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Adapting 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? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the revision of Swiss copyright law back to the advisory Committee for Science, Education and Culture (CSEC) with instructions to take into account current developments in the EU.

Despite the carefully balanced compromise fostered in the Working Group on Copyright (AGUR) by Federal Councillor Sommaruga, Minister of Justice at the time, the copyright law revision is now threatened by further delays, not to mention the risk that special interests, which had been set aside as part of the compromise, may surface anew.

The main revisions in the EU Directive

The European Directive contains two fundamental improvements in copyright protection which are particularly controversial:

the liability of platform providers for the sharing of content uploaded by consumers
This provision mainly concerns the major social media platforms (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, or GAFA for short). Under existing EU law, platform operators can argue that they are merely service providers and are not responsible for the content made available on their platforms. This position is rooted in the EU’s e-commerce directive of 2000, which had limited the liability of service providers (under what was termed the “safe harbour” principle) with a view to stimulating the digital economy.

In the meantime, it has been rightly recognised that the uploading of protected content by private persons infringes copyrights. Even providers such as Google have sought contact with major rights owners and collecting societies because of Youtube, but only offered financial compensation on a “voluntary” contractual basis. It is precisely because content-sharing platforms like Youtube make available practically all existing content that they are so popular with growing numbers of music and film enthusiasts.

Article 17 of the new Directive (Article 13 of the original draft) provides that EU Member States must enact rules stipulating that service providers are liable for the content shared (uploaded) on their platforms.

As a result, GAFAs will be obliged either to conclude licence agreements with all rightholders, or to introduce technical mechanisms (upload filters) to prevent altogether the uploading of protected content. It was this latter prospect which inflamed the Internet community and led to demonstrations in front of the EU Parliament against what was feared would lead to drastic restrictions on the freedom of expression and artistic freedom.

Protecting press publishers from the publication of their articles on internet platforms
Article 15 (formerly 11) of the new Directive also proved very controversial in the parliamentary debates. The proposed neighbouring rights protection was designed to grant publishers a participation in the dissemination of their content, e.g. on Google News. Interestingly, however, the simple reference to Google News can serve to increase a press publisher’s reach, and news per se cannot be protected by copyright. Similar regulations in individual EU countries have proved ineffective, particularly because major publishers prefer to benefit from free advertising on Google News rather than threaten Google News with a licence claim and risk being ignored.

The key points of the Swiss revision

Different legal situation compared to the EU
The Federal Copyright Act (FCA) and Switzerland’s legal situation are considerably different to EU law and the copyright legislation of the individual EU Member States. The EU Directive of 2000 on the single market is not applicable in Switzerland. GAFAs cannot invoke the “safe harbour” principle here. In principle, platform operators are already liable for the content shared by their users, but enforcing a liability claim is a complex and hazardous process. Switzerland’s copyright legislation also recognises the principle that, relying on private copying rules, consumers are entitled to use content from the Internet regardless whether or not the source is licensed to make it available. This liberal approach reflects the acknowledgement that only the provider can reasonably license the mass consumption of content from the Internet, certainly not the consumer.

The AGUR compromise
The AGUR compromise was adopted in March 2017 in the context of the Swiss legal framework described above. Relying on that compromise – which contained some grey areas disadvantageous to authors – the Federal Council submitted a revised bill to Parliament. The bill contained a “stay down” obligation designed to reinforce the liability of online content-sharing service providers: once content is qualified as illegal, providers must keep it off their platforms permanently. In addition to other important improvements for authors, which we have already reported elsewhere, the Federal Council’s proposal contains changes for digitisation, such as a “scientific” exception or limitation for text and data mining, and licensing simplifications through extended collective licensing. The last two proposals are also part of the recently adopted EU Directive (Articles 4 and 12).

Remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights for publishers
On 12 February 2019, the Committee of the Council of States proposed to introduce an entitlement to remuneration for journalists and neighbouring rights protection for publishers whose work is used on Internet platforms. The introduction of an entitlement to remuneration for journalists would certainly be welcome, and might even suffice if journalists, as the original creators, would involve their publishers in the claims. This would avoid having to introduce a controversial neighbouring right with the dubious effect described above.

Exception for libraries
At the last minute, the Committee of the Council of States also proposed to exempt public libraries from the obligation to pay remuneration for the rental of works – a provision in force since 1993. Public libraries lobbied actively for this exemption; under the existing tariff, libraries do not have to pay a fee on the rental of works provided they charge an annual fee rather than individual fees when they rent out works. Whatever the case, the truth of the matter is that libraries make books, DVDs, CDs or music streaming available to their users for a small fee, in competition with the markets concerned.

Exception for reception in hotel and guest rooms
As with public libraries, the exception for guest rooms deviates from the AGUR compromise to the detriment of authors. Intensive lobbying by the hospitality industry had already led the National Council to propose an exception for the reception of programmes in hotel rooms and holiday flats in December 2018. Moreover, the exception was extended to rooms in institutions and prison cells. This demand also stems from a tariff dispute with the collecting societies. In 2017, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the use of works in such premises did not qualify as private use if the hotelier or landlord arranges reception and makes the corresponding equipment available. In this case, both are acting with the intent of making a profit, i.e. the provision of reception facilities for protected content is a sales argument for landlords and influences their turnover. Artists should not be required to subsidise the hospitality industry through this exception; their situation would then be significantly worse than under existing copyright law.

Switzerland needs updated copyright legislation now – without any new exceptions!

Switzerland has been struggling to modernise its copyright law since 2010. The AGUR compromise made some progress in adapting the law to the contemporary environment. Individual interests that run counter to this modernisation are liable to emerge in parliamentary debates and may even lead to a worsening in the existing law. This must not be allowed to happen. The situation is somewhat different for journalists: the re-use of press products on the Internet must be seriously examined when the law is updated. Maybe the time is not yet ripe. This was also acknowledged by the Committee of the Council of States in its second consultation on copyright law on 29 April, and it called on the Federal Council, by way of a postulate, to examine the development of copyright law in Europe.

In its 2019 summer session, Parliament would be well-advised to adopt the copyright law revision on the basis of the AGUR compromise without any new exceptions for public libraries or the hospitality industry.

Cautious take-over and adaptation of the EU Directive to Swiss specificities

The new EU Directive could nevertheless serve as a model for additional changes to Swiss law in the future. As mentioned above, the CSEC of the Council of States has asked the Federal Council to produce a report on the situation of journalists and newspaper publishers in particular; in this context, the liability of online content-sharing service providers should be examined more closely. What is more, the sharing or uploading of protected content on the Internet is even less controllable than private copying. The EU Directive therefore rightly establishes a liability on the part of GAFAs, because they are the ones who make sharing possible and attractive in the first place. However, it will be difficult for GAFAs to license each uploaded contribution from the individual rightholders.

One option might be to oblige the platforms to remunerate rightholders on a lump-sum basis for the sharing of content on their platforms. Anything demanding unreasonable technical effort to control should generally be allowed; on the other hand, online content-sharing service providers would be obliged to compensate authors and other rightholders via the collecting societies under a legal licence similar to private copying. In the next few years, the Swiss Parliament will have to revisit these issues again in more depth with a view to implementing the EU Directive across the borders.

Post-revision is pre-revision

Swiss copyright legislation is likely to remain a work in progress for some time to come. Digitisation, the easy global exchange of protected works on the Internet, and technological advances such as artificial intelligence or machine learning mean that legal standards will have to be reviewed again. The current revision of Swiss copyright law, hopefully to be completed in June 2019 based on the AGUR compromise, is not final but merely the prelude to the next revision.

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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? Text by Andreas Wegelin

Adapting federal copyright law to digital usage

In the EU member states, the reform of copyright law has driven mainly young internet users to protest on the internet and in the streets. Fired up by social media platforms, it is alleged that freedom of expression was seriously at risk because of the new copyright. (Photo: Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 12 March 2019, a few days before the decision of the EU Parliament, the Council of States referred the bill for the...read more

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The revision of the existing Copyright Act is entering the decisive phase this year. After seven years’ preparatory work, parliamentary debates have now started. The revised act could come into force on 1.1.2020 if both federal houses respect the delicate compromise. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: when a hotel receives radio or television broadcasts and retransmits them into its guest rooms, it is a use which is relevant for copyright purposes. (Photo: Piovesempre / iStock)

The long road to a minor partial revision started nine years’ ago: in 2010, State Councillor Géraldine Savary asked the Federal Council to propose solutions to prevent the use of illegal online offers. The Federal Council rejected the request arguing that authors could simply give more concerts to make up for the loss in earnings caused by the slump in CD sales. This answer outraged musicians, and rightly so: not all composers can perform their own works.

In summer 2012, Federal Councillor Sommaruga responded to the protests by creating a working group to prepare proposals for the revision of the Copyright Act. AGUR12, as the working group was called, submitted its recommendations in December 2013. Based on those recommendations and on a wealth of additional unacceptable proposals, the Federal Council produced a preliminary bill in 2015 which met with widespread criticism in the consultation process. FC Sommaruga was obliged to reconvene the AGUR in autumn 2016. AGUR12 II concluded its work in March 2017 with a compromise. At the end of 2017, relying largely upon this compromise, the Federal Council submitted a revised bill to Parliament.

Main points of the revised bill

The relevant key elements of the compromise for musical authors are:

  • Obligation for the hosting provider to remove illegal content and to prevent further uploading of such content (Article 39d); provision for processing personal data to facilitate prosecution of illegal uploading of protected music (Article 77i). Additional demands by authors and producers, e.g. to block access to illegal offers on the Internet, met with strong resistance from consumers and network operators, and were disregarded in the compromise. In this context, one should also consider that such blocking in the musical field would in any event have come ten years too late. Thanks to a wide range of affordable, legal and easy-to-use music streaming services, file-sharing networks and illegal services in the musical field have been greatly reduced.
  • SUISA’s right to information from users in tariff negotiations and accelerated procedure for the approval of copyright tariffs (Articles 51 and 74(2))
  • Extended collective licence (Article 43a): this provision, for instance, enables users to obtain a licence from the collecting societies for publications from archives.

Remuneration for video on demand – unnecessary for composers

The Federal Council also proposed to introduce a remuneration claim for music with regard to video on demand (Articles 13a and 35a). Music creators do not, however, need this: Article 10(2) already entitles them to authorise or refuse the use of their works (in this case, film music). SUISA has already concluded licence agreements for VoD services with all main providers. No new remuneration claims are needed. The existing legislation is adequate.

The VoD remuneration claim was primarily designed to enable Swiss filmmakers to receive fair compensation when their films are viewed on new platforms like Netflix. This would reduce the “value gap” that filmmakers suffer because they participate neither in the direct “pay per view” revenue nor in the platforms’ indirect revenues from advertising and the sale of usage data. Conversely to film music composers who are well organised in rights’ management organisations worldwide, Swiss filmmakers have very limited bargaining power and are therefore dependent on this new remuneration claim.

Against the recommendations of AGUR12 II, the Federal Council extended this claim to music authors who, as mentioned above, do not need this special entitlement. Regrettably, the National Council did not follow our reasoning in the detailed discussion of the law in December 2018 and failed to provide for an exception for music authors. The last hope now lies with the Council of States, which will probably deal with the subject in its March session.

New exemption from the obligation to pay remuneration for radio and TV reception in hotel rooms?

In December 2018, the National Council decided, via the back door so to speak, to follow the parliamentary initiative of Valais FDP MP Nantermod and add a new clause in Article 19(1)(d) FCA providing that the retransmission of radio and TV broadcasts, but also of music or video channels, on demand in hotel rooms, rented holiday apartments, hospital rooms and prison cells, are exempted from copyright fees. As a result, authors would be in a worse position than under the existing legislation, and the revision of the law would work largely to their disadvantage.

What is at stake? If a hotel retransmits radio or TV broadcasts to its guest rooms, the retransmission qualifies as a “rebroadcast” within the meaning of Article 10(2)(e) FCA. This was decided by the Federal Supreme Court in 2017. The providers of TV sets and audio players in guest rooms are hoteliers, landlords of holiday apartments, or hospital operators. All of them operate for profit. Such usage does not, therefore, qualify as private use. The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: this is a relevant usage under copyright law.

The decisions are based on the Bern Convention, the most important international treaty in copyright law, and on other international treaties such as the WCT and the WPPT. Switzerland cannot disregard these treaties. If it did, it would expose itself to sanctions because the obligations under the Bern Convention are also enshrined in the WTO Agreement on the Protection of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). To avoid sanctions if Switzerland were to incorporate this new exception into its law, the exception could only apply to the works of Swiss authors – a totally unacceptable discrimination.

“Hotel rooms would hardly be cheaper if the small copyright fee was eliminated.”

What does it cost hoteliers today? Fees are calculated based on the surface area covered by the TV/audio usage. Up to 1000 m2, the monthly licence fee is CHF 38. Hotels with up to 50 rooms of 20m2 each pay less than CHF 1 per room per month. The rate is slightly higher for larger areas. Hotels with 100 rooms pay CHF 91.80, which is still less than CHF 1 per room per month. The cost for hotels is therefore modest. However, all things being equal, the shortfall for authors and other rightholders would add up to some CHF 1 million per year.

Hoteliers pay their other suppliers for all other services delivered to their hotels. These range from electricity and cleaning to soap in the bathrooms. These goods and services are not provided free of charge – they are part of the hotel supply chain. Hoteliers run their hotels for profit, and in-room entertainment contributes to the price of a room and, therefore, to the added value of the hotel. Why should hoteliers who offer this service to their guests not have to pay the music and film rightholders? Exempting hotel rooms from the copyright remuneration obligation would discriminate against authors and other rightholders compared with other suppliers. And consumers would not even benefit from the exemption because hotel rooms would hardly be cheaper if the small copyright fee was eliminated.

The compromise and the FCA revision both at jeopardy

As mentioned above, the compromise bill for the revision of copyright law put together by AGUR12 II and the Federal Council is now on the finishing straight. If Parliament were to significantly worsen authors’ situation by introducing the hotel room exception, authors would feel slighted and might present further demands for revision. With the risk that no new law is adopted and nearly nine years’ revision efforts will all have been for nothing in the end.

If the revision were to deprive them of the right to allow their works to be rebroadcast in hotel rooms against remuneration, music authors would probably be better off under the existing law.

It is essential that we defend the delicate compromise in the coming months and impress on the Councils that no further changes to the detriment of authors are admissible.

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The revision of the existing Copyright Act is entering the decisive phase this year. After seven years’ preparatory work, parliamentary debates have now started. The revised act could come into force on 1.1.2020 if both federal houses respect the delicate compromise. Text by Andreas Wegelin

Copyright law revision: compromise is the key to success – no exceptions for hotel rooms

The jurisprudence in Switzerland and Europe is clear: when a hotel receives radio or television broadcasts and retransmits them into its guest rooms, it is a use which is relevant for copyright purposes. (Photo: Piovesempre / iStock)

The long road to a minor partial revision started nine years’ ago: in 2010, State Councillor Géraldine Savary asked the Federal Council to propose solutions to prevent the use of illegal online offers. The Federal Council rejected the request arguing that authors could simply give more concerts to make up for...read more

M4music copyright debate: Streaming = Goldmine?

At the M4music 2018, SUISA is going to hold a panel discussion on Streaming. Participants discuss, among other subjects, whether artists get their fair shares in a booming streaming market and – if not – what needs to change. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music copyright debate: Streaming = Goldmine?

The 21st M4music takes place between 22 and 24 March 2018. (Photo: M4music)

The turnover of Streaming providers are on the rise: Videos, text and lyrics, images and music files are used via the internet as intensively as never before. It’s not just authors of the works that benefit from this but also big players such as Google, Facebook etc. What does it look like in future if the value creation is mainly happening at the big internet companies while the providers of the contents i.e. the creators and artists remain empty-handed?

What would potential scenarios and paths that could guarantee a fair – or at least fairer – income for creators and artists?

We are looking forward to a large audience which is of course invited to participate in the conversation.

Event details:

Friday, 23 March 2018 at 5.00pm
Matchbox in the Schiffbau, Zurich

The panel will be held in German and translated into French.

The 21st M4music takes place between 22 and 24 March 2018. The pop music festival of the Migros-Kulturprozent in Lausanne and Zurich provides a diverse programme again: Concerts by over 50 national and international acts, panel discussions and workshops on current topics of the music business.

www.m4music.ch/en/conference

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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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At the M4music 2018, SUISA is going to hold a panel discussion on Streaming. Participants discuss, among other subjects, whether artists get their fair shares in a booming streaming market and – if not – what needs to change. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music copyright debate: Streaming = Goldmine?

The 21st M4music takes place between 22 and 24 March 2018. (Photo: M4music)

The turnover of Streaming providers are on the rise: Videos, text and lyrics, images and music files are used via the internet as intensively as never before. It’s not just authors of the works that benefit from this but also big players such as Google, Facebook etc. What does it look like in future if the value creation is mainly happening at the big internet companies while the providers of the contents i.e. the creators and artists...read more

2018 – a challenging year?!

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

2018 – a challenging year?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoireSubsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire
Subsidised radio and TV broadcasters in Switzerland and Liechtenstein tend to create more broadcasting space for the music of SUISA members than privately financed channels. Moreover, the majority of the broadcasters supported by the Swiss Federation play more diverse music titles than their counterparts which are focussed on advertising revenue. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media. Read more

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

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

2018 – a challenging year?!

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

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

SUISA’s financial year 2018: an outlook

In the Committee and Board meetings towards the end of the year, framework conditions for the following financial year are set. As such, the meetings of the SUISA Board in December 2017 continued to be characterised by budgets, cost rates, staffing plans, roadmaps, politics and quite a bit more. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

SUISA’s financial year 2018: an outlook

During the meetings of the SUISA Board in December 2017, the focus was on the figures for the next financial year. (Photo: Kemal Taner / Shutterstock.com)

For the first time in the history of SUISA, the Board presented two budgets in the December meeting: that of the Cooperative Society SUISA and that of the group of companies. The group of companies includes – apart from the parent company – the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing (headquartered in the Principality of Liechtenstein). Furthermore, the group of companies holds a 50% share in the Joint Venture Mint Digital Licensing AG (headquartered in Zurich).

The Board members were given access to the budgeted figures of the affiliated companies. The definitive decision on their business lies, however, with the committees in charge of each society. A new point is therefore added to SUISA’s competency rules in terms of rights and obligations of the Board.

SUISA budget 2018

Back to the numbers: A modest increase is expected for performing and broadcasting rights and a continuation of the downward trend among the reproduction rights. The compensation claims, however, might see a steep rise compared to the 2017 budget (thanks to higher collections from the blank media levy, internal networks in businesses and the rental of set top boxes). Part of the online collections will be allocated to the subsidiary company for accounting purposes. Collections from online use for music on Swiss websites, online advertising campaigns and video on demand services remain in the SUISA budget.

SUISA’s overall turnover budgeted for financial year 2018 amounts to CHF 151.9m. Collections from the use of copyright in Switzerland are budgeted to reach CHF 136.6m. On top of that, net revenues of CHF 11m are expected from abroad. Furthermore, secondary income of CHF 4.3m shall contribute to the overall results.

Expenditure is probably going to increase compared to the previous year, mainly because of the collections of CT 3a (background entertainment). From mid-July, additional staff positions are budgeted to take over this business. The Board has approved the budget for 2018 knowing that it is based on the rejection of the No-Billag-Initiative. Should the voting populace reject the fee for the reception of broadcasts, the changed situation would be met with adapted scenarios.

Regulations and statutory provisions

The auditors regularly supply the governing bodies of SUISA a questionnaire on potential unlawful actions. With this statutory provision, the level of awareness among governing bodies for unlawful acts shall be determined. By way of their answers, management and Board estimate the risk levels and comment on the control procedures. The results were approved and passed on to BDO.

Cost coverage deductions

The Board also decided that the deductions in the off-line sector correspond to those of the previous year. For the online sector it approved slightly changed rates for domestic and international application.

Changes at Board level

Due to the limitation of the period in office, two members of the Board will step down in June 2019. The knowledge acquired over many years in office by the Board members who are now stepping down needs to be replaced and SUISA needs to prepare for future challenges. As early as autumn 2017, a working group has begun with a situational analysis regarding the imminent Board retirements. The Board was informed about the results and the next steps of this analysis.

Copyright Act Review

In November, the Federal Council has passed the message regarding the Copyright Act review together with the legislative proposal on to Swiss parliament. The matter is initially going to be dealt with at National Council level by the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC), and subsequently in the States Council’s Science, Education and Culture Committee (SECC).

The Board was informed about the developments by G. Savary, member of the Board and the SECC. At the same time, he learned from the Executive Committee that the collective management organisations are satisfied with the draft by and large. It corresponds to the compromise developed by the AGUR12-II.

Need for action continues to exist in the sector concerning the online usage of music. In the EU there has been a discussion on the transfer of value on the internet for quite some time. It is high time that this discussion also takes place in Switzerland and that measures are implemented to stop the shift of the value creation away from authors towards internet technology companies.

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In the Committee and Board meetings towards the end of the year, framework conditions for the following financial year are set. As such, the meetings of the SUISA Board in December 2017 continued to be characterised by budgets, cost rates, staffing plans, roadmaps, politics and quite a bit more. Report from the Board by Dora Zeller

SUISA’s financial year 2018: an outlook

During the meetings of the SUISA Board in December 2017, the focus was on the figures for the next financial year. (Photo: Kemal Taner / Shutterstock.com)

For the first time in the history of SUISA, the Board presented two budgets in the December meeting: that of the Cooperative Society SUISA and that of the group of companies. The group of companies includes – apart from the parent company – the subsidiary company SUISA Digital Licensing (headquartered in...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
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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