 1st January of the following year must be obtained from the Federal Arbitration Commission for the Administration of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights. Text by Anke Link

The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (see picture), www.tonhalle-orchester.ch, is a member of orchester.ch, an association of Swiss professional orchestras with which SUISA has successfully reached a new tariff for copyright licence fees for performances by concert consortiums. (Photo: Priska Ketterer / Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich)

SUISA and many of its negotiation partners have agreed upon adding a new clause to the tariffs in the last few...read more