Tag Archives: Synchronisation right

Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

What is a video game without sound? Video games are hard to imagine without music. Many games become huge hits precisely because of their music which is often even released as a separate soundtrack. What is the proper licensing procedure for music in video games and what is the purpose of the new Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement? Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

Gaming corner at the internet café: every game has to have the right sound. (Photo: OHishiapply / Shutterstock.com)

The video-game industry has been chalking up continuous growth for years. The corona crisis gave earnings in this sector an additional boost. Never before have so many people consumed video games, whether on their smartphones, tablets, consoles, or PCs.

Although music plays a significant part in this success story, video-game producers have so far only cooperated with collective management organisations in isolated cases. Instead, the producers have worked directly with authors and artists who do not belong to a collective management organisation, which has enabled them to sign what are known as “buy-out dealsˮ.

This is mostly still the case today. To improve its members’ competitive chances in this flourishing market, SUISA has prepared a new addendum to the rights management agreement.

Buy-out
In a buy-out, the author transfers all their rights of use in their works to the producer against payment of a single lump-sum amount. As a result, once the purchase price is paid, the author is not entitled to any further revenues from royalties or neighbouring rights. As a rule, members of collective management organisations cannot sign buy-out agreements because they have transferred their rights of use to their collective management organisation. The very purpose of the collective management organisation is to ensure that its members receive royalties for every new use of their works. Clearly, a compromise had to be found in the case of video games (see text).

Basic principles

What music rights must a video-game producer acquire?

To produce or reproduce a video game, the producer must acquire the following rights:

  • Synchronisation right: This is the right to set an audiovisual work (in this case, a video game) to music. SUISA members (or their publishers) may settle the synchronisation rights directly with the video-game producer.
  • Reproduction and physical distribution rights: These rights are necessary to reproduce a musical work on a video or data carrier and to distribute the recording thereafter. SUISA manages the reproduction and distribution rights. The new addendum provides that these rights may be excluded from the rights administration agreement (for more, see the section “New Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement for SUISA members”).
  • Online rights (download and streaming): Nowadays, most games are also – or only – sold on Internet for the buyer to download. In order to make a game available for downloading, the video-game producer or the online distributor (e.g. the platforms Steam or Origin) need to acquire a downloading licence.
    Certain video games can only be played by streaming on a browser, for example. This then requires a streaming licence.
    SUISA manages these online rights. Such rights cannot be excluded from the rights administration agreement by the addendum.
  • Neighbouring rights: Neighbouring rights are the rights of the performers and the rights in the sound recording. These two rights are collectively referred to as “Master Rights”.
    Authors who play their compositions themselves and produce their own recordings may licence these rights, as a performer and recording producer combined, directly to the video-game producer for all uses. Otherwise, the owner of the Master Rights must license them separately to the video-game producer. SUISA does not manage these rights.

For legal questions relating to video games, please contact our Legal Department: legalservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

New Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement for SUISA members

Buy-outs are, as we stated above, customary practice for video-game producers. This has repeatedly placed SUISA members at a competitive disadvantage on the video-game music market because of their membership. Producers have preferred to work with authors who do not belong to a collective management organisation and who can therefore freely dispose of their rights.

The new addendum is designed to eliminate the competitive disadvantage for our members while maintaining the basic fundamentals of collective management. Since buy-outs cannot be reconciled with the basic principles of fair and usage-based remuneration, SUISA has opted for a compromise solution.

The new addendum to the rights administration agreement enables SUISA members for the first time to settle the synchronisation, reproduction, and distribution rights for commissioned compositions in one package directly with the video-game producers. At the same time, SUISA will continue to manage online uses like downloads or streamings – as is also the case in the film sector.

All other rights of use remain with SUISA in accordance with the rights administration agreement. Thus, when music from a video game is broadcast on the radio or performed at events, for example, SUISA will assert the rights of its member composer.

In practice, for the reproduction and distribution rights to be excluded from the rights administration agreement, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • the work must be a commissioned composition. Pre-existing works that have already been published cannot be excluded from the rights administration agreement.
  • • When the work is commissioned, the following particulars must be communicated to SUISA:
    • title of the work and video game;
    • playing time of the work;
    • name and address of the principal;
    • name and address of the game producer;
    • nature and aim of the game.
  • The exclusion cannot apply to games which are used by a company for advertising, sponsoring or other purposes in association with presentations about the company itself or its products and services.

The Addendum can be obtained from the Members’ Department: authors (at) suisa (dot) ch

Licences and tariffs

What fees does SUISA apply for online uses?

Online platforms (domestic*)

These licence fees apply to online platforms offering video games for streaming or downloading.

Downloads 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
Generally CHF 500 per 100,000 downloads or streams
Subscription 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
CHF 0.15 per subscriber per month

*The licensing for international platforms like Steam, Uplay, Playstation Store etc. is handled through our subsidiary SUISA Digital Licensing AG.

Other online uses (e.g. game-playing via live-streaming or browser)

The following licence fees only apply if the producer or publisher itself distributes the game (e.g. via its own website):

General 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
A. Music only in the game menu and intro or outro sequences
CHF 400 per 100,000 downloads or streams
B. Games with in-game background music
CHF 500 per 100,000 downloads or streams
C. Games with a focus on music
CHF 600 per 100,000 downloads or streams
Advertising games 2% of total revenues Minimum fee
A. Music only in the game menu and intro or outro sequences
CHF 800 per 100,000 downloads or streams
B. Games with in-game background music
CHF 1,000 per 100,000 downloads or streams
C. Games with a focus on music
CHF 1,200 per 100,000 downloads or streams

What fees does SUISA apply for reproduction and distribution rights?

Since video games are audiovisual productions, Tariff VI applies. The main points of this tariff are:

Physical reproduction for sale

  • 3.3% of the retail sales price, or of costs (if the game is distributed for free)
  • 4.4% of the actual invoiced price (AIP) if the customer has concluded a multiannual contract with SUISA covering royalty settlements and can furnish to SUISA the breakdown of its sales with the number of units and sales price per audiovisual recording per accounting period. The AIP is the price invoiced by the customer to the retailer or, if the customer does not distribute the recordings itself, the actual wholesale price invoiced by the customer’s official distributor.
  • The applicable rate is reduced as follows:
    storage space of the protected music to total storage capacity of the carrier
    (e.g. 500 MB protected music to 2000 MB storage capacity of the carrier = 75% fee reduction)
  • Minimum fee:
    29 centimes per game with music, regardless of its playing time,
    2.2 centimes per minute of music and per audiovisual recording, subject to a maximum of 29 centimes per audiovisual recording if the customer provides SUISA with an accurate breakdown of the music in the game.

Special case: Commissioned music by SUISA members

If a member of SUISA composes commissioned music for a game and signs the Video Game Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement, the licence fee can be negotiated directly with the game producer without involving SUISA.

Production music mark-up

The use of production music managed by SUISA is subject to the following mark-ups:

  • for the synchronisation right: 50%
  • for neighbouring rights:
    • 50% of the total remuneration for the reproduction rights under Tariff VI (see above) and the synchronisation rights if the game is distributed only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
    • 100% of the total remuneration for the reproduction rights under Tariff VI (see above) and the synchronisation rights if the game is distributed internationally.

For video-game licensing or inquiries, please contact: customerservices (at) suisa (dot) ch

Related articles
Online licensing activities require early work registrationsOnline licensing activities require early work registrations From a sales perspective, online music distribution provides enormous opportunities. With little effort, music can be made available to a global audience within an instant. The distribution of copyright royalties, however, is complex when it comes to online usages. This is also due to the fact that the processes differ from those for performing and broadcasting rights. The most important advice is: First, register the work with SUISA as early as possible, then publish it online. Read more
Livestream licensing by SUISALivestream licensing by SUISA Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Read more
The Royalty Report is onlineThe Royalty Report is online News about “My account”: Thanks to user-friendly graphics, the Royalty Report provides a quick overview of how the copyright royalties developed over the last five years and allows individual analyses per mouse click. Read more
Collapse article

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.

What is a video game without sound? Video games are hard to imagine without music. Many games become huge hits precisely because of their music which is often even released as a separate soundtrack. What is the proper licensing procedure for music in video games and what is the purpose of the new Addendum to the Rights Administration Agreement? Text by Michael Wohlgemuth

Music in video games: Licensing and Addendum to Rights Administration Agreement

Gaming corner at the internet café: every game has to have the right sound. (Photo: OHishiapply / Shutterstock.com)

The video-game industry has been chalking up continuous growth for years. The corona crisis gave earnings in this sector an additional boost. Never before have so many people consumed video games, whether on their smartphones, tablets, consoles, or PCs.

Although music plays a significant part in this success story, video-game producers have so...read more

I want to advertise my products: What steps do I have to take with SUISA?

The production of advertising involves several areas. If you are producing an audiovisual commercial created and/or disseminated in Switzerland, you have to contact SUISA to obtain a licence to disseminate the commercial. This may raise several issues. The main points are addressed below. Text by Anne-Françoise Emery

I want to advertise my products: What steps do I have to take with SUISA?

SUISA is an indispensable interlocutor for the production of commercials. (Photo: Proxima Studio / Shutterstuck.com)

Music is a key factor affecting the reach of a commercial and is vital to the successful marketing of the product concerned. Choosing the music is therefore an important decision. A commercial with music does not have the same impact as a commercial without it – and a well-known title will give the production a different feel than one that is unknown. If you wish to use an existing title, you must first obtain permission from the rightholders. The rights concerned – synchronisation rights – are not normally managed by SUISA, but directly by the rightholders (mostly publishers).

You may also buy production music which is available on specialised websites. Alternatively, you may commission music from a composer especially for your commercial. This is known as commissioned music.

Registering your commercials with SUISA

Whether or not your commercial contains music, you must declare your production to SUISA. SUISA identifies all audiovisual productions and issues licences for music reproduction rights and music uses. You need to have a licence with a SUISA number in order to broadcast your commercial on television, in cinema theatres or on Internet.

SUISA needs the following information to identify your commercial:

  • particulars of the commercial (title, duration);
  • particulars of the music (title, composers, publishers, playing time of the music used in the commercial);
  • planned broadcast/usage schedule on Internet;
  • customer’s particulars.

Once this information is provided, a licence can be issued quickly. You may send us this information quickly and easily using the form available online.

You must declare each commercial even if there are several versions of the same commercial. You may declare several commercials on a single form.

If your commercial was produced abroad but there is an arranged version (post-production) for the Swiss territory, please indicate this on the form.

Different rights concerned

The reproduction rights you pay to SUISA allow you to disseminate the recording of your commercial on television, in cinema theatres or on Internet. The rights are payable once for the entire duration of use of the commercial. You may thus use the commercial several times at different periods, but you only have to pay the reproduction rights once.

The copyrights for the dissemination of the commercial on television or in cinema theatres are paid by the broadcaster or the theatres. You do not therefore pay the broadcasting rights for offline dissemination to SUISA. The situation is different concerning Internet: you are liable for the rights for making-available on Internet (online). The licence fee is graduated depending on the media budget of the advertising campaign. You must report each new wave of the campaign to SUISA.

Analogue commercials, “free domain” works and commissioned compositions

All advertising must be declared, but there are cases where no invoice is payable. The different language versions and short versions are treated like analogue commercials. Accordingly, no reproduction rights are due. However, if these commercials are made available on Internet, you must communicate the media budgets to us, and we will prepare an invoice based on that amount. Commercials without any music, or using non-arranged music in the public domain, or music free of rights are not subject to a fee.

But the designation “free of rights” may only apply to certain uses or may not apply to our territory. You may therefore still receive an invoice although you bought the music on a site claiming that its music is “free of rights”. We must respect the agreements we sign with our partners and collect the agreed fees if one of the rightholders is a member of a collective management organisation. To avoid the impression of paying twice, do not hesitate to make the necessary inquiries of your provider.

Similarly, if you commission someone to create the music for your commercial, the agreement you sign with them will only concern the creative work and the right to use the music (synchronisation right), but not the author’s rights if they are members of a collective management organisation. These are not the same rights.

How much does it cost and where does the money go?

The fees for reproduction rights vary depending on the visibility of the commercial. The minimum (for a single local broadcasting) is CHF 7 per second of music. The same second of music will cost CHF 60 for a national broadcasting. The synchronisation rights are not included. The licence has to be negotiated directly with the rightholder. In the case of production music, synchronisation rights are included with a 50% mark-up on the reproduction rights tariffs. All the rates are listed in our tariff (section 5).

The licence fee for the dissemination of online campaigns is a percentage (2.15%) of the amount paid for placing the advertisement (media budget) with a minimum fee of CHF 200. For further information see our licensing terms and conditions.

The fees collected by SUISA are distributed to the music creators (composer, lyricist, publisher) net of a 15% deduction covering administrative costs.

Our team remains at your disposal for any further information: contact us by email advertising (at) suisa (dot) ch or by phone at +41 21 614 32 28 / 30.

Related articles
Music in companies: What to bear in mindMusic in companies: What to bear in mind Music plays an important role in many businesses. It creates a pleasant atmosphere for customers, guests, and employees, it enhances advertising messages, and is an important part of corporate events. The rights to use music are easy to obtain from SUISA. Depending on the type of use, different tariffs and rates apply. Read more
Common Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customersCommon Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus video With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. Read more
Livestream licensing by SUISALivestream licensing by SUISA Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Read more
Collapse article

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.

The production of advertising involves several areas. If you are producing an audiovisual commercial created and/or disseminated in Switzerland, you have to contact SUISA to obtain a licence to disseminate the commercial. This may raise several issues. The main points are addressed below. Text by Anne-Françoise Emery

I want to advertise my products: What steps do I have to take with SUISA?

SUISA is an indispensable interlocutor for the production of commercials. (Photo: Proxima Studio / Shutterstuck.com)

Music is a key factor affecting the reach of a commercial and is vital to the successful marketing of the product concerned. Choosing the music is therefore an important decision. A commercial with music does not have the same impact as a commercial without it – and a well-known title will give the production a different feel than one that is unknown. If you wish to use an existing title, you...read more

Livestream licensing by SUISA

Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought in revenues of USD 44m.

These online events regularly fuel debate in the media, as well as between music creators and, naturally, the organisers of livestreaming events. More often than not, discussions revolve around the licensing terms and conditions for the necessary livestreaming rights.

What is a livestream?

A livestream is an event that is aired individually and in real time over the internet. The audience can log in at the start of the event and follow the event live – for free or for a fee. Livestreams should be distinguished from on-demand offers where spectators can choose to view the content at the time of their choice. Moreover, a livestream is not a broadcast, where contents are also transmitted in real time, but as programmes in a succession of broadcasts and not as individual events. A livestreaming licence is required for any individual event that is simultaneously recorded and streamed over the internet where the audience cannot freely choose when to view it.

Livestream licensing conditions are based on performance tariffs

Since streamed events are generally events that could just as well be staged live in the presence of an audience or performed by way of replacement for such events, the licensing terms are based on the terms and conditions of the relevant performance tariffs. Accordingly, the same percentage rate will apply to a streamed concert as that applied to a concert performed with a physical audience under Common Tariff K (CT K). Proceeding by analogy with the performance tariffs ensures that organisers of virtual and physical concerts are treated on an equal footing since their events tend to be reciprocal substitutes.

Licensing conditions distinguish between different categories: concerts, DJ sets, shows and ballet performances, and theatrical plays. The relevant rate is applied to revenues or costs as provided in the performance tariffs (CT K and CT Hb). Also in accordance with the latter, rates are adjusted proportionately with the duration of the protected music used (pro rata temporis rule). In addition to these categories, other classes of events, such as sports events, evening entertainment, seminars, religious services, events in homes and hospitals, etc. are grouped under “other events” – in this case, a flat rate of 2% of gross revenues or costs is applied.

If revenues are less than the gross cost, or if there are no revenues, the above rates are applied to total costs. As in the case of the performance tariffs, music-related gross costs are deducted. These costs consist of the following: musicians’ fees and expenses, rental of sound and recording equipment (microphones, mixing console, camera, etc.), instrument rental, and rent for the location.

Events with an audience that are additionally streamed

Live events are often staged with a small physical audience and simultaneously aired over the internet to extend their reach. In such cases, the organiser will need a “normal” licence for the performance rights and an additional licence for the livestream. As a rule, this means that, in addition to the fees charged under the performance tariff, the minimum fee CHF 40 will be charged for the livestream, since the revenues or costs of the event are already taken into account in the performance licensing fee. However, if the livestream generates separate revenues, the licence fees for the livestream will be charged on that basis.

Viewing streams after the live event

Many livestream organisers leave recordings of the stream on the internet for a certain period time after the live event; these recordings can be subsequently called up and viewed by people who missed the livestream at the official time. Provided the livestream was properly declared and licensed, SUISA allows it to be stored for subsequent viewing for a flat fee of CHF 100 in the case of concerts and DJ sets – for all other types of events the flat fee is CHF 50.

What rights are covered by the licence?

For organisers established in Switzerland or Liechtenstein whose streams are primarily intended for a domestic (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) audience, SUISA can licence the rights for the world repertoire. In the case of international organisers whose streams are intended for audiences including Switzerland and Liechtenstein, SUISA can licence the world repertoire for uses in our territory; in this case, the licence fees will be calculated only on the basis of the sales realised in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In the livestream area, SUISA only manages authors’ musical copyrights. For all other rights, e.g. neighbouring rights or synchronisation rights, users should contact the relevant rightholders.

Livestreams with music must be registered with SUISA

Please refer to our website for the licensing terms and conditions, application form, and further information about livestreams:
www.suisa.ch/en/customers/online/video/live-streams.html

To complete your application, the following information is required:

  • customer’s contact particulars
  • category of the livestream
  • livestream particulars title, duration, date, website URL, number of views
  • total revenues
  • (gross) costs
  • Will the event be recorded and stored for subsequent viewing? (yes/no)
  • list of musical works contained in the livestream

A licence is also required for livestreams produced via an external platform and embedded on your own website (e.g. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live or Twitch).

The rules governing current temporary exceptions in the livestream area proceeding from federal measures to combat the corona pandemic are also published on our website:
www.suisa.ch/en/suisa/measures-corona-pandemic/information-for-customers.html

Related articles
Music in companies: What to bear in mindMusic in companies: What to bear in mind Music plays an important role in many businesses. It creates a pleasant atmosphere for customers, guests, and employees, it enhances advertising messages, and is an important part of corporate events. The rights to use music are easy to obtain from SUISA. Depending on the type of use, different tariffs and rates apply. Read more
Information on live streams for SUISA membersInformation 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. Read more
Penny-pinching in digital music distributionPenny-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. Read more
Collapse article

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.

Driven by the pandemic, livestreaming of the most varied forms of events has grown in significance. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to share an event with a virtual audience despite the applicable bans and restrictions. This article outlines SUISA’s licensing practice and terms and conditions for livestreams. Text by Martin Korrodi

Livestream licensing by SUISA

A concert in your living room: organisers who air an event with music in real time over the internet must register and license the livestream with SUISA. (Photo: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock.com)

During the pandemic, dance and fitness courses, religious services, general meetings, and ever more concerts were recorded on the internet and aired as livestreams in replacement of disallowed live events. In October 2020, a virtual concert of the South Korean boy-group BTS attracted over 900,000 fans worldwide and brought...read more

Videos with music on the internet: New offer for small enterprises

Until now, enterprises and individuals had to license each video with music on their websites and social media channels individually at SUISA. From November 2019 onwards, SUISA and its partner Audion GmbH offer an annual lump sum for online usage of music in web videos to small enterprises. Text by Hansruedi Brütsch

Videos with music on the internet: New offer for small enterprises

With the new SUISA offer, small enterprises no longer have to license each video individually but benefit from an annual blanket fee. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

More and more companies use videos on their websites or social media channels in order to convey information in a simpler and more entertaining way, and to create a modern appearance. Whenever music is used in those videos, enterprises as well as individuals require a licence for copyright, i.e. for the composition and the lyrics as well as a licence for neighbouring rights i.e. the rights of the performers, producers of sound recordings and music labels. You can usually acquire the licence for the copyright from SUISA against payment of a fee, and the licence for the neighbouring rights from the producer of the sound recording, resp. the label. That way, authors, publishers, artists, producers etc. receive a payment for the use of their works and performances; the paid remuneration will be distributed to them after deduction of a commission of about 15%.

New: a joint licence for copyright and neighbouring rights

Up to now, users had to acquire such a licence for each individual video on the basis of Tariff VN. Together with Audion GmbH, SUISA has now developed a simpler, attractive licensing model for small enterprises of up to 49 staff and up to CHF 9m turnover. Against payment of an annual fee of CHF 344.00 (excl. VAT), small enterprises and individuals can put videos with music onto their own website as well as publish them on their own social media profiles. Thanks to the collaboration between SUISA and Audion GmbH, the annual blanket fee is covering the acquisition of both copyright and neighbouring rights.

The licence is valid for one year from the point in time when the invoice is issued. Small enterprises and individuals can thus upload an unlimited number of videos with music without having to notify us about each of them individually. A licence requirement is that the customer’s offer is directed mainly to interested parties in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Exceptions and other rights

The following usages are exempt from this blanket fee:

  • Advertising videos (commercial videos)
  • Music videos
  • Videos with a production budget of more than CHF 15,000
  • Videos with a total play time of more than 10 min.

Further information can be accessed on the SUISA website.

It is important that this licence only covers the reproduction rights and the making available online. In order to use music protected by copyright, resp. music from a sound recording for a video, you need an additional authorisation for the so-called synchronisation. The right to sync music with the film, i.e. to connect the two, is usually managed by the publisher of the work and is not granted by SUISA within the scope of this offer. The synchronisation rights for the desired works must be requested from the respective music publisher.

This is what you need to consider when selecting music

As far as synchronisation rights are concerned, you need to consider the following: If a company wishes to use a hit by Lo & Leduc, Züri West or by international stars such as Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift as background for their video, the sync rights can cost some hundred, even up to several tens of thousands of Swiss Francs. Before producing the video, you should therefore determine the costs for the synchronisation rights with the respective publisher in any case. A simple and cost-effective alternative is to use so-called mood music. This is music from catalogues offered by various publishers specifically for the musical setting of films and/or sound and audiovisual recordings. The advantage of mood music is that a film producer resp. user can get the authorisation for the use of this music directly from SUISA. Click here for further details and a list of providers of mood music.

When you create a video with music, the moral rights also have to be taken into consideration: It is, for example, not permitted to use a musical work for a political video without having acquired the authorisation from the publisher or the authors. You will also need the permission by the publisher/author if you arrange a musical work in a video (“arrangement authorisation”).

You can also read up more on the SUISA website regarding this topic.

Especially when it comes to well-known resp. successful musical works on social media, additional demands made directly by rightholders cannot be excluded (or, in some cases, the blocking of the video).

There is more info on the new blanket fee by SUISA and Audion GmbH on our website at www.suisa.ch/344 as well as Licensing terms and conditions for the use of music in videos on company websites and company-owned social media profiles.

Related articles
Common Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus videoCommon Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus video With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. In the meantime, more than 58,000 invoices have left the building – time to take a first provisional look back. Read more
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
Adapting federal copyright law to digital usageAdapting federal copyright law to digital usage On 26 March 2019, after months of protest on the streets and in the Internet community, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Revision of copyright law in Switzerland and the EU: where are the similarities, where are the differences? Read more
Collapse article

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.

Until now, enterprises and individuals had to license each video with music on their websites and social media channels individually at SUISA. From November 2019 onwards, SUISA and its partner Audion GmbH offer an annual lump sum for online usage of music in web videos to small enterprises. Text by Hansruedi Brütsch

Videos with music on the internet: New offer for small enterprises

With the new SUISA offer, small enterprises no longer have to license each video individually but benefit from an annual blanket fee. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

More and more companies use videos on their websites or social media channels in order to convey information in a simpler and more entertaining way, and to create a modern appearance. Whenever music is used in those videos, enterprises as well as individuals require a licence for copyright, i.e. for the composition and the lyrics as well...read more

Publishing agreements: What do I need to consider?

Publishing agreements in Switzerland are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) The respective statutory provisions on it are, however, not very detailed. In the case of music publishing agreements in particular, you cannot simply rely on the law. Besides, the contractual parties may also stipulate their own arrangements in the agreement. So what do you have to be aware of with respect to publishing agreements? Text by Nicolas Pont

Publishing agreements are concludes between all parties involved in a work: authors (composers, lyricists, arrangers) and a publisher. (Photo: Alexskopje / Shutterstock.com)

The publishing agreement is incorporated into the law (Art. 380 ff. OR). The legal provisions are, however, not mandatory, and the parties have a lot of room to manoeuvre for the negotiations prior to signing the agreement. In cases of doubt, it might help to refer to the commented version of the SUISA model agreement.

Publishers can be referred to as the “managers of a work” – as the entity or person whose duty it is to promote the work. They seek to maximise usage and exploitation, e.g. in the form of radio broadcasts, synchronisation with audiovisual works and sales of music score. In return for this promotional activity, publishers who are members of collective management organisations (CMOs) benefit from part of the royalties for the usage of the works. The publisher is thus included in the works registration as an interested party and obtains a percentage of the work remuneration.

Entering into agreements and contracting parties

SUISA’s model agreement can be used as a contractual basis and adapted as required, but usually, each publisher has its own agreement. SUISA members have the opportunity as authors or publishers to have SUISA’s legal department check their agreement prior to signature free of charge. Our legal department may correct any disadvantageous provisions and also provide details on the professionalism of the publisher.

The law assumes that the author is the individual that has created the work. This means that a group of authors cannot be considered as authors. Only an individual member of a band can be a contracting party and sign the agreement. In order for the works to be completely integrated as the subject matter of the publishing agreement, all who have contributed to the creation of the composition must therefore sign the publishing agreement.

Furthermore, attention should also be paid to the fact that arrangements of works already published are not automatically published with the same publisher. As arrangements must be protected in their own right according to the law, the publisher must acquire the rights on them in a separate agreement with the arranger.

Term of the agreement

The agreement may be in effect between 3 (minimum duration stipulated by SUISA) and up to 70 years after the death of the author (statutory term of protection for a work). It is generally in the interest of a publisher to sign an agreement which spans as many years as possible, whereas authors are interested in limiting the term covering the assignment of their rights. It is, of course, possible to enter into a three-year-agreement which – if it is not being terminated – can be extended on a rolling basis of one year. Such an option does not require any additional steps.

If you determine the term of the agreement, the investment of the publisher should be taken into consideration, e.g. in cases where music score is being published. In any case, the parties should be aware of how long they are bound contractually. Another important point is to realise how difficult it might be to dissolve an agreement prior to its end date if the parties end up having a conflict. It is absolutely vital that rightsholders inform SUISA in any case so that SUISA can adapt its documentation.

Remuneration for the publisher

The percentage for the publisher is jointly determined by the parties. There is only one mandatory provision: In accordance with SUISA’s distribution rules, the publisher may only receive a maximum share of 35% of the remuneration from performing and broadcasting rights (e.g. for concerts and radio broadcasts). Subject to this reservation, the parties are free to determine the percentage. If no percentages have been entered into the agreement by the contracting parties, those determined by the distribution rules shall apply.

Agreements often do not contain explicit percentages, but rather refer to the applicability of the distribution rules of the respective collective management organisation. In the case of agreements with foreign publishers who register their catalogues with the society in their country, this leads to the application of foreign distribution rules: For performing and broadcasting rights, a publisher in Germany therefore receives 33.33% (GEMA), and 50% in England (PRS).

The international umbrella association of the collective management organisations, CISAC, has set out a guideline for the distribution key between authors and publishers that publishers should not receive more than 33.33% for performances and broadcasts. The 230 CISAC member societies from 120 countries are free to adapt this key. Many societies, such as GEMA and SACEM already apply this recommended distribution. SUISA also wishes to adapt its rules and regulations to this CISAC guideline. The respective application for a change of the SUISA distribution rules has been submitted to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) at the beginning of 2016. The IPI approval is still pending and would not come into force before 2017.

An “admin publisher”, which merely creates a connection with a collecting society (i.e. completes work registrations, checks distribution statements and possibly submits complaints etc.) should, logically, receive a smaller percentage than a publisher who is also looking after the promotion and placement of the work and the search for a producer.

You should not forget to determine the distribution of such monies that are not being paid by the collecting societies (e.g. for synchronisation rights). These revenues are usually split 50/50 between the publisher and the author. Finally, the author usually receives a 10% share of the income arising from the sales of music score.

Collapse article
  1. Der Text sollte updated werden. Nach dem neuen Verteilungsreglement der SUISA erhält der Verleger neu höchstens 33,33% der Vergütung
    aus den Aufführungs- und Senderechten. (Im Text steht noch die alte Regel von 35%)

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.

Publishing agreements in Switzerland are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) The respective statutory provisions on it are, however, not very detailed. In the case of music publishing agreements in particular, you cannot simply rely on the law. Besides, the contractual parties may also stipulate their own arrangements in the agreement. So what do you have to be aware of with respect to publishing agreements? Text by Nicolas Pont

Publishing agreements are concludes between all parties involved in a work: authors (composers, lyricists, arrangers) and a publisher. (Photo: Alexskopje / Shutterstock.com)

The publishing agreement is incorporated into the law (Art. 380 ff. OR). The legal provisions are, however, not mandatory, and the parties have a lot of room to manoeuvre for the negotiations prior to signing the agreement. In cases of...read more