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The fight for the copyright review gets tougher
SUISA continues the fight for copyright and is getting ready for the digital future at the same time: Together with the US-American collective management organisation, SESAC, it founded Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture issuing online licences.
Photo: ScandinavianStock / Shutterstock
By Vincent Salvadé, Deputy CEO
Dear members, the Swiss Federal Council launched the consultation for a draft to review copyright in December 2015. The draft followed the recommendations by AGUR12. However, further proposals were added from the administration and as a result of parliamentary initiatives.

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

Copyright review: The devil is in the detail

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

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

Cooperation with the American organisation SESAC

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

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

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

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