Tag Archives: Online licensing

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.

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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

Blockchain – an ending or future for collective management organisations?

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

Blockchain - an ending or future for collective management organisations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Third party content on your own website must be paid for pursuant to Swiss legislationThird party content on your own website must be paid for pursuant to Swiss legislation If you operate a website, you cannot dispose of the copyright of third party contents without authorisation. If you use third party contents on your own website, you require an authorisation from the author pursuant to Swiss legislation in effect, irrespective of the type of the technical integration. SUISA issues licences for the online exploitation of music, including music in videos, and negotiates these case by case. Read more
To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 yearsTo be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. Read more
Mint Digital Services: FAQsMint Digital Services: FAQs SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs. Read more
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Dear members, everyone in the music industry is talking about “Blockchain” at the moment. But it’s not easy to find anyone who can explain in simple terms what it’s all about … By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Blockchain - an ending or future for collective management organisations?

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

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

To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

SUISA founded the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services together with US authors’ society SESAC. The project helps improve the competitiveness of SUISA in the online music market. Shown in the picture: Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO (on the left), and John Josephson, Chairman and CEO of SESAC Holding. (Photo: Hannah McKay)

SUISA can look back on a successful financial year 2016. Thanks to the positive year-end result, we are able to pay out more than CHF 128m to those who are entitled to receive a payment. That is more than ever before in the successful history of the Cooperative Society SUISA, spanning more than 90 years.

We are also doing well in terms of our costs. An average cost coverage deduction of 12.37% shows that we have the costs under control. If you take the reoccurring supplementary distribution of 7% into consideration as a contribution to the costs, the actual percentage amounts to 6.75% of the pay-outs to those entitled to receive a payment.

SUISA improves its competitiveness in the online market

Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive annual accounts, we are also going to present the newly founded project for the improvement of SUISA’s international competitiveness in the online music market.

Together with the US authors’ society SESAC, we have founded Mint Digital Services as a Joint Venture back in February 2017. The JV enterprise offers services in relation to the administration and processing of online music licences. With this JV, we emphasise our strategic direction, i.e. to offer rightsholders an efficient and cost-effective administration.

Wanted: Active participation of our cooperative members

There will also be news on the legal framework conditions. AGUR12 II has passed a compromise for the attention of the Head of the Ministry in the EJPD (Federal Department of Justice and Police, FDJP); we are now waiting for it to be substantiated in a legislative draft.

Please do take part in our General Assembly. Only your active participation ensures that SUISA will be there for its members as a Cooperative Society in future.

See you on 23 June 2017 in the Kaufleuten Zurich.

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The General Assembly of our Cooperative Society will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017, in Zurich. Members will have the opportunity during the General Assembly to co-determine the destiny of their cooperative society. Apart from the positive results of the annual accounts for 2016, SUISA is also going to report on the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services, co-founded with SESAC, plus on the developments regarding the copyright revision and the debate on the ‘service public’. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

To be continued: Our success story, spanning more than 90 years

SUISA founded the Joint Venture Mint Digital Services together with US authors’ society SESAC. The project helps improve the competitiveness of SUISA in the online music market. Shown in the picture: Andreas Wegelin, SUISA CEO (on the left), and John Josephson, Chairman and CEO of SESAC Holding. (Photo: Hannah McKay)

SUISA can look...read more

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

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

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sustainable growth for members Cooperative societies excel by their solid economic activities. This is also true for SUISA. The cooperative society for composers, lyricists and publishers of music has slightly increased its income in 2015. SUISA pays out approx. 88% of its income to the rightsholders. That’s a total of CHF 125m. The cooperative society thus makes a substantial contribution to the financial livelihood of its members. Below is an analysis of the annual result. Read more
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SUISA and SESAC, a US collective management organisation, have established Mint Digital Services as a joint venture. Mint Digital Services will take over the invoicing and administration services for SESAC and SUISA’s online licensing activities. The joint venture will also offer services to publishers and collective management organisations. Warner/Chappel Music, a major publisher, is already using Mint’s services. Here the main FAQs: By Fabian Niggemeier, Martin Korrodi, Sebastian Spring and Erika Weibel

Mint Digital Services: FAQs

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

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

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

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

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

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

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

Copyright review: The devil is in the detail

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

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

Cooperation with the American organisation SESAC

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

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

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

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Sustainable growth for members Cooperative societies excel by their solid economic activities. This is also true for SUISA. The cooperative society for composers, lyricists and publishers of music has slightly increased its income in 2015. SUISA pays out approx. 88% of its income to the rightsholders. That’s a total of CHF 125m. The cooperative society thus makes a substantial contribution to the financial livelihood of its members. Below is an analysis of the annual result. Read more
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All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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

The fight for the copyright review gets tougher

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

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

SUISA creates Joint Venture with SESAC: Mint Digital Licensing

SUISA has founded a Joint Venture together with the US American collective management organisation SESAC under the name Mint Digital Licensing. The new enterprise shall licence the online usage of works by SUISA and SESAC members on a Europe-wide basis. The service range offered by the Joint Venture is also open to other market players such as (major) publishers or international collective management organisations. An interview with SUISA’s CEO Andreas Wegelin on the advantages and the significance of this cooperation.

SUISA creates Joint Venture with SESAC: Mint Digital Licensing

Important step in terms of online licensing: SUISA and SESAC found the Joint Venture Mint Digital Licensing (Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock)

SUISA communicates its cooperation with the US American collective management organisation SESAC at the beginning of August 2016. What are the plans of the two societies?
Andreas Wegelin: SUISA and our US American sister society SESAC intend to cooperate in the online music business. More specifically, they want to provide international licensing of music offers which are available online. To this end, we will create a Joint Venture with SESAC: Mint Digital Licensing. The new enterprise is going to issue licences to providers of music streaming and download services for the repertoire of SUISA and SESAC for all of Europe. The Joint Venture is also going to offer its services to third parties; for example to major publishers which can assign their online rights in Europe directly, or other collective management organisations which are not in a position to carry out international licensing themselves.

SUISA and SESAC will jointly negotiate with the online service providers within the remit of the Joint Venture. And the negotiations in this case will not just be with providers with which SUISA already has agreements. Agreements with new providers are also going to be part of the negotiation process.

How did the cooperation between SUISA and SESAC come about?
SESAC was looking for a reliable partner for the markets outside of the USA in order to license its repertoire successfully in those territories. During this process, the US American sister society approached SUISA and asked to enter into a cooperation.

Which advantages does the Joint Venture have for both societies?
Both collective management organisations have the aim to create financial benefits for their members from online exploitation of their works. The Joint Venture represents repertoire of more than 11.5 million works of SESAC and 4.5 million works of SUISA, of more than 110,000 composers, lyricists and publishers in total. Thanks to the size and relevance of the joint repertoire both societies strengthen their negotiation position vis-a-vis the online service providers. As a consequence, the most important benefit of the Joint Venture is to be able to represent the interests of the SUISA and SESAC members in the negotiations with Spotify, Apple, YouTube and others with more gravity. The fair remuneration of authors and publishers for online music uses is therefore the main concern.

Specifically from SUISA’s perspective, another aspect is important: We have invested some of our resources into the modernisation of our IT infrastructure in the past years. We did this to create a good starting position for us regarding the online music business. It is now possible for us to offer our IT services to other societies and publishers against payment, and to use the full capacity of our systems. Another effect will be that we will generate higher secondary income. Half of the profit from Mint Digital Licensing goes to SUISA, for example. Higher secondary income helps us to keep the cost deductions for the distributions to SUISA members at a lower level. Taking the supplementary distribution into consideration, the deduction we took in 2015 was an average of 6.76%.

A low administration cost rate will remain an important issue for us in future. It is possible that, in a few years, a competitive situation arises regarding the management of broadcasting rights, as we already experience it for online rights today. In a worst case scenario, part of the income from the administration of broadcasting rights might fall away. This would mean that we have less income, but more or less the same expenditure. Higher cost deductions from the settlements paid to our members would be the consequence. Said higher secondary income counteracts such measures.

Thanks to the cooperation with SESAC in the Joint Venture, SUISA can thus not only strengthen its market position in the online business, but also generate secondary income simultaneously, helping to keep cost deductions low – all of which is a benefit to SUISA members.

SUISA members will also have a simple access to controlling and managing their catalogues, licences and royalty settlements via the Joint Venture in future.

What changes for SUISA members following the Joint Venture?
The cooperation with SUISA remains the same for members, be it concerning the range of services offered by SUISA or the scope of rights management. There are no plans for a new rights administration agreement or changes to the distribution rules as a consequence of the Joint Venture. The member services of SUISA will continue to look after the members – there won’t be any changes regarding our members’ contact partners. The fact that licensing is now being executed by the Joint Venture does not entail a duplicate admin process for members; just like before, the cost deductions are only carried out once. Only the online service providers will be affected by the main changes: The SUISA repertoire will be licensed to online music services via the Joint Venture.

How many staff will be employed by the Joint Venture and where will the company be located?
The exact structure of the Joint Venture as well as the choice of the company location is still being defined at this stage. We intend to keep the organisational structure of Mint Digital Licensing as lean as possible. Both SUISA as well as SESAC have the aim to work together efficiently and to keep admin costs low.

What is the ownership structure of the Joint Venture? Are you going to sell a part of SUISA?
No. SUISA will remain 100% independent. It will provide its own services to the Joint Venture. Furthermore, both companies [SUISA and SESAC] will contribute a six-digit amount in order to cover the initial costs of the joint enterprise. SESAC and SUISA own 50% each of Mint Digital Licensing. This also means that both companies are equal partners within the Joint Venture.

What implications does the Joint Venture have for SUISA employees? Is a reorganisation or a staff reduction planned?
Personnel cutbacks are not going to be made at SUISA as a consequence of the Joint Venture. It might even lead to a slight increase in job positions. With regards the company organisation, some employees who already work for the online licensing area will continue their work in the name of Mint Digital Licensing from now on. A reorganisation at SUISA due to the Joint Venture is not going to take place.

The Joint Venture marks an important development for SUISA as an organisation: As mentioned before, cross-border competition exists regarding the rights assignment in the online music market in Europe. SUISA can now directly manage the online rights for its members across the whole of Europe. Vice versa, this also applies to international sister societies. As a consequence, relating to its online business, SUISA is in direct competition with collective management organisations such as SACEM, GEMA, PRS or the Swedish STIM. This competition in the online area is a new experience for SUISA. We are ready thanks to our range of specific services. Exciting times are ahead of us.

(Photo: isler-fotografie.ch)

Christian Fighera, co-founder of Two Gentlemen and Board members of SUISA, comments on the Joint Venture:

“I am very happy about the step SUISA has taken to enter into this Joint Venture with SESAC. In a world where the online distribution has been completely liberalised, it is an advantage that our members are treated as equals to famous international composers. Thanks to the Joint Venture, we can license a comprehensive and attractive repertoire on a worldwide basis. At the same time, we can strengthen our competences and our relationships with new partners. New authors and well-established artists alike will be able to benefit from this Joint Venture. It also shows that SUISA can make progress and develop itself further while offering member and customer-oriented high-quality services.”

Who is SESAC?
SESAC is one of the three big US American collective management organisations for performing rights. The company was founded in 1930 and its legal form is subject to private law. John Josephson has been CEO and Chairman of SESAC for the last two years. He is pursuing an innovative strategy with its organisation in order to absorb the fast structural and technological change in the music business and to continue developing SESAC to an integral music rights organisation – a one stop shop.
As a consequence, he invested in state-of-the-art IT systems and made sure they were brought to cutting-edge technology levels. They are comparable to the SUISA systems. In 2014, SESAC bought and incorporated Rumblefish, a company specialised in micro-licensing. Last year, SESAC bought the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), a big organisation for mechanical rights. HFA represents about 48,000 US American music publishers.
SESAC looks after music creators such as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Beyoncé, Green Day, Mariah Carey and many other globally successful artists. Among the film composers looked after by SESAC are Christophe Beck, Jeff Beal, Danny Lux, Jon Ehrlich, Dennis C. Brown or Bruce Miller. SESAC also represents SESAC TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Parenthood, Dateline NBC, Dr. Phil, Seinfeld or The Doctors.On the Harry Fox Agency:
HFA has been looking after the mechanical rights of music publishers in the USA since 1927. For years, HFA has grown to become one of the biggest licensor of mechanical rights, representing about 48,000 music publishers and thus a repertoire of more than 6.7m compositions as of today. After the takeover by SESAC, the repertoires were merged and are now managed by the SESAC systems.
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SUISA has founded a Joint Venture together with the US American collective management organisation SESAC under the name Mint Digital Licensing. The new enterprise shall licence the online usage of works by SUISA and SESAC members on a Europe-wide basis. The service range offered by the Joint Venture is also open to other market players such as (major) publishers or international collective management organisations. An interview with SUISA’s CEO Andreas Wegelin on the advantages and the significance of this cooperation.

SUISA creates Joint Venture with SESAC: Mint Digital Licensing

Important step in terms of online licensing: SUISA and SESAC found the Joint Venture Mint Digital Licensing (Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock)

SUISA communicates its cooperation with the US American collective management organisation SESAC at the beginning of August 2016. What are the plans of the two societies?
Andreas Wegelin: SUISA and our US American...read more