Tag Archives: Online licensing

Information on live streams for SUISA members

The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Information on live streams for SUISA members

Music via video as a replacement for cancelled concerts: Jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi played his work “We Need To Change” for the series of articles “Music for Tomorrow”; you can listen to it and watch it on the SUISAblog and the social media channels SUISA Music Stories. (Photo: screen shot video Cyril Bondi)

There are numerous possibilities to transmit live streams: The choice ranges from your own website, and social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or Dailymotion, to pure live streaming platforms such as Twitch. In addition, smaller international and national platforms are currently appearing, where music creators can register for live streaming and share any income generated via the platform.

The following guide is intended to provide SUISA members with assistance in the live streaming jungle:

Information for musicians who organise live streams themselves

Do I/we need a licence from SUISA?
Be it as a band, singer-songwriter, orchestra or choir: If you organise a live stream on your own website or social media channel and only perform music that you have written yourself and/or that is in the public domain (the author has died more than 70 years ago), you do not need a licence from SUISA.

But be careful: This type of “own use” or using your own music yourself, on your own web channels, is only allowed if all songs are 100% written by the performers themselves. As soon as third parties are involved in only one of the performed works, it is no longer considered to be a pure type of “own use”. So if there are co-authors who do not participate in the performance of the live stream, or if a publisher has a stake in the song or otherwise performs protected music by others (e.g. cover versions), you need a licence from SUISA in accordance with the “Licensing Terms and Conditions Live Streams”.

An exception applies to non-commercial live streams on social media platforms: These are covered by the agreements concluded by SUISA and other rights management entities with the social media platforms and therefore do not usually need to be licensed separately. SUISA currently has agreements with Youtube and Facebook (including Instagram). SUISA is currently negotiating with Dailymotion, Vimeo and Twitch, to which the same will apply.

Non-commercial in this context means that no money is demanded for the live stream and it is not produced for a company. SUISA also considers donation campaigns whose income is entirely allocated to people in need to be non-commercial.

Livestreams from DJ sets
DJ sets contain not only compositions, but also recordings whose rights are held by the recording company or “labelˮ. Since very few DJs use exclusively self-composed and self-published music, several licenses must usually be obtained for live streams of DJ sets: Copyright requires a licence from SUISA (with the exception of non-commercial live streams on social media, see section “Does it require a licence from SUISA?”) and the rights to the recordings played – the so-called neighbouring rights – require licences from the record companies/labels. For DJ sets on social media, the platforms themselves are responsible for this.
The only platform currently known to SUISA that has signed contracts for DJ live streams with most major labels is Mixcloud.

The live stream of my concert or DJ set on social media was blocked: Why and how can I avoid that this happens?
The reason for content being blocked is usually the performance of third-party music and related to this the lack of a certain licence agreement of the social media platform with a rightsholder (often a label or a publisher). In principle, social media companies are responsible for the content on their platforms and block unlicensed content using audio recognition technologies for their own protection.

The easiest way to avoid content being blocked on social media is to mainly perform self-composed music in the case of a live concert. Due to complex legal reasons, it is recommended that cover bands host the live streams not on social media but on their own website.

DJ sets on social media platforms should be avoided if possible, unless you use your own recordings. The reason for this is that very few labels allow the live streaming of their recordings on social media. Facebook and YouTube, in particular, have mature audio recognition technologies and thus very quickly detect unlicensed recordings. If you leave a recording of the live stream with unlicensed music on the platform, it will be automatically blocked by the software at the very latest.

Can I earn money with my live streams?
You can earn money with your live streams in many different ways:
The simplest form is to offer the live stream against payment. On your own website, for example, you could publish the link to the live stream against payment of a fee. This payment model could also be transferred to social media platforms by providing the live stream only in a closed group to which the audience only gets access for a fee.

At this point in time, classic payment systems such as bank accounts, for example, which are independent of the social media platform, still have to be used. However, it is to be expected that social media platforms will increasingly offer integrated payment solutions with which viewers can pay directly via the platform. For example, Facebook has announced that it will enable direct payments via the Facebook Live Platform.

Other potential sources of income are, for example, advertising breaks or live stream sponsoring. Merchandising articles could also be offered as part of the live stream or voluntary donations could be made possible.

Information for musicians whose live stream is carried out by an organiser

Who can be considered as the organiser or promoter?
Live stream organisers are mainly concert promoters and club companies, but also (media) companies, foundations, associations or other societies are possible.

Where can I access the live streams of these events?
On the one hand on social media, on the other hand also on own platforms, which were created especially for live streaming events. One national example is Artonair. An international example of such a live stream organizer is Stageit.

I was/we were asked for a live stream: Does the organiser have to pay me for my performance?
SUISA is basically of the opinion that engagements for live streams should be compared to engagements for concerts and that a fee is therefore appropriate. This should be regulated in an engagement contract together with the modalities of appearance.

Are the organisers also responsible for the copyright licence fees?
Yes, just as in the offline area, the organisers must take care of the copyright in the performed music. International providers need a licence from each affected rightsholder of the performed music (collecting societies, publishers etc.). A licence from SUISA is sufficient for national providers.

In this context, it is particularly important to study the general terms and conditions of the respective provider and to make sure that you do not grant the organiser any rights which you cannot or do not want to assign. For example, as a SUISA member, you should take special care not to grant performing rights to the organiser, as SUISA will already take care of this for you.

Does SUISA pay a fee for my appearance in a live stream?
If a live stream has been licensed by SUISA to an organiser, the authors and publishers involved in the music can expect to receive corresponding remuneration from SUISA (less the current cost rate of 15%). The amount of compensation depends primarily on whether and how much income has been generated by the organiser. The royalties are distributed on the basis of the programme, the “set listˮ, which the broadcaster submits to SUISA.

Further information:
As a SUISA member, do you have any legal questions or concerns in connection with live streams? Our legal department is happy to advise you on this: legalservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

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  1. M. Badertscher says:

    Was bedeutet “nicht-kommerzielle Livestreams” genau?
    Wenn der Stream für alle sichtbar ist (keine Zugangsbeschränkung), man Musik im Hintergrund laufen lässt und der Zuschauer freiwillig für den Stream etwas bezahlen kann aber nicht muss, dann ist das doch auch kommerziell? Der Streamer verdient ja auch damit. Einfach auf freiwilliger Basis.

    • Michael Wohlgemuth says:

      Besten Dank für die berechtigte Frage. In der Tat würden wir solche Livestreams auch als kommerziell betrachten. Sobald in irgendeiner Form Geld fliesst, handelt es sich aus unserer Sicht um ein kommerzielles Angebot.
      Beste Grüsse, Michael Wohlgemuth, SUISA Rechtsdienst

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The corona measures led to a loss of performance and earning opportunities for music creators and to a painful loss of live music for music consumers. Live streaming therefore enjoys great popularity, especially in these times, and takes on a pertinent role in the cultural industry. Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Information on live streams for SUISA members

Music via video as a replacement for cancelled concerts: Jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi played his work “We Need To Change” for the series of articles “Music for Tomorrow”; you can listen to it and watch it on the SUISAblog and the social media channels SUISA Music Stories. (Photo: screen shot video Cyril Bondi)

There are numerous possibilities to transmit live streams: The choice ranges from your own website, and social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or Dailymotion, to pure...read more

A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

To comply with coronavirus regulations, SUISA’s Board met for the first time by video conference on 28 and 29 April 2020. Board members were connected by sound and video from their respective home offices. After a short period of accustomation, the meeting proceeded apace without any significant communications problems. Even thorny issues were debated and decided in this way. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

Based on our current state of knowledge, we expect a 25% drop in total budgeted revenues owing to event cancellations and business shutdowns in the wake of the restrictions ordered by the public authorities to contain the corona pandemic. (Photo: RomeoLu / Shutterstock.com)

The main items on the Board’s spring agenda are the approval of the annual financial statements, status report and business report and their referral to the General Meeting, as well as the preparation of the agenda for the General Meeting.

SUISA’s 2019 financial statements show highly satisfactory results. Royalty revenues totaled CHF 155.25m, a 3% increase over the prior year. As a result, after deducting costs, CHF 129.34m will be distributed to beneficiaries in Switzerland and abroad in 2020. Moreover, thanks to significant investment income, an additional 7% can be distributed on all settlements.

Written vote instead of a 2020 General Meeting

The Board decided that, by way of exception, the business on the agenda for this year’s General Meeting will be put to a written vote since there is no assurance that the meeting scheduled for 26 June at the Bierhübeli in Bern will effectively be able to take place. The documentation for voting by correspondence will be sent to members at the end of May.

Two by-elections to the Committees are also on General Meeting’s agenda – and will be held this time in writing: the Board proposes Michael Hug to succeed Grégoire Liechti in the Distribution and Works Committee. Melanie Oesch is the designated candidate to succeed the late Reto Parolari as Member of the Board.

Course of business during the corona crisis: the Board establishes a task force

Apart from the usual items on the agenda for the spring meeting, discussions in the Board focused on corona-related threats, or rather, on the consequences of business shutdowns and the ban on events. Meanwhile, it is known that no large concerts will take place until the end of August at least, and that smaller events will only be allowed under stringent health and security measures liable to impact audience size. It is quite conceivable that these restrictions will remain in force for a longer period.

Under the circumstances, we expect SUISA’s budget for revenues from concerts, events and music entertainment in the hospitality industry to be cut by half. This translates into a reduction of 25%, or CHF 38m, in SUISA’s total budgeted revenues. A more accurate forecast cannot yet be made given the lack of visibility until the end of the year. The Board has established a task force to examine, together with the Executive Committee, how the loss in revenue will impact the course of business, and to identify the necessary cost-cutting measures.

Developments in the online licensing market

Another important topic in the context of SUISA’s consolidated annual financial statements was the development of the online licensing market. For three years now, SUISA Digital Licensing has been licensing the rights of SUISA members not only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, but throughout Europe – and even worldwide where the agreements so allow – through Mint Digital Services, SUISA’s joint venture with SESAC, the US rights’ management organisation.

By pooling repertoires, SUISA has become an important provider of services in this field with Mint. The two start-up companies Mint and SUISA Digital Licensing are not yet profitable. The Board has therefore instructed the Executive Committee to prepare and present a detailed evaluation of the break-even prospects, calculated under various scenarios.

The next meetings of the Board, to be held in video conferencing again, are scheduled for 25 May and 25 June 2020.

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  1. Yannick Popesco says:

    Bonjour étant membre de la Suisa et artiste actif je me pose une question importante.

    Y’a-t-il actuellement une lutte en cours pour le statut suisse d’intermittent du spectacle ?
    Quel est le statut légal de l’artiste pour l’instant ?

    Salutations,
    Yannick Popesco (artiste indépendant)

Leave a Reply

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

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To comply with coronavirus regulations, SUISA’s Board met for the first time by video conference on 28 and 29 April 2020. Board members were connected by sound and video from their respective home offices. After a short period of accustomation, the meeting proceeded apace without any significant communications problems. Even thorny issues were debated and decided in this way. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

A Board Meeting focused on the coronavirus

Based on our current state of knowledge, we expect a 25% drop in total budgeted revenues owing to event cancellations and business shutdowns in the wake of the restrictions ordered by the public authorities to contain the corona pandemic. (Photo: RomeoLu / Shutterstock.com)

The main items on the Board’s spring agenda are the approval of the annual financial statements, status report and business report and their referral...read more

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brave new worldBrave new world There is hardly any other technical development that has turned the music business upside down as much as the success of platforms such as YouTube. And hardly any technical development has been as remiss in the treatment of authors’ rights as the internet. In this interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin explores opportunities and difficulties of this rather young business sector. Read more
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  1. Rolf Hug says:

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

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

Brave new world

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

Brave new world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brave new world

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

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

Outlooks and insights

In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly the collection of remuneration for background music and the reception of broadcasts in offices outside the domestic and private circle or home life that are affected. Said collections had been linked to the BILLAG collection of the fees for the reception of commercial broadcasts. Since 2019, SUISA has been carrying out this type of collection directly. Another sector where investments into additional staff resources need to be made is the IT sector. This is because self-service options for customers and members on the SUISA web platform “my account” are due for major enhancements. Expanding activities in terms of global licensing of online music distribution via the subsidiary, SUISA Digital Licensing AG and the Joint Venture for services with SESAC also require more staff.

Budget approved, future discussed

On the income side, the shift of the advertising revenue in the TV sector towards the online sector are noticeable. Revenues from broadcasting rights are stagnating while online usage does not increase proportionally. The Board has therefore approved a budget for 2020 which has a slightly worse cost/income ratio. Executive Management has also been asked to plan measures for 2021 to lower the cost/income ratio again.

The strategic alignment of the company has been discussed further on the basis of a re-defined strategy paper from the October meeting. Strategic focal points for the next years are described by keywords such as services, income/cost ratio, competition and innovation. To this end, the Board determined a roadmap for 2020 in its December meeting.

On top of that, the Board listened to updates on the personal changes at executive level of subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing AG and Mint Digital Services, the Joint Venture with SESAC and discussed further development steps in the category of licensing of music in online services that is no longer limited per territory.

Distribution rules and by-elections

The Committee for Tariffs and Distribution and the entire Board subsequently decided on two changes to the distribution rules, namely an adaptation of the weighting of music in the case of sales broadcasts in advertising windows of foreign TV channels and the dissolution of distribution category 4A. These decisions are subject to the approval by the IGE (IPI), our supervisory authority. Furthermore, the Board determined the cost deductions for the distributions in 2020. They are to remain the same as in 2019.

After the election of Grégoire Liechti into the SUISA Board by the General Meeting in 2019, a seat in the Distribution and Works Committee has become available and needs to be filled. We are looking for a music publisher. The Board is going to propose Michael Hug, owner of the publishing house Ruh Musik AG, at its General Meeting in 2020.

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The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AGThe first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG A little more than one and a half years ago, SUISA founded its subsidiary company, SUISA Digital Licensing AG. The subsidiary company has now completed its first business year. A year which was under the auspices of development and brought about a multitude of new findings. It is time for retrospection and a first interim summary. Read more
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In its meetings on 10 and 11 December 2019, the Board focussed on the budget for 2020 and SUISA’s strategy for the next five years. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Outlooks and insights

Advertising revenues have shifted from the TV towards the online sector. This shift has led to a negative impact on copyright collections. (Photo: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com)

The budget for the year 2020 had already been discussed in advance on 27 November 2019 at the meeting of the Executive Committee for Finance and Controlling. The Committee and the Board had to establish that the investment and staff requirements remain high. This is due to the fact that SUISA has taken on new tasks.

In the case of the new task fields which entail a higher demand for staff, it is particularly...read more

Overall, a positive financial year 2018

The SUISA Board and its Committees for Tariffs and Distribution as well as for Organisation and Communication met for their regular spring sessions on 9 and 10 April 2019 at the SUISA head office in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Overall, a positive financial year 2018

Apart from the Cooperative Society SUISA, there is now also a SUISA group, which includes the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing and the 50% holding in the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services AG. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

The most important topic during the spring meeting are traditionally the resolutions concerning the financial statements of the past year for submission to the General Assembly. SUISA publishes two financial statements in accordance with the Standard Swiss GAAP FER from this year onwards, one for the parent company, the Cooperative Society SUISA, and one consolidated financial statement for the SUISA group. The group comprises the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing with headquarters in Vaduz (FL) and the 50% holding in the company Mint Digital Services AG, Zurich, a Joint Venture by SUISA and the American organisation for music rights, SESAC.

The annual financial statements of the group as well as of the parent company show an overall positive picture. Total collections reached a new high of CHF 160.8m. Income from the licensing of the online music business surpassed CHF 10m for the first time and contributed to this result.

Unfortunately, the secondary income was much lower last year. The reason for this is the bad investment year. Securities income only reached CHF 0.6m in 2018. In 2017, this amount still stood at CHF 3m. As a consequence, this difference now lacks in terms of covering expenditure for 2018. Nevertheless, cost coverage deductions taken from the settlements to members should not increase. The Board therefore decided to use more money from the liabilities that became available for the financing of the costs, and has subsequently reduced the supplementary distribution from 7% to 5%.

Preparations for the General Assembly

Additional topics were the preparation of other business for the General Assembly: the analysis of the organisation’s risks, the resulting management report and the approval of the entire annual report for submission to the GA. Lastly, nominations for two retiring Board members had to be decided upon, and documents relating to the investment policy and the compensation of Board members that had become necessary due to the new Articles of Association had to be resolved.

The Board took notice that Executive Committee was making efforts and got involved with the relevant departments to collect remuneration from abroad. In this context, it is important to take into consideration that the laws, tariffs and distribution rules are different at our sister societies and that SUISA cannot be held responsible for that. The Board therefore rejected the claim for a settlement of a member which held the view that it had not received enough remuneration for usages abroad.

Finally, the Board had to say farewell to executive assistant Dora Zeller, who is going to leave SUISA in order to retire. President Xavier Dayer expressed his thanks in the name of the entire Board for the turntable-like function that Dora Zeller had mastered with distinction throughout the last 10 years, and wished her well for the next, ‘third’ phase in her life.

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The SUISA Board and its Committees for Tariffs and Distribution as well as for Organisation and Communication met for their regular spring sessions on 9 and 10 April 2019 at the SUISA head office in Zurich. Report from the Board by Andreas Wegelin

Report from the Board: Overall, a positive financial year 2018

Apart from the Cooperative Society SUISA, there is now also a SUISA group, which includes the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing and the 50% holding in the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services AG. (Photo: Natalie Schlumpf)

The most important topic during the spring meeting are traditionally the resolutions concerning the financial statements of the past year for submission to the General Assembly. SUISA publishes two financial statements in accordance with the Standard Swiss GAAP FER from this year onwards, one for the parent company, the Cooperative Society SUISA, and one...read more

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

A little more than one and a half years ago, SUISA founded its subsidiary company, SUISA Digital Licensing AG. The subsidiary company has now completed its first business year. A year which was under the auspices of development and brought about a multitude of new findings. It is time for retrospection and a first interim summary. Text by Fabian Niggemeier

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

The first business year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG was influenced by negotiations with many music service providers, successfully and jointly held with the SESAC Digital Licensing AG. (Photo: MichaelJayBerlin / Shutterstock.com)

By launching the subsidiary company, in short SUISA Digital, SUISA has outsourced cross-border and international online licensing in its entirety. SUISA is, from now, only responsible for the licensing of music uses on homepages and music services which only address a Swiss audience.

SUISA Digital’s responsibilities

SUISA has, for nearly six years, issued pan-European licences for online uses. In other words, the rights of SUISA members in the online world are not granted just for Switzerland, but directly for the whole of Europe. Thanks to the outstanding IT systems in this sector, SUISA was able to significantly increase the income of its members.

Another step followed in 2017: SUISA founded the Joint Venture, Mint Digital Services, with US collective management organisation SESAC. Until then, SUISA negotiated agreements with internet music providers (music service providers, abbreviated to MSPs) and managed the agreements itself upon their conclusion. With the creation of the Joint Venture, these two fundamental activities were split and outsourced. Mint Digital Services is responsible for the administration of the agreements i.e. the technical processing and invoicing in the name of the rights holders, whereas SUISA Digital is responsible for market monitoring, market penetration and the negotiation of the agreements. By way of another new introduction, the territory where the agreements apply was extended from Europe to nearly the whole world.

SUISA Digital is thus building a global licensing system and also offers this system to third parties. Collective management organisations from other countries can instruct SUISA Digital just like publishers can (for their Anglo-American repertoire), or authors from all over the world. That way, a cost-efficient management of rights can be ensured in the best possible manner.

Joint licences

SUISA Digital does not pursue this task by itself. It is in the interest of the rights holders as well as the MSPs to structure the negotiations in as efficient a manner as possible. That means to cover and govern as many rights as possible with as few agreements as possible. For this reason, SUISA Digital offers all MSPs to extend their agreements to the repertoire of SESAC Digital Licensing AG (in short: SESAC Digital). Provided that the MSP agrees, SUISA Digital and SESAC Digital jointly lead the negotiations and bundle their repertoire into a joint licence.

This is in the interest of the MSPs since it means they have to undertake less negotiation efforts, but also in the interest of SUISA Digital and SESAC Digital since a highly interesting “package” can be offered to the providers by joining up the repertoires. The advantage of this package is also that it does not just contain compositions which are used in Switzerland or Europe but also create a high demand globally.

The negotiations

At the end of 2017, a small but motivated team only focussed on preparing the negotiations. A multitude of information and figures had to be gathered and linked. Designing the agreement for areas outside Switzerland and Europe presented some challenges to the negotiation team. The parties agreed that the price of music should be linked mainly to the local significance of the music and the local buying power. It can thus be ensured that an adequate remuneration can be invoiced which remains affordable to the consumers.

Economic deliberations also made it clear that the big MSPs had to be approached first. The six biggest providers are responsible for 80% of the turnover. This statistical average does, of course, not apply for the music of all members: Those who are active in a specific music genre will at best have a bigger turnover on the platforms that focus specially on that genre. It was nevertheless paramount to prioritise the providers in line with their market share; knowing that certain big providers would be among the negotiation partners that would be harder to deal with.

Involving a mix of consistency, comprehension and rigour it was possible to make good progress in the negotiations. After twelve months, agreements could be entered into with all big MSPs or the negotiations are close to being concluded. Since these agreements are now ‘safe’, the next task is to complete the market penetration.

Until now, agreements with the following providers were jointly entered into with SESAC Digital:
YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Deezer, Beatport, Facebook, Soundcloud, Melody VR, and Qobuz.

Joint negotiations are underway with the following providers:
Amazon, Napster, Tidal, Juke, 7Digital, dailymotion, Mixcloud, Red Karaoke, Soundtrack your Brand, What people play, Anghami, Auro, Bleep, Emoticast, Idagio, Smule, Xtendamix, Yousician, Better Day Wireless, DJ City, Juno, Linn Record, Musically, Recisio und Radionomy.

Add to that another approximately 20 MSPs from which feedback is due, as well as about 10 MSPs which are only active on a national level in the selected territories.

Distribution

As mentioned at the outset, the relevant agreements are processed and administered by the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services. The distribution of the income is, however, done by SUISA Digital and SUISA. A minimum of six months lies between the usage period and the distribution. The reason for this is that we do not represent the global repertoire, compared to the traditional offline sector. We can thus not invoice everything and then distribute, but only what we identify.

In this context, we depend on the collaboration by our members: The quicker they notify us of their works, the faster we can generate the invoices. For this reason, we are waiting between 60 and 100 days before we process the reports, depending on the MSP. That way, we can ensure that the majority of the new works and thus works with the highest usage levels has been registered and can be distributed by us. The distribution of the income is then made, at the latest, in the quarter after the payment from the MSPs has reached us.

There are going to be bigger settlements in due course. Since all agreements had to be renegotiated, no invoices could be sent out during the ongoing negotiations. In the cases of Spotify or Deezer, this led to the fact that the uses of the entire year 2018 were only invoiced at the beginning of 2019.

Outlook

During the second business year, SUISA Digital is going to focus firstly on achieving a coverage of the internet music market which is as complete as possible. Secondly, it is paramount that new markets, also outside of Europe, will be opened up and to ensure that SUISA members receive the remuneration they are due from anywhere in the world. For this purpose, we are constantly collaborating with Mint to improve systems and processes in order to continue providing our members with the best possible services in future.

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  1. Walter Thut says:

    Guten Tag,
    einen Fall welcher mich und andere von der SUISA vertretene Komponisten betrifft, und die oben genannten Zeitverschiebungen bei den Abrechnungungen fuer Urheber stark in Frage stellt, moechte ich gerne hier beschreiben:

    Die Urheber des bei dere SUISA angemeldeten Songs BACK TO THE DIRTY TOWN haben viele Millionen Clicks uf Youtube, und viele Screenshots Belege dass dieser Song seit 2017 z.B. in der Schweiz, Frankreich und den USA dauernd Webungen vorgeschaltet hat.

    Leider haben die Urherber von der SUISA noch keine einzige Ueberweisung erhalten. Obwohl die SUISA uns vor mehr als einem Jahr bestatigt hat, dass sie cies Clicks auch erfasst haben, und dass wir Verguetungen von der SUISA bis spaetestens Ende 2018 bekommen werden, haben wir noch keine einzige Abrechung dazu, und keinen einzigen Rappen ueberwiesen erhalten.

    Bei unserem digitalen Vertrieb funktioniert hingegen die Abrechnung sehr gut, und liegt bei mehreren Tausend CHF pro Jahr.

    Was stimmt hier nicht?

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A little more than one and a half years ago, SUISA founded its subsidiary company, SUISA Digital Licensing AG. The subsidiary company has now completed its first business year. A year which was under the auspices of development and brought about a multitude of new findings. It is time for retrospection and a first interim summary. Text by Fabian Niggemeier

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

The first business year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG was influenced by negotiations with many music service providers, successfully and jointly held with the SESAC Digital Licensing AG. (Photo: MichaelJayBerlin / Shutterstock.com)

By launching the subsidiary company, in short SUISA Digital, SUISA has outsourced cross-border and international online licensing in its entirety. SUISA is, from now, only responsible for the licensing of music uses on homepages and music services which only address a...read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rules for collective management

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

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

EU Directive authoritative for Liechtenstein

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

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

Adaptation of SUISA Articles of Association

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

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

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

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

Revision of the Articles of Association for online business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUISA General Assembly 2018: Your opinion counts!

SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly takes place on 22 June 2018 in the Bierhübeli in Bern. It will be opened with a music performance by the ad hoc formation Swiss Ländlermix in line with the theme; “Folk music – Switzerland crossways”. Important business items on the agenda are the review of the Articles of Association, the new Complaints Committee and an election of a substitute for the Distribution and Works Committee. Danièle Wüthrich-Meyer, President of Swissperform will attend as guest speaker. Text by Dora Zeller

SUISA General Assembly 2018: Your opinion counts!

Up to 19 June, members who are eligible to vote can register for SUISA’s General Assembly, which is to be held on 22 June 2018 in the Bierhübeli in Bern. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA’s General Assembly 2018 is determined by the review of the Articles of Association. The music business is changing: increased competition levels, new technologies, international networks, tougher regulations. SUISA wants and has to keep up with the developments and create a base for the successful advancement of the cooperative society.

Changes to the Articles of Association are therefore going to be proposed to the General Assembly. By way of the proposed amendments, SUISA’s Articles of Association will be brought in line with the Act on Collective Management Organisations (CMO Act) of Liechtenstein which has been ratified in March 2018, and thus with the European Directive on the Collective Management of Copyright.

Strengthening members’ rights and online business

The EU Directive which has in the meantime been implemented into national law in Liechtenstein, contains provisions which entail a strengthening of members’ rights. Apart from rules on transparency and for supervision of the collective management organisations, a significant point covers the making available of a complaint procedure for members. SUISA intends to create a Complaints Committee with well-versed persons from the music sector and legally adept experts. It will suggest committee members for election.

Apart from the above, it is necessary to adapt the Articles of Association to the EU Directive in order to continue to be able to licence online exploitations at cross-border level in the European Union. SUISA has been licensing music of SUISA members at pan-European level since 2013 in the online sector, partially even far beyond Europe’s borders.

Pursuant to the EU Directive, collective management organisations must meet certain standards in order to be able to carry out cross-border licensing. By way of revising the Articles of Association, the conditions will be met that SUISA can directly negotiate with and collect from online providers such as iTunes or Spotify regarding exploitations outside Switzerland and Liechtenstein, too. The online business is a focus of SUISA’s strategy for the immediate future. For this purpose, Mint Digital Services were founded together with SESAC (USA).

Statutory business

It features on the agenda each year: statutory business. The annual report, management report, financial statements, profit and loss accounts, cash flow statements, the annex to the annual accounts as well as the auditors’ report will be submitted to the General Assembly for approval. After that, the Board’s and the auditors’ activities are ratified, and an election determining the auditors for the current financial year takes place.

As usual, there will be an interim report on the current financial year. Management will report on the financial development in the first semester. Furthermore, those in charge of FONDATION SUISA will provide an overview of the activities of the foundation in 2017 at this year’s General Assembly.

Elections and guests

Natalie Riede will be proposed to the General Assembly for election into the Distribution and Works Committee as a substitute for Guido Röösli who is stepping down. She represents the Electronica sector, runs her own publishing company and has strong roots in the club scene.

There are multiple opportunities at the General Assembly to enter into conversation with many invited guests, e.g. representatives of music user associations, institutions or copyright experts. SUISA was able to secure a guest presentation by Danièle Wüthrich-Meyer. She is the President of Swissperform, the collective management organisation for neighbouring rights in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.

How to get there / Catering

We recommend that participants take public transport to get to the Bierhübeli. The bus from Bern train station stops directly outside the event location. There are no parking spaces available. The Park & Ride car park Neufeld is within 10 minutes walking distance from the Bierhübeli. Coffee and Gipfeli will be offered prior to the General Assembly. After the assembly, a buffet lunch will be available.

SUISA Annual Report 2017On 24. May 2018, SUISA’s 2017 annual report has been published. It is available online or can be ordered as a printed version at: www.suisa.ch/annualreport
The turnover in 2017 is very positive. The results of CHF 139.2m from rights management in Switzerland is 2% above the 2016 results. SUISA can thus distribute a record amount to rights owners who are entitled to receive a payment. Continue reading in the media release (PDF)
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SUISA’s ordinary General Assembly takes place on 22 June 2018 in the Bierhübeli in Bern. It will be opened with a music performance by the ad hoc formation Swiss Ländlermix in line with the theme; “Folk music – Switzerland crossways”. Important business items on the agenda are the review of the Articles of Association, the new Complaints Committee and an election of a substitute for the Distribution and Works Committee. Danièle Wüthrich-Meyer, President of Swissperform will attend as guest speaker. Text by Dora Zeller

SUISA General Assembly 2018: Your opinion counts!

Up to 19 June, members who are eligible to vote can register for SUISA’s General Assembly, which is to be held on 22 June 2018 in the Bierhübeli in Bern. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

SUISA’s General Assembly 2018 is determined by the review of the Articles of Association. The music...read more

Copyright Act Review: Authors and publishers must benefit more from the online exploitation of their works

Last week, 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. The “Transfer of Value”, for example, is extremely disappointing for creators and artists: Internet giants’ platforms continue to be the ones that cash in on the online exploitation of music and films. Creators and artists – and thus the suppliers of the content – are almost left empty-handed. Text by Andreas Wegelin, CEO

The Copyright Act urgently requires provisions for the online exploitation of works protected by copyright. The value creation nowadays completely passes by creators and artists – and thus the producers of the content. It is especially the powerful internet industry that benefits strongly thanks to the revenue from advertising and usage data. (Image: yaichatchai / Shutterstock.com)

Many creators and artists, users’ associations and other target groups are likely to have received the current version of the Copyright Act with relief: The legal text is a giant step compared to the half-baked draft which the Federal Council had presented at the end of 2015, and which had caused nearly all interest groups to shake their heads. The outcome was that up to March 2016 a record number of more than 1,200 position papers were submitted. The working group on copyright AGUR12 II was also reactivated. We had already reported on this earlier this year, in March, via our SUISAblog.

Parliament supposed to blaze the trail for a modern Copyright Act

The working group is made up of creators and artists, producers, users, consumers, internet service providers, the Federal Office of Justice as well as additional representatives of the administration has obviously done a good job: In the current version, the proposals of the working group were adopted to a large extent. It is now down to the Parliament to blaze the trail for a modernised version of the Copyright Act. SUISA as well as other Swiss collective management organisations support the compromise.

This does, however, not mean that the current version does not need any improvements. On the contrary – the biggest problems of digitisation for creators and artists remains unsolved: Protected works in videos, texts, images and music data have never been used at the same intensity levels as they are today via the internet. Some major internet companies are the profiteers of this exploitation while the value creation almost completely passes by creators and artists – and thus the producers of the content.

Thanks to the internet: Music lovers can nowadays access an enormous number of films, music pieces, books and news articles, nearly from anywhere and at any time. There is no longer a need for physical work copies. The availability in the Cloud or access via streaming is now enough. Apart from online distributors such as Apple, Spotify, Netflix or Amazon, music and films are nowadays mainly shared via social media platforms such as YouTube or Facebook.

Many internet providers hardly take care of copyright

Online distributors usually take care of copyright and enter into licensing agreements with producers and collective management organisations. This leads to musicians, producers and other creators and artists to receive a remuneration for their work. In the case of intermediaries, e.g. social media platforms and aggregators such as Tunein, the situation is different. The technical services they offer also allow users to disseminate works protected by copyright. In such models where protected content is shared, the providers hardly look after the copyright. On the contrary: They regularly pass the responsibility on to the users who upload the contents.

Add to that the fact that social media platforms and aggregators are the competitors of online distributors such as iTunes or Spotify – they yield high financial gains without participating the authors adequately. A European study shows that value added for the operators of such platforms is very high thanks to works such as music and films protected by copyright. 18% of Google’s income, for example, is made on the back of protected works e.g. via sponsored links. If the protected works were to fall away, the click rate and therefore the attractiveness of the search engine would drop. The value creation on platforms such as YouTube is even higher – they yield 2/3 of their turnover with contents protected by copyright – mainly from advertising, but also sales of profile data. They do, however, defer the act of clearing the copyright to those uploading the contents, even though the latter are not even in a position to do so.

A discussion on the Transfer of Value must also take place in Switzerland

Authors, the actual creators of the works, receive no or hardly any remuneration at all in the case of such platforms. This calls for urgent action. In the EU there has been a discussion on the Transfer of Value on the internet for quite some time. It is therefore high time to bring this discussion to Switzerland. Urgent measures are needed in Switzerland so that the transfer of value away from authors can be stopped – and therefore the creeping expropriation of creators and artists. Social media platforms, aggregators and search engine operators must be obligated to pay a compensation for the works used via their technical platforms.

SUISA and other Swiss collective management organisations are therefore going to introduce these important additions to the legislative process. Creators and artists must get a fairer share in the value creation on online platforms.

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Second attempt to review the Swiss Copyright ActSecond 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. Read more
Copyright: Quo vadis?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. Read more
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  1. sam says:

    danke für ihren einsatz

  2. Stevens says:

    They stole our revolution and now they steal our music.

Leave a Reply

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

Your email address will not be published.

Last week, 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. The “Transfer of Value”, for example, is extremely disappointing for creators and artists: Internet giants’ platforms continue to be the ones that cash in on the online exploitation of music and films. Creators and artists – and thus the suppliers of the content – are almost left empty-handed. Text by Andreas Wegelin, CEO

The Copyright Act urgently requires provisions for the online exploitation of works protected by copyright. The value...read more