Tag Archives: Work exploitation on the internet

Swiss Congress on Film and Media Music

From 29 September to 2 October 2020, the film and media music congress “SoundTrack_Zurich” will take place during the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss film and media music professionals can use this event to expand their network, broaden their expertise and exchange ideas with experienced, internationally active business insiders. Text by Erika Weibel

Sountrack Zurich: Swiss Congress on Film and Media Music

SUISA is supporting the first edition of the “SoundTrack_Zurich” film and media music congress, the programme of which is available at www.soundtrackzurich.com. (Photo: SoundTrack_Zurich)

Composers from Switzerland and abroad will share their experience and knowledge with the audience at two nearby locations. During the event, congress participants will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with international guests of the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) in workshops, panels, case studies and lectures on current topics of the Swiss and European film music scene.

“SoundTrack_Zurich” is closely networked with the ZFF and its guests as well as with the ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts), where a lively international exchange on university education for film and media music professionals takes place within the framework of the “International Media Music Competition” and Immsane (“International Media Music & Sound Arts – Network in Education”).

Star guest Ray Parker Jr.

Star guest of “SoundTrack_Zurich” is Ray Parker Jr. who composed the title song for the film “Ghostbusters” and will present the world premiere of the documentary “Who You Gonna Call” about his career.

Ray Parker Jr. wrote and performed in hundreds of top 25 hits. He has composed songs, performed on stage and worked as a session musician with some of the biggest icons in the industry, including Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, The Temptations, The Carpenters and The Supremes.

Copyright issues related to film and media music creation

On the morning of 29 September, lectures and information events will also be held on copyright issues. For example, SUISA experts can answer questions about documentation and cue sheets or provide information on SUISA’s distribution system.

In addition, a panel will be held on the “Digital Challenges” of today’s age, in which IT experts will discuss with business insiders what the future digital value creation in film music creation should look like.

SUISA sponsorship commitment

“Soundtrack_Zurich” is organised by SMECA, curated by Michael P. Aust (“SoundTrack_Cologne”) and organized in cooperation with “SoundTrack_Cologne”, Forum Filmmusik, ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts) and IMMSANE. “Soundtrack_Zurich” is organisationally and financially independent of the Zurich Film Festival.

“SoundTrack_Zurich” is to become a new hub for actors in the international film music scene. Film and media music creation also plays a very important role in the Swiss music business. For this reason, SUISA is pleased to contribute to the organisation of this event as a sponsor.

Web links to the event and the cooperation partners:

SoundTrack_Zurich
Zurich Film Festival
International Film Music Competition
Immsane.com
Smeca
Forum Filmmusik
ZHdK
SoundTrack_Cologne

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From 29 September to 2 October 2020, the film and media music congress “SoundTrack_Zurich” will take place during the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss film and media music professionals can use this event to expand their network, broaden their expertise and exchange ideas with experienced, internationally active business insiders. Text by Erika Weibel

Sountrack Zurich: Swiss Congress on Film and Media Music

SUISA is supporting the first edition of the “SoundTrack_Zurich” film and media music congress, the programme of which is available at www.soundtrackzurich.com. (Photo: SoundTrack_Zurich)

Composers from Switzerland and abroad will share their experience and knowledge with the audience at two nearby locations. During the event, congress participants will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with international guests of the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) in workshops, panels, case studies and lectures on current topics of the Swiss and European film music scene.

“SoundTrack_Zurich”...read more

Information on live streams for SUISA members

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

Information on live streams for SUISA members

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

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

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

Information for musicians who organise live streams themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. M. Badertscher says:

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

    • Michael Wohlgemuth says:

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

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

Information on live streams for SUISA members

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

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

The revised copyright law has come into force

The coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article 39d CopA); moreover, rightholders may process personal data insofar as this is essential for the purpose of criminal prosecution (Article 77i CopA).

Certain measures are designed to improve collective rights management:
Users must provide the collective rights management organisations with the necessary information in an electronic form allowing for automatic data processing (Article 51(1) CopA); collective rights management organisations are entitled to exchange the information provided by users with one another (Article 51(1bis) CopA); accelerated procedure for tariff appeals before the Federal Administrative Court (Article 74(2) CopA); and the Federal Arbitration Commission responsible for approving tariffs is now entitled to hear witnesses (see new Article 14(1)(h) of the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).

Lastly, the notion of an “extended collective licence” has been introduced into Swiss law (Article 43a CopA):
Collecting societies can now grant a blanket authorisation for certain uses, even for rightholders they do not represent contractually; this enhances the legal certainty for users and secures additional remuneration for rightholders. This option applies to uses which cannot be individually controlled by rightholders; collecting societies would act as an “insurance” (of a sort) for users. This is a welcome innovation (already applied in Scandinavian countries) which underscores the role of “facilitator” often played by collective rights management organisations.

SUISA accompanied the entire legislative process. Not all these innovations are spectacular. But we believe that, globally, they will facilitate the performance of our mission in the service of rightholders.

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  1. Eva David says:

    Merci aux mandataires de Suisa dont le travail patient et tenace a permis d’aboutir à cette solution satisfaisante.

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 coronavirus pandemic has naturally eclipsed this event. Yet the amended Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020 after the Pirate Party failed its attempt to launch a popular referendum. Text by Vincent Salvadé

The revised copyright law has come into force

The updated Federal Copyright Act came into force on 1 April 2020. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

This concluded the efforts of ten years’ work. The revision was initiated in 2010 when State Concillor Geraldine Savary, who subsequently joined SUISA’s Board, filed a postulate titled “Does Switzerland need a law against unlawful downloading of music?”

How will the new law affect SUISA’s activity? The following points are noteworthy:

The law introduces new anti-piracy measures:
Under certain conditions, hosting platforms are henceforth obliged to durably prevent unlawful content from being remade available through the use of their services (stay down obligation, Article...read more

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. Rolf Hug says:

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

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.

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

Penny-pinching in digital music distribution

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

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

Brave new world

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

Brave new world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brave new world

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

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

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The last differences between the National Council and the Council of States were eliminated on 16 September 2019 and the bill was adopted in a final vote at the end of the autumn parliamentary session. A long process has thus come to an end, with a satisfactory outcome for music authors and publishers.

A compromise and intense debates

A short look back: in 2012, Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga created the working group AGUR12 which was instructed to prepare proposals for the revision of the Federal Copyright Act. Representing all stakeholders (authors, users of works, consumers, etc.), AGUR12 made a series of proposals, embodied in a compromise solution at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, the bill submitted by the Federal Council in 2015 deviated from this compromise solution.

In the face of the heavy criticism expressed during the consultation procedure, the Federal Council reversed its position and submitted a new bill to Parliament at the end of 2017, this time based entirely on the AGUR12 compromise. After intense debate, both Houses finally decided to espouse the compromise, even if that meant deferring consideration of a number of new issues (such as the protection of press publishers and journalists).

SUISA actively involved in the revision

SUISA accompanied the legislative process throughout the entire seven years. Firstly, by participating actively in the work of AGUR12 as part of the Suisseculture delegation. And then, by informing Members of Parliament during committee hearings, and through letters, position papers and argumentation.

With what outcome? Overall, copyright protection has been increased and modernised thanks to new anti-piracy measures and improvements in rights management in particular. No doubt one could have gone further on certain points. But a compromise is a compromise …

Finish one revision, start the next

It would be wrong to lower our guard. The “Pirate Party” has now launched a referendum against the revised Copyright Act. Moreover, the last question debated in Parliament was whether hotels which offer their guests the means to watch television, play films and listen to music in their rooms should be exempted from their obligations towards authors. The National Council eventually shelved this idea, but the debate shows that creators’ vested rights are regularly subject to attack. We must ensure we avoid … a re-revision of the revision of the law to the detriment of authors and publishers! Everything is an eternal recurrence …

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On 27 September 2019, both the National Council and the Council of States at last held a final vote approving the partial revision of the Swiss Federal Copyright Act, ending a process initiated in 2010 with a postulate by Géraldine Savary. It is now for the Federal Council to determine when the modernised Copyright Act will come into force – unless a referendum is successful. By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO

Switzerland finally has a new copyright law!

On 16 September 2019, the National Council finally agreed to remove from the bill the disputed exception for the reception of radio and TV broadcasts in hotel rooms. This cleared the way for the two Houses to approve the revision on 27 September 2019. (Photo: Parliament Services, 3003 Bern)

At long last! The revised Copyright Act has been signed, sealed and delivered. The...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.

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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

Everyone come and join us at our General Assembly in Biel/Bienne

Dear members, on 21 June 2019, it’s that time of the year again. At our General Assembly, you will have the opportunity to contact the executives of your cooperative society SUISA and to co-determine the future of your collective management organisation. On that day, we hope that we see a lot of you in Biel/Bienne. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Everyone come and join us at our General Assembly in Biel/Bienne

Co-determine the future of your collective management organisation and find out about your cooperative society’s news first hand when you attend the SUISA General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

At the upcoming General Assembly, two new Board members need to be elected and – for the first time in SUISA’s history – consolidated financial statements need to be approved. SUISA applied new structures for itself with a view to the digital age where listening to recorded music via the internet constantly gains importance. On the one hand, the parent company is involved in a joint venture with the US-American society SESAC, on the other hand, online licences are now issued on a global basis via a subsidiary company called SUISA Digital Licensing, based in Liechtenstein.

Be informed first hand when it comes to the latest developments in copyright legislation. Both at European as well at Swiss levels, there is a lot in motion. The European legislative proposal has, above all, 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.

What really is happening with respect to the protection of authors and their works during the exchange on the global internet marketplace is featured on our SUISAblog for you to read, and you can also hear about it first hand at our General Assembly, among others from Géraldine Savary, member of the Swiss Council of States.

Our FONDATION SUISA, the foundation for Swiss music, has also chosen to follow new paths: Instead of granting awards to musicians that are already known, start-up funding is intended to ensure that more new music projects are brought into the limelight. I hope you have a rewarding reading on our SUISAblog and would be very pleased to personally welcome you on Friday, 21 June 2019 at our General Assembly in Biel/Bienne.

Click here for the registration form of the General Assembly.

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  1. Gerhard Hählen says:

    Wie kommt man zu einem Anmeldeformular für die GV und mit Programm der GV? Seit ich die digitale Version der Kommunikation angemeldet habe, kriege ich kein Anmeldeformular für die GV mehr?!?

  2. E.Rick Sommer says:

    Liebe SUISA am 21. Juni ist die GV in Biel könnten Sie vielleicht die Uhrzeit angeben wann beginnt die GV
    mit Freundlichen Gruss Rick

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.

Dear members, on 21 June 2019, it’s that time of the year again. At our General Assembly, you will have the opportunity to contact the executives of your cooperative society SUISA and to co-determine the future of your collective management organisation. On that day, we hope that we see a lot of you in Biel/Bienne. By Andreas Wegelin, CEO

Everyone come and join us at our General Assembly in Biel/Bienne

Co-determine the future of your collective management organisation and find out about your cooperative society’s news first hand when you attend the SUISA General Assembly. (Photo: Sibylle Roth)

At the upcoming General Assembly, two new Board members need to be elected and – for the first time in SUISA’s history – consolidated financial statements need to be approved. SUISA applied new structures for itself with a view to the digital age where listening to...read more

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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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
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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

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

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

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

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

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

SUISA Digital’s responsibilities

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

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

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

Joint licences

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

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

The negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distribution

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

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

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

Outlook

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

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  1. Walter Thut says:

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

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

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

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

    Was stimmt hier nicht?

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.

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

The first year of SUISA Digital Licensing AG

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

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