Tag Archives: Video on demand

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

No adequate share for audiovisual artists regarding video on demand and streaming success

Film director Ursula Meier is speeding from one success to the next, both in Switzerland as well as abroad. She elaborates why it is necessary to enhance the value of the position of film makers and actors in the video on demand (VOD) sector in the course of the copyright law review. Text/Interview by guest author Jürg Ruchti, CEO, SSA

No adequate share for audiovisual artists regarding video on demand and streaming success

Ursula Meier is a film director and a member of SSA. SSA is a sister society of SUISA and manages copyright for stage and audiovisual works. (Photo: Claude Dussez)

Ursula Meier, you are a member of the Société Suisse des Auteurs (SSA) – why?
Well, first and foremost because SSA looks after my copyright in an efficient manner. It also provides me with additional services: SSA is a cooperative society which is based on mutuality and solidarity and defends the interests of creators of audiovisual and stage works.

Creatives are asking for an implementation of new provisions regarding the video on demand (VOD) into the Swiss Copyright Act.
Yes, that’s very important. Thanks to the internet, our works are being consumed as often as never before but creatives are not paid to the extent that they would deserve. Digital economy players claim the income which have arisen from the consumption of our works but reject any obligations above and beyond that.

But isn’t it the case that authors negotiate their rights with the producer when they create a film?
Yes, but the contractual chains for the exploitation of the works are so complex and sometimes opaque that the income does actually not reach the artist or creator. There is a multitude of contracting parties. The digital economy leaves producers in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. They don’t know whether they’ll ever get their investment back. There are several reasons for that. This affects the levels of remuneration which they can grant artists during the contractual negotiations prior to the completion of a film. Our conditions have thus got worse.

Why should VOD platforms be obliged to remunerate authors via their collective management organisations?
Because if that were the case, authors would get a fair share of the success of their work, since their collective management organisations would get involved with the last player in the value chain i.e. the party which is in direct contact with the consumer. In the TV sector in Switzerland, this model has been established for quite some time and it works to our satisfaction. The current law does actually provide an obligation to pay for the rental of video tapes or DVDs. Since VOD has now taken over this market segment, the law should be adapted to this development.

The suggested new provision does, however, not seem to be beyond all doubt.
No, since it contains two contentious issues: First, it also affects music which does not want this provision since its system already works well in all countries. This is not the case for scriptwriters, directors and actors. A collective management of their rights only exists in few countries and the platforms often operate from other countries. The second issue which is problematic relates to works which are commissioned by TV broadcasters: The legislative draft provides for them to be excluded from the new mandatory remuneration for artists.

What exactly is the problem in the case of commissioned work?
These works are the most sought after works on this new market, for example series. The circle of principals has grown: In future, VOD platforms join TV broadcasters. There is no reason to treat the former in any other way than the latter. Works do follow a path. Sooner or later they can be consumed on a multitude of platforms. If commissioned works are being excluded from this new VOD right, authors do not receive any remuneration for their online exploitation. Their situation would therefore hardly improve. Here’s an example: A new series, commissioned by the RTS, which subsequently is made available via a streaming service such as Amazon would be exempt from the new legislation. This exclusion undermines the meaning of the new law and its general intention consequently misses the mark. The argument which forms the basis to this legal article does not reflect reality and I hope that this will be resolved in the course of the debates in the respective sessions.

About Ursula Meier
Ursula Meier is an internationally renowned film director. “Home” (with Isabelle Huppert) was among the nominated films at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and received numerous international awards. In 2012, “L’enfant d’en haut” (with Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein) was awarded the special prize Silberner Bär [Silver Bear] at the Berlinale [Berlin Film Festival]. Just like “Home”, in 2010, the film was given three Swiss film awards, among them the award for the best film, and it also represented Switzerland at the Oscars. At the beginning of 2018, Ursula Meier completed “Journal de ma tête”, a TV film with Fanny Ardant and Kacey Mottet Klein. The film was nominated for the Berlinale. Ursula Meier was the president of the jury for the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
About the remuneration right for video on demand
Online platforms that make available feature films (cinema and TV) have replaced DVD rental. Whereas, under Article 13 FCA, authors and artists used to receive a share of DVD rental revenues, this is no longer the case for online availability. The revised legislation must ensure that authors and performing artists, as the primary creators of value, participate in this new economic model. Swisscopyright welcomed the introduction of a right to remuneration in Articles 13a and 35a FCA-B in principle. The collecting societies, however, underscored that the right to remuneration must be supplemental to the fees paid to the creators by producers (for the commissioning of works, the performances therein and the corresponding rights). The FCʼs proposal is not clear in this respect. Swisscopyright argues that the parliamentary debates must make it clear that the right to receive remuneration is supplemental to, and not in lieu of, such fees.
“The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms. The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.”
Moreover, the exclusion of music works from the new right to remuneration was an essential element of the AGUR 12 II compromise; regrettably, the FC has not included this exclusion in its proposal. Since the voluntary collective management model functions well in the music sector, we should come back to the solution advocated by AGUR12 II. The music and the audiovisual sector diverge significantly in this respect “The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms (alongside the aggregators who handle all other rights in the film). The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.
In the field of music, however, it is necessary to ensure that the revenues distributed by collecting societies are properly apportioned between the composer and the publisher. The composer must in any event receive an equitable share. Article 49(3) FCA already guarantees this for concerts, radio broadcasts and CD productions. But this rule only applies to areas under federal regulation, and therefore not to VoD. As a result, Swisscopyright proposes rewording paragraph 5 of Article 13a FCA-B to stipulate the composerʼs right to a fair share of the voluntary collective management revenues, in line with SUISAʼs current practice.
Excerpt from the SUISAblog-Article: “Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees” by Vincent Salvadé.

The interview with Ursula Meier was conducted for the “Sessionsbrief” (session letter) (PDF, in German) of Swisscopyright, published in September 2018. Swisscopyright is the joint umbrella of the five Swiss collective management organisations ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform. With the “Sessionsbrief”, the societies inform interested parties from within the political scene as well as the public on subjects affecting copyright.

Swisscopyright Website

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Film director Ursula Meier is speeding from one success to the next, both in Switzerland as well as abroad. She elaborates why it is necessary to enhance the value of the position of film makers and actors in the video on demand (VOD) sector in the course of the copyright law review. Text/Interview by guest author Jürg Ruchti, CEO, SSA

No adequate share for audiovisual artists regarding video on demand and streaming success

Ursula Meier is a film director and a member of SSA. SSA is a sister society of SUISA and manages copyright for stage and audiovisual works. (Photo: Claude Dussez)

Ursula Meier, you are a member of the Société Suisse des Auteurs (SSA) – why?
Well, first and foremost because SSA looks after my copyright in an efficient manner. It also provides me with additional services: SSA is a cooperative society which is based on...read more

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

On 22 November 2017, the Federal Council presented its Message on the revision of the Federal Copyright Act (FCA), and referred the copyright bill (FCA-B) to the two houses of Parliament. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

Revision of Swiss copyright law: work has started in the Federal Palace in Berne. (Photo: Simon Zenger / Shutterstock.com)

The bill reflects the compromise reached by the AGUR12 II working group at the beginning of March 2017. Parliament has started working on the bill, and SUISA was invited to present its point of view on 12 April 2018 at a hearing organised by the Science, Education and Culture Committee of the National Council. SUISA also had the opportunity to state its views before the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council, first in writing and then orally on 18 May 2018.

Each time, SUISA acted in association with Swisscopyright, the entity which brings together the five Swiss collective management societies in the field of copyright and neighbouring rights. SUISA started by underscoring that the main objective of Swisscopyright was to ensure fair remuneration for cultural creators, including in the digital age. For this reason, the five collective rights management societies supported the compromise achieved at AGUR12 II level and, consequently, the Federal Councilʼs proposal. However, the societies asked for changes in the provisions governing the new entitlement to remuneration for video on-demand (VoD) with a view to ensuring that the new regulations better reflect the AGUR12 II compromise and secure fair remuneration for creators.

1. General appraisal of the FCʼs bill

Swisscopyright welcomed the Federal Council’s intention to introduce an “extended collective licence” (Article 43 FCA-B). Collecting societies could thus grant blanket authorisations for certain uses, including on behalf of rightholders they do not contractually represent; this would foster cultural projects while assuring remuneration for entitled parties. The blanket authorisation would apply to uses which cannot be individually controlled by rightholders; collecting societies would act as an “insurance” (of a sort) for users. The extended collective licence is perfectly consistent with the function of a collective rights management society, which is to facilitate and simplify rights management for all stakeholders.

Generally speaking, Swisscopyright welcomes all the measures designed to improve collective rights management: according to the FCʼs proposal, users would be required to communicate their declarations to collecting societies in electronic form to facilitate automatic processing (Article 51 FCA-B); collecting societies would be authorised to exchange the data delivered by users (Article 51(1bis) FCA-B); accelerated tariff appeals procedure (Article 74(2) FCA-B); and the Federal Arbitration Commission in charge of tariffs would be permitted to hear witnesses (see draft of new Article 14(1) lit. g of the Administrative Procedure Act). These new rules are designed to increase efficiency, reduce management costs and ensure more money is available for distribution to cultural creators.

“Swisscopyright believes these new anti-piracy measures are necessary to foster legal offers ensuring fair remuneration for creators.”

Swisscopyright also supports the Federal Councilʼs proposals for new anti-piracy measures since they contribute to improving the situation. According to Article 39d FCA-B, platforms presenting significant piracy risks would be obligated to actively combat copyright infringements (stay down obligation). The possibility of processing data for criminal prosecution purposes (Article 77i FCA-B), must be included in the FCA since the Federal Supreme Court ruled that collecting information on pirates and hackers (in particular their IP addresses) is not currently admissible under the Law on Data Protection (ATF 136 II 508). Swisscopyright believes these new anti-piracy measures are necessary to foster legal offers ensuring fair remuneration for creators.

Swisscopyright accepted the proposed copyright exception for the use of works for scientific research (Article 24d FCA-B), but only in the context of the AGUR12 II compromise. The fact that – conversely to what had been proposed in the original draft in 2015 – this exception is not accompanied by a claim to remuneration is indeed problematic for rightholders in the literary field. Swisscopyright underscored that no further concessions to the scientific community would be accepted on the backs of cultural creators.

2. Right of remuneration for VoD

Online platforms making available feature films (cinema and TV) have replaced DVD rental. Whereas, under Article 13 FCA, authors and artists used to receive a share of DVD rental revenues, this is no longer the case for online availability. The revised legislation must ensure that authors and performing artists, as the primary creators of value, participate in this new economic model: Swisscopyright welcomed the introduction of a right to remuneration in Articles 13a and 35a FCA-B. The collecting societies underscored that the right to remuneration must be supplemental to the fees paid to the creators by producers (for the commissioning of works, the performances therein and the corresponding rights). The FCʼs proposal is not clear in this respect; Swisscopyright argues that the parliamentary debates must make it clear that the right to remuneration is supplemental to, and not in lieu of, such fees.

“The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms. The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.”

Moreover, the exclusion of music works from the new right to remuneration was an essential element of the AGUR 12 II compromise; regrettably, the FC has not included this exclusion in its proposal. Since the voluntary collective management model functions well in the music sector, we should come back to the solution advocated by AGUR12 II. The music and the audiovisual sector diverge significantly in this respect. The composers and publishers of film music entrust their rights to collective rights management societies like SUISA which act directly vis à vis the VoD platforms (alongside the aggregators who handle all other rights in the film). The contractual system for music assures composers more favourable financial conditions than they would have under a statutory remuneration right.

In the field of music, however, it is necessary to ensure that the revenues distributed by collecting societies are properly apportioned between the composer and the publisher. The composer must in any event receive an equitable share. Article 49(3) FCA already guarantees this for concerts, radio broadcasts and recordings. But this rule only applies to areas under federal regulation, and therefore not to VoD. As a result, Swisscopyright proposes rewording paragraph 5 of Article 13a FCA-B to stipulate the composerʼs right to a fair share of the voluntary collective management revenues, in line with SUISAʼs current practice.

The plenary debates in the National Council (expected in autumn) will show whether the parliamentary committees were sensitive to the argumentation put forward by Swisscopyright.

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On 22 November 2017, the Federal Council presented its Message on the revision of the Federal Copyright Act (FCA), and referred the copyright bill (FCA-B) to the two houses of Parliament. Text by Vincent Salvadé

Copyright law revision: work starts in the parliamentary committees

Revision of Swiss copyright law: work has started in the Federal Palace in Berne. (Photo: Simon Zenger / Shutterstock.com)

The bill reflects the compromise reached by the AGUR12 II working group at the beginning of March 2017. Parliament has started working on the bill, and SUISA was invited to present its point of view on 12 April 2018 at a hearing organised by the Science, Education and Culture Committee of the National Council. SUISA also had the opportunity to state its views before the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council, first in writing and then orally on...read more

Changes to the distribution of collections for internet use

New distribution keys will be used for the distribution of collections for internet use (audio and video on demand offers). For downloads, a new key of 25% for performing rights and 75% for reproduction rights shall be applied. For streaming, the split shall consist of 75% performing rights and 25% reproduction rights. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the distribution of collections for internet use

SUISA changes its distribution keys for the income from streaming and downloads. (Photo: Rawpixel / Shutterstock.com)

For years, the distribution split between authors and publishers in terms of the allocation of the collections from performing and broadcasting rights on the one hand, and reproduction rights on the other hand has been agreed separately. SUISA has accordingly provided for different distribution keys in its distribution rules for the two rights categories.

For online uses, there is no separate distribution key which could be directly agreed on by the contracting parties. As a consequence, the collections from online uses are on the one hand distributed in analogy with the performing rights distribution key and on the other hand in accordance with the reproduction rights distribution key (cf. item 2.1.2 of the distribution rules).

Up to now, SUISA has been distributing 100% of collections from streaming in accordance with the distribution key for performing rights and 100% of collections for downloads in accordance with the distribution key for reproduction rights. This meant, however, that SUISA held a special position internationally and, at the same time, this practice no longer met the latest developments in the online sector.

New distribution keys for downloads and streaming

Apart from taking a look at the usual rules applicable abroad, technical procedures were also evaluated with a view to the analysis that led to the determination of the new distribution ratios of the distribution keys for download and streaming. Technically speaking, the making available of a work is based on the creation of a copy of the work on the server of the provider, the transmission of the copy to the consumer as well as the performance resp. potential storage on the terminal device of the consumer.

During discussions among the various committees (Distribution and Works Committee andBoard) with respect to the proposed changes, various views regarding the performing and reproduction rights shares existed with respect to the weighting of the distribution keys.

In particular the question arose how the aspect of transitoriness resp. repeated playback of a work should be considered for streaming, and which percentage should reflect this for the weighting of the performing share.

In the end, the following split was agreed:

  • Download: 25% of collections shall be allocated to the performing rights distribution key and 75% to the reproduction rights distribution key.
  • Streams: 75% of collections shall be allocated to the performing rights distribution key and 25% to the reproduction rights distribution key.

Distribution of the collections from video on demand (VOD)

At the same time, the provisions regarding the distribution of collections from video on demand were adjusted. The respective revenues shall now be distributed in analogy to download and streaming “per file” (per work). Prior to that, the revenues from video on demand had been supplemented to the remuneration for broadcasts of pay TV. The change now also permits in this sector that collections are distributed in a more exact and pinpointed manner.

For further information see the distribution rules of SUISA.

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New distribution keys will be used for the distribution of collections for internet use (audio and video on demand offers). For downloads, a new key of 25% for performing rights and 75% for reproduction rights shall be applied. For streaming, the split shall consist of 75% performing rights and 25% reproduction rights. Text by Irène Philipp Ziebold

Changes to the distribution of collections for internet use

SUISA changes its distribution keys for the income from streaming and downloads. (Photo: Rawpixel / Shutterstock.com)

For years, the distribution split between authors and publishers in terms of the allocation of the collections from performing and broadcasting rights on the one hand, and reproduction rights on the other hand has been agreed separately. SUISA has accordingly provided for different distribution keys in its distribution rules for the two rights categories.

For online uses, there is no separate...read more