Questions and answers

General principles of music copyright law

  • The Federal Law  of 9 October 1992 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights (the Copyright Law) is the legal reference basis for SUISA's activities. The Copyright Law regulates the rights of authors, performers, record producers and broadcasting companies in their works and services and stipulates the duties of the collective administration societies. The Copyright Law also defines fundamental terms such as “work” or  “author”, and specifies what rights an author has in his works. The Law also places limits on copyright protection.

    Pursuant to the Copyright Law, the author is the owner of his work. An author's work can only be published, reproduced, performed in public, broadcast or otherwise disseminated with his consent. In exchange, the author is entitled to remuneration.

  • The Copyright Act protects all musical works of an original nature created by individuals. Apart from music, other acoustic works of an original nature, characterised by the use of sounds and not notes, are protected. All these works are protected regardless of their value or purpose. A symphony and a radio jingle enjoy equal protection under the Copyright Act. SUISA only manages what are known as “small rights”, i.e. the rights to non theatrical music. This includes:

    • non theatrical musical works, with or without lyrics, including oratorios;
    • concert versions of theatrical (dramatic) musical works;
    • dance musical works which can be used without dance;
    • excerpts from theatrical musical works which do not comprise a complete act and are not longer than 25 minutes in the case of a radio broadcast, or 15 minutes in the case of a television broadcast.
    • musical works in films or other audiovisual or multimedia works (except in the case of films of dramatic musical works).

    SUISA is responsible for performance, broadcasting and retransmission rights, public broadcasting rights, the right to make music available (online rights), mechanical rights (i.e. the production of sound and audiovisual recordings, including audiofiles) and blank carrier and rental rights.

  • The following reference books deal with copyright law:

    in German:

    Reto M. Hilty: Urheberrecht, Bern 2011 (ISBN 978-3-7272-8660-5).
    This reference book does not only deal with music copyrights, it provides a general systemic overview and discusses current trends in copyright law.

    Denis Barrelet, Willi Egloff: Das neue Urheberrecht, Kommentar zum Bundesgesetz über das Urheberrecht und die verwandten Schutzrechte, 3rd completely revised and supplemented edition, Bern 2008 (ISBN 978-3-7272-9563-8).
    This publication is an expert commentary on the Copyright Law. A separate section is devoted to each individual article of the Copyright Law.

    Barbara K. Müller, Reinhard Oertli: Urheberrechtsgesetz (URG), 2nd edition, Bern 2012 (ISBN 978-3-7272-2553-6).
    This 900-page commentary contains comprehensive explanations about Swiss Copyright Law with short references to the corresponding rules and regulations in German and European copyright law. A separate section is devoted to each article of the Copyright Law.

    Manfred Rehbinder, Adriano Vigano: URG Kommentar, 3rd completely revised edition, Zurich 2008 (ISBN 978-3-280-07143-4).
    In addition to a short commentary on the Federal Copyright Law, this publication contains many other national and international rules and regulations of relevance to copyright law (URV, RBÜ, TRIPS, WIPO Treaties, EU Directives, etc.). The annexes contain the Articles of Association and sample rights administration agreements of the Swiss collective administration societies.

    Roland von Büren, Lucas David (Hrsg.): Schweizerisches Immaterialgüter- und Wettbewerbsrecht, 1. Band, Teil 2, Urheberrecht (Volume 1, Part 2, Copyright Law) 2nd edition, Basel/Genf/Munich 2006 (ISBN 3-7190-2294-3), 3rd edition forthcoming (ISBN 978-3-7190-3178-7).
    700 pages of contributions from various authors provide comprehensive information about copyright law, publishing contracts and the legislation governing the copyright administration societies.

    Kamen Troller: Grundzüge des schweizerischen Immaterialgüterrechts, 2nd revised edition, Basel 2005 (ISBN 978-3-7190-2357-7).
    In addition to copyright law, this book deals with patent law, design copyrights, computer law, trademark law and unfair competition.

    Roland von Büren, Eugen Marbach, Patrik Ducrey: Immaterialgüter- und Wettbewerbsrecht, 3rd edition, Bern 2008 (ISBN 978-3-7272-0819-5).
    In 500 pages, this textbook presents a comprehensive overview of intellectual property and unfair competition law (patent law, copyright law, trademark and design law, anti-trsut and unfair competition law).
     

    in French:

    Jacques de Werra, Philippe Gilliéron (Ed.): Commentaire romand, Propriété intellectuelle, 1st edition, Basel 2013 (ISBN 978-3-7190-2853-4).
    This 2500 page volume contains a commentary of Switzerland's entire copyright, trademark, design and patent law.

    Dessemontet François: Le droit d'auteur, Lausanne 1999 (ISBN 2-8819-7038-9).
    In over 1000 pages including the annexes, this book provides a multitude of practical examples with special regard to the author's role in the field of new technologies - based on the 1999 status, however.

    Denis Barrelet, Willi Egloff: Le nouveau droit d'auteur, Commentaire de la loi fédérale sur le droit d'auteur et les droits voisins, 3rd edition, Berne 2008 (ISBN 978-3-7272-9564-5).
    This publication is an expert commentary. A separate section is devoted to each individual article of the Copyright Law.

    Kamen Troller: Précis du droit suisse des biens immatériels, 2nd edition, Bâle 2006 (ISBN 978-3-7190-2358-4).
    In addition to copyright law, this book deals with patent law, design copyrights, computer law, trademark law and unfair competition.

  • in German:

    2003 Poto Wegener: „musik & recht – Schweizer Handbuch für Musikschaffende“  (Music & the Law – The Swiss Handbook for Music Creators), unchanged 2nd edition, 2004  (ISBN 978-3-9809540-2-0).

    The book explores the following themes in 500 pages: copyright law, rights management law (SUISA and SWISSPERFORM), recording industry, sound recording agreements, publishing, sampling and remix, music and the Internet, contract law, intra-group agreements and organisation structures, concert contracts, management and booking, protection of group names, noise protection and social insurance. Although some sections are no longer entirely up to date, this book is a complete and competent guide with detailed explanations on a dozen sample contracts.

    Robert Lyng, Heinz Oliver, Michael von Rothkirch: Die neue Praxis im Musikbusiness, 12th edition, 2013 (ISBN 978-3-95512-059-7).

    A standard reference work for anyone who wants to know how the music industry works. The key players of the music industry are presented in 18 chapters. Precious practical tips for music professionals on everything from starting a band to hitting the top of the charts. The book covers copyright law basics as well as the art of negotiating contracts. Comprehensive annexes with commented contracts complete the book. Since the book is based on the German legal framework, not all information can be applied 1:1 to Switzerland.

    Rolf Moser, Andreas Scheuermann (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Musikwirtschaft, 7th edition, 2018 (ISBN 978-3-7808-0188-3).

    This 1500 page volume discusses all music production-related issues in great depth and detail - a more comprehensive presentation of the subject matter is hardly conceivable. Since the book is based on the German legal framework, not all information can be applied 1:1 to Switzerland.

    Donald S. Passman, Wolfram Herrmann: Alles, was Sie über das Musikbusiness wissen müssen, 2nd edition, 2011 (ISBN 978-3-7910-2987-0).

    An expert adaptation by Wolfram Herrmann of US lawyer Donald S. Passman's bestseller to the German, Austrian and Swiss music industry. The two insiders reveal their comprehensive expert knowledge in a sound and intelligible guide.

    in French:

    Guy Haumont, Eric Haumont: Le Droit des musiciens, Guide pratique, 2nd edition, 2002 (ISBN: 978-2911433160).

    A clear and complete overview of law and practice in the music industry with an international focus; no longer entirely up to date.

Membership as authors

  • According to our Articles of Association, to join SUISA you must satisfy one of the following conditions:

    • you must be the author or the arranger of a musical work;
    • you must be a lyricist, arranger or translator of a musical work, or
    • you must be heir or legal successor to an author of musical works.

    You can complete the application form directly on our website, or contact us at one of the following addresses:

    German-speaking Switzerland
    SUISA, Bellariastrasse 82, Postfach 782, CH-8038 Zurich
    Phone +41 44 485 66 66, Fax + 41 44 482 43 33, email

    French-speaking Switzerland
    SUISA, Avenue du Grammont 11bis, 1007 Lausanne
    Phone +41 21 614 32 32, Fax +41 21 614 32 42, email

    Ticino
    SUISA, Via Soldino, 6900 Lugano
    Phone +41 91 950 08 28, Fax +41 91 950 08 29, email

    Once you have signed the rights administration agreement and paid the entry fee, you qualify as an associate member of SUISA.
    Bear in mind that joining SUISA only makes sense if your works are already performed in public or will be so in the near future. Only then can SUISA claim your royalties and remit the proceeds to you.

    You can become an ordinary member, with full voting and election rights, once you have been an associate member for at least one year and have received a total of at least CHF 3,000 in royalties during that time.

  • To join SUISA, you pay a one-time entry fee of CHF 200 (including VAT). There is no additional yearly membership fee.

    SUISA’s administrative costs for rights management are financed by a cost-coverage deduction charged to domestic (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) and foreign royalty income. The cost coverage deduction on foreign income is 4%; the cost coverage deduction charged on income from Switzerland and Liechtenstein is set each year.

  • From the moment they are created, musical compositions and lyrics are automatically protected by copyright as original literary and artistic works. Authors' rights are enshrined in the law; in Switzerland they are valid for 70 years after the author's death. Only the author is entitled to decide if and how his works are used. This also applies to arrangements, which can only be made with the author's permission. Authors are entitled to remuneration for the use of their works. The Copyright Act therefore refers to rights of use (see Article 10). If a work is performed in public, for example, or broadcast or reproduced - i.e. used - the lyricist, composer and publisher of that work are entitled to a royalty (licence fee). Authors can grant their own licences and collect their own royalties. But they can also entrust the management of their rights to a collective administration society.

  • Performing artists are singers or instrumentalists who perform or record a composition, for example. If the performing artist is also an author, naturally he or she can become a member of SUISA.

    Performing artists who are not authors cannot join SUISA: performers' rights are managed by SWISSPERFORM.

  • Yes. Authors who are not members of SUISA can manage their own rights and negotiate royalties directly with users. Individual rights management is complicated, however, and extremely costly in terms of time and effort. For example, how can an author know when one of his works is played on the radio - here or world-wide? Mass uses, on the internet in particular, make individual rights management even more difficult, if not impossible.

  • The concession of the Swiss radio broadcasting company (SRG) stipulates that Swiss music must be reasonably represented in the company’s broadcasts. But the term ”reasonably” is not defined. Like for films, SRG regulated its co-operation with the music industry in the Charta of Swiss Music signed with industry representatives in 2004. Its purpose is to promote the renown of Swiss music and to foster musical talent. In the Charta, SRG has undertaken to broadcast a reasonable proportion of Swiss productions in its radio programmes. Swiss music is understood as meaning sound recordings or live broadcasts of Swiss composers, performing artists or producers and recordings with decisive Swiss participation. SRG's partners establish annual guidelines for the share of Swiss music in SRG's programming. In recent years, SRG not only met, but exceeded the guideline. According to the Charta, the domestic repertoire must correspond to at least 20% of programming content.

  • SUISA does not publish scores or sound recordings, nor does it sell any. SUISA is always pleased to provide information on Swiss works (composers, authors and publishers) and can tell you where you can buy their scores and CDs.

    For an overview of the works of Swiss composers, we invite you to visit SUISA's online database at the following link: https://sso.suisa.ch/wdb/phx/process/Portal

    Our music department will be happy to assist you with any further inquiries (available scores, search by musicians, etc.) E-Mail Music Department

  • Yes, as a rule: SUISA has concluded reciprocity agreements with over 100 foreign sister societies. Through these reciprocity agreements, SUISA represents the members of its sister societies in Switzerland and its sister societies represent SUISA’s members abroad. If the work of a Swiss author who is a member of SUISA is performed at a concert abroad, for example,  the local organiser must pay the corresponding royalties to the society in that country. The latter will remit the royalties to SUISA who will pass them on to the Swiss author. 

    It can happen that a sister society fails to record and settle a use abroad. That is why we recommend that you inform us as soon as you become musically active abroad. In order to follow up with our foreign sister societies, we need the following information:

    Concerts

    • date and place (city, country, name of theatre, club or other venue)
    • organiser’s name and address (if known)
    • all works performed (list)
    • printed programme (if available)

    Broadcasts

    • date of broadcast
    • name of radio or television station
    • name of program (if known)
    • all works broadcast (list)

    Sound recordings

    • publication date
    • name of label or producer
    • catalogue number
    • name of sound recording and artist
    • all works on the recording

    "Application form for foreign performances & broadcastings" email to: intdistribution@suisa.ch
     

  • SUISA manages the rights to non-theatrical music: it does not manage any rights to theatrical musical works. Theatrical musical works are works with a plot portrayed by persons playing set roles which rely on music to such an extent that they cannot generally be performed or broadcast without it (for example, musicals, operas, operettas and ballets). All other musical works are non theatrical musical works and SUISA manages the corresponding rights (known as "small rights").

    The rights to theatrical (dramatic) musical works are managed directly by the author, by his publisher or by SSA (these are known as "grand rights").

    SUISA manages the following authors' rights ("small rights") in works:

    • non theatrical musical works, with or without lyrics, including oratorios;
    • concert versions of theatrical (dramatic) musical works;
    • dance musical works which can be used without dance;
    • excerpts from theatrical musical works which do not comprise a complete act and are not longer than 25 minutes in the case of a radio broadcast, or 15 minutes in the case of a television broadcast.
    • musical works in films or other audiovisual or multimedia works (except in the case of films of dramatic musical works). 
  • In conjunction with the General Terms and Conditions, the Rights Administration Agreement (RAA) is the most important tie between SUISA and its members; it constitutes the foundation for SUISA's rights management. By signing a rights administration agreement, members instruct SUISA to manage important copyright assets in Switzerland and abroad (via sister societies) on a fiduciary basis for their account. SUISA is thus empowered to claim royalties from the users and to distribute them to its members (rightholders).

    For detailed information on the rights administration agreement, please see the “Explanatory note on the rights administration agreement”.

  • No. You can regulate the use of your music with your publisher at your discretion. However, as regards the publisher's share of the royalties, you must respect the limits set in the Distribution Regulations. SUISA treats all rights on an equal footing, making no distinction between those assigned directly by the author and those assigned indirectly through a publisher.

  • Yes. However, foreign collective administration societies cannot operate in Switzerland or Liechtenstein. If a reciprocity agreement has been signed with SUISA, SUISA represents them here. If you join a foreign society, SUISA will represent your rights in Switzerland and Liechtenstein and will transfer your royalty entitlements to the foreign society which will then pass them on to you.

  • SWISSPERFORM manages the rights that performing artists, producers and broadcasters have in their own performances and services. In this case, it is not a matter of protecting the works themselves (compositions), but of protecting services allowing the works to be represented, perceived and distributed. In copyright law, this group of rights is referred to as "neighbouring rights". SWISSPERFORM asserts the claims of rightholders of neighbouring rights arising from secondary uses of their services (e.g. radio broadcasts of commercially available sound recordings).

Membership for publishers

  • To join SUISA as a publisher you must show that you already work as an original publisher or sub-publisher. Once you have concluded publishing contracts with authors or other publishers, you may apply for membership. Your application must include

    • a duly completed application form;
    • a copy of the extract from the commercial register (mentioning the publishing activity) or, for firms that are not registered, an equivalent document for your firm;
    • declarations for the works published by your firm, accompanied by the relevant publishing contracts and supporting documents.

    To join SUISA, you pay a one-time entry fee of CHF 400 (including VAT).

    Once you have signed the rights administration agreement for publishers and paid the entry fee, you qualify as an associate member of SUISA. After a period of at least one year, and provided you have earned the minimum amount of royalties set by SUISA's Board, you become a full member. Membership entitles you to vote at, and be elected by, the General Meeting. 

  • The most suitable legal form for a publishing house depends mainly on the type and scope of your planned publishing activities.  The following legal forms may be suitable depending on the circumstances:

    • One-man firm 
      Suitable for activities conducted on a small scale by one person; simple and inexpensive; registration with the commercial register is mandatory as of CHF 100,000 in turnover. Disadvantage: liability extends to all assets – personal assets included. 
       
    • General partnership (Kollektivgesellschaft)
      Suitable for small publishing houses whose partners are willing to fully commit themselves, their work and their assets.  Registration with the commercial register is compulsory and it is advisable to conclude a partnership agreement. Disadvantage: the liability of each partner extends to all his assets – personal assets included. 
       
    • Limited liability company (GmbH/Sàrl))
      Suitable for small- and medium-sized undertakings; CHF 20,000 minimum capital requirement. Registration with the commercial register is compulsory; a public notary is needed for the incorporation of the company. Advantage:  liability is limited to the company’s share capital.
       
    • Public limited company (AG/SA)
      Suitable for large and medium-sized publishing houses; minimum share capital requirement CHF 100,000. Registration with the commercial register is compulsory; a public notary is needed for the incorporation of the company, and the tax rate is higher. Advantage:  liability is limited to the company’s share capital.

    Ordinary partnerships do not have their own legal identity and cannot therefore be members of a cooperative society.

    Further information is available from a notary or the commercial register or at the following website www.gruenden.ch

  • Firstly, the provisions of the Civil Code on the formation of companies must be observed (Article 944); the rules vary depending on the legal form of the company. Care must be taken to avoid a name which is liable to be confused with that of another company. We therefore recommend that you check with SUISA's publisher division before you make your final choice. E-Mail

    Companies are protected by corporate law as soon as they are entered in the commercial register. Moreover, the law protects anyone against unfair competition if he can show he was first to use a name. It is also advisable to file the name as a brand name with the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property – for Switzerland at least, and maybe even internationally.

    Link IGE

  • Publishers and authors (composers, lyricists and arrangers) sign an original publishing agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, the publisher undertakes to artistically and economically exploit the works transferred to him, at his own cost and risk. In particular, this involves

    • producing and distributing scores of the work (own publishing rights);
    • finding a record company to distribute recordings of the work;
    • finding a producer to use the work for a film;
    • advertising on radio stations
    • finding an artist to record the work; or
    • finding a musician to arrange the work.

    In other words, the publisher of a work is the manager of the work. A publisher is not a record company. The publisher has to find a record company to produce and release the work. For economic reasons, however, many record companies have their own publishing departments and can handle both sides of the business.

  • For rights’ management purposes, a distinction is made between the following types of contracts:

    • (original) publishing agreements
    • co-publishing agreements
    • sub-publishing agreements
  • An original publishing agreement is an agreement concluded between a publisher and an author (i.e. a composer, lyricist or arranger). By this agreement, the author entrusts his works to the publisher for publication, granting him the necessary rights for that purpose. In exchange, the publisher undertakes to distribute the work within a reasonable period and to remunerate the author. Such agreements are generally concluded for an indefinite duration expiring at the end of the copyright protection period, i.e. 70 years after the author's death. SUISA only recognises publishing agreements with a term of at least 3 years.

    In practice, a distinction is made between two kinds of publishing agreement: on the one hand, the normal publishing agreement, known as a "Specified Agreement", which only applies to the work specified in the agreement; and on the other, the publishing agreement known as a "General Agreement" (or author's exclusive agreement), covering all an author's works, including those he has yet to create.

    Music publishing – also an art

    Link to specimen agreement

    Original publishing agreements must contain and regulate the following points at least:

    a) Name and address of the contractual partners

    b) Title of the work, name of all authors 
    As a rule, agreements cover one or more works, for example all the titles on an album (Specified Agreement). All the participants in a work must be clearly named in the agreement or in an annex to the agreement. The agreement or the annex must contain the following indications:

    • title of the work
    • full names of all composers
    • full names of all lyricists
    • full names of all arrangers

    c) Transfer of rights
    Under a publishing agreement, the author usually grants the following rights to the publisher:

    • Graphical rights: the publisher has the right to publish the work as a score, or to print the lyrics.
    • SUISA rights: these are the rights which the author has assigned to SUISA under the rights administration agreement; they include performance and broadcasting rights and mechanical rights. They are therefore transferred to the publisher for “joint administration” with SUISA.
    • Other usage rights: these are all the rights that qualify neither as graphical rights nor as SUISA rights, namely and in particular, arrangement rights, the right to use the work for advertising purposes, and synchronisation rights. In other words, a publisher may authorise a third party to arrange the work, use it for advertising purposes, or use it in combination with another work (e.g. for a film) against payment.

    d) Obligations of the publisher 
    In a publishing agreement, the publisher usually assumes the following obligations:

    • obligation to publish
    • commitment to the work during the term of the contract
    • to always publish the work with the authors’ name
    • obligation to inform

    e) Remuneration
    The revenues from the exploitation of a work are generally apportioned as follows:

    • Graphic rights or publishing rights: the author receives between 10% and 15% of the retail price.
    •  SUISA rights: distributed by SUISA in accordance with the regulatory distribution key. As a rule, the regulatory distribution key is:
      • Mechanical rights: the publisher receives 40%; this percentage increases to 50% if the publisher assumes the sound (and audiovisual) recording production costs. The author thus receives a share of 60% or 50%, as the case may be.
      • Performance and broadcasting rights: the publisher receives 35% and the author 65%. The publisher also receives a share of the royalties when the work is performed in concert or broadcast on the radio.
      • Other usage rights: the income from other uses, such as advertising, is generally split equally between the publisher and the author.

    f) Duration
    The contractual term is the period of time during which the publisher is entitled to exploit the assigned rights in the work. The contractual parties may set the contractual term at their discretion. Publishing agreements are often concluded for the "legal term of copyright protection", namely for 70 years from the date of the (last surviving) author’s death. That is the maximum legal duration. Three years is the minimum term set by SUISA.

    g) Contractual territory 
    Publishing rights may be granted for the whole world, or rights may be assigned only for a specific territory. The publisher must manage the assigned rights for the whole of the contractual territory. But since many publishers do not have foreign branches, they usually entrust the foreign rights to sub-publishers in the different countries. Since in that case a third party is entitled to a share of the publishing income, the author’s share is reduced.

    h) Bankruptcy clause
    Every publishing agreement should contain the following clause: “If insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings are initiated by or against the publisher, if he liquidates his business or if he is otherwise incapable of paying his debts, this agreement shall immediately terminate and all rights granted to the publisher hereunder shall automatically revert to the author.”

    i) Place, date and signature of all contractual partners

  • A co-publishing agreement is a contract concluded between two or more publishing houses covering works co-authored by several authors who are contractually tied to different publishing houses.  Co-publishing agreements regulate how the publishing duties are divided between the participating publishers. One publisher may handle the production of sound recordings, for example, while the other may print and distribute the scores.

  • A sub-publishing agreement is a contract regulating the relationship between the original publisher and the sub-publisher who is granted sub-publishing rights in one or more works for a specific territory. SUISA requires sub-publishing agreements to have a minimum duration of three years. Such agreements may be extended at maturity. 

    With regard to mechanical rights, the agreement must specify which basis is used for calculating the sub-publisher's share:

    • production: the sub-publisher is entitled to a participation in respect of all sound recordings produced in the contractual territory, regardless the country of sale, or
    • sale: the sub-publisher is entitled to a participation in respect of all sound recordings sold in the contractual territory, regardless where they were produced.

    The transfer of rights to foreign sub-publishers and the assumption of sub-publishing rights by Swiss publishers must be communicated to SUISA by means of a declaration of works; a copy of the sub-publishing agreement must in any event be attached to the declaration of works.

    In practice, a distinction is made between two kinds of sub-publishing agreement: firstly, the normal sub-publishing agreement which only applies to the works explicitly specified therein (Specified Agreement, also known as an option agreement); and secondly, sub-publishing agreements which are not limited to the works already published at the execution date but also cover works which may be subsequently acquired for publication (General Agreement).


    Link to specimen agreement

    Sub-Publishing Agreement Advice Form

    Online application

  • SUISA's distribution rules regulate the effective timing of the transfer of sub-publishing rights from one publisher to another. The provisions concerned are set forth in section 1.1.3.6 (paragraphs 5 to 8) of the Distribution Rules. The start date of a sub-publishing agreement is determined as follows:

    • the effective date indicated in the agreement is applicable;
    • if none is specified, the applicable date is the date the agreement was signed by both parties;
    • if the agreement does not contain a date 


    The end date of the sub-publishing agreement is determined as follows:

    • the end date of the sub-publishing agreement indicated in the agreement is applicable;
    • if the agreement does not specify the end date, the end date of the sub-publishing agreement is determined based on the start date of the sub-publishing agreement in accordance with paragraph 5 and the indicated exploitation term.

Declaration of Works

  • Under the Copyright Act, a work is automatically protected from the moment it is created, even if it is not registered. Nevertheless, it is advisable to document authorship as clearly as possible. This will enable you to establish your rights in case of dispute. The following steps can facilitate proof:

    • SUISA members declare their works to SUISA; 
    • SUISA members and non-members should send themselves a recording of the work or the score by mail. The letter or package should be registered; on no account should you open it.
    • Deposit copies of works with specialised institutions.
    • The digital deposit of audiofiles or PDFs on Cloud memories with bank-like standards (e.g. on Procloud: the date and time of uploading on this type of secured server can also serve as proof).

    These steps are not indispensable for the protection of your works but they will make it easier to establish proof of authorship in the event the author of a work and the date of creation are disputed. 

    File Declaration of Works

  • When a person takes someone else's work and releases it as his own (with or without changes), he is guilty of plagiarism. You cannot prevent the theft of intellectual property. But you can take steps to prove your authorship conclusively in the event of a dispute:

    • SUISA members declare their works to SUISA; 
    • SUISA members and non-members should send themselves a recording of the work or the score by mail. The letter or package should be registered; on no account should you open it.
    • Deposit copies of works with specialised institutions.
    • The digital deposit of audiofiles or PDFs on Cloud memories with bank-like standards (e.g. on Procloud: the date and time of uploading on this type of secured server can also serve as proof).
  • Complete information on the procedure for declaring your works is available under the following link. Please note that only members and associate members can file declarations of works with SUISA.

    Link: How to register a work 

    File: Declaration of Works

  • SUISA manages the rights to non-theatrical music: it does not manage any rights to theatrical musical works. Theatrical musical works are works with a plot portrayed by persons playing set roles which rely on music to such an extent that they cannot generally be performed or broadcast without it; examples of such works are musicals, operas, operettas and narrative ballets. All other musical works are non-theatrical musical works and SUISA manages the corresponding rights. Musical works contained in films or other audiovisual or multimedia works do not qualify as theatrical musical works except in the case of films of theatrical musical works.

    Other non-theatrical musical works are:

    • musical works for dance works which can be used without dance;
    • concert versions of theatrical musical works; and
    • excerpts from theatrical musical works which do not comprise a complete act and are not longer than 25 minutes in the case of a radio broadcast, or 15 minutes in the case of a television broadcast.

    The rights to theatrical musical works are managed directly by the author, his publisher or by the SSA.
     

  • The rights administration agreement concluded between you, as the author, and SUISA covers all the works created by you without exception. “A la carte” representation is not possible. Accordingly, you have to declare all your works.

    You can, however, exclude certain groups of rights and certain countries from the rights administration agreement - these exclusions apply equally to all your works.

  • As a rule, you should fill in a separate declaration form for each work. But if the same persons co-authored several works and all the indications are identical, then a single declaration form with a list of all individual titles will be sufficient.

    Link: How to register a work

    Declaration of Works

  • The title on the declaration of works must be identical to that on the sound recording and performance declarations. Different spellings may hinder proper identification, preventing SUISA from distributing the royalties.

  • For published works, in addition to the declaration of works form, SUISA needs to have the publishing or sub-publishing agreement.

    If you declare an arrangement of a copyrighted work, SUISA needs the consent of the publisher or composer of the original work. To set a protected text to music, you need the publisher's written approval or that of the poet or his/her heirs. Failing such consent, SUISA cannot register the arrangement or setting to music.

    If you declare the arrangement of a non-protected work, you have to send in the master so that SUISA can establish its copyrightability. This applies to works whose author has been dead for 70 years or more, or whose author is unknown, as well as to popular works regarded as traditional folklore.

    SUISA may require you to provide a sample copy in a given format with your declarations of works.

  • The names of all authors (composers, writers of lyrics, arrangers, sub-titlers etc.) who participated in a work must be specified on the form (one under the other, not one next to the other please). All participants must sign the form. If a signature is missing, SUISA will send the form back with a reminder.

    In the case of published works, the publisher’s signature is sufficient provided the publishing agreement has been signed by all the participating parties. The consent of all the authors involved (including the authors of any arrangements) is evidenced in the publishing agreement which must be attached. If the publishing agreement is not signed by all the participating parties, the authors whose contributions are not published must also sign the declaration of works.

  • The "Distribution Key" section is generally filled in by SUISA in accordance with the current Distribution Rules unless participants have agreed to a different distribution key. In that case, the authors should fill in the agreed percentages, which must comply with the Distribution Rules

  • Yes. Information and access to online declaration of works: www.suisa.ch/de/mein-konto/

    The following works cannot be registered online and must continue to be declared using the printed form:

    • works created for the sound track of an audiovisual production
    • arrangements of free (i.e. not protected by copyright) original works
    • literary works (texts without music)

    Link: Declaration of Works 

  • In Switzerland, a musical work is protected by copyright up to 70 years after the author’s death. If several persons co-authored a musical work, the 70-year term starts running from the death of the author who dies the last.

  • Yes. Every composer, lyricist or arranger is free to use one or more pseudonyms. Pseudonyms are subject to professional secrecy.

    However, pseudonyms can lead to confusion with other authors' names. Therefore, we recommend that, before selecting a pseudonym, you consult SUISA to verify that your choice of name or a similar name is not already in use. 
     

  • The two declarations serve different purposes: the sound recording declaration filed by the record producer is necessary to obtain a sound recording production licence from SUISA. It is an application for a licence.

    The declaration of works filed by an author and/or a publisher enables SUISA to register the musical work and the participating authors and publishers: without a declaration of musical works, SUISA cannot pay royalties.

    NB: A sound recording declaration does not replace the individual declarations of works.

  • No. The standard repertoire is a list of the musical works that you perform regularly. SUISA needs these lists to distribute the remuneration paid by the organiser to the rightholders. Titles of your own composition must be filed separately with SUISA by means of a declaration of musical works.

    If you perform regularly as a musician and always play titles from the same repertoire, then you can ask SUISA for a standard repertoire card so that you do not have to fill in a programme form for each show.
     

Arrangements, Sampling, Remix and Cover versions

  • An arrangement is when a new protected work is created from an existing work whereby the original character of the latter remains recognisable. Typical examples of arrangements are works orchestrated for different instruments, or lyrics translated into another language. The arrangement is independently protected by its own copyright.

    The following modifications do not qualify as arrangements:

    • addition of dynamic or agogic signs
    • addition of phrasing signs
    • fingering entries
    • registrations for organs or other keyboard instruments
    • flourishes
    • translation of old notation into the current notation system
    • correction of writing mistakes in the original and similar corrections
    • transfer into other keys or pitches (transpositions)
    • omission of individual voices
    • exchange or doubling of voices
    • addition of purely parallel voices
    • allocation of existing voices to other instruments (simple transcription).

    Distribution Rules (Article 1.1.3.5)

  • Musical works which are not protected by copyright can be freely arranged and altered - no permission is required. But if a work is protected by copyright, the rightholder(s) must consent to its arrangement. If the work is published, you have to contact the publisher. This also applies to translations and the setting of texts to music.

    For protected works, therefore, you always need the rightholders' permission - depending on the circumstances, such permission must be obtained from the author, the author's heirs or from the relevant publisher. In order to register your arrangement with SUISA, you need to submit the permission which is the basis for your participation in the revenues from the work.

    SUISA offers its support in identifying and tracing the rightholders concerned: authors@suisa.ch

  • Copyright law does not only protect works in their entirety, it also protects individual parts of works provided they qualify as a work in their own right. The melody, a solo or other elements of a work may therefore be protected; they may not be freely used if, taken alone, they themselves constitute a work with an individual character. That is the case if the sequence is original and clearly recognisable. This can only be decided on a case-by -case basis. The more marked the characteristics of the sampled element, the less likely it is you will be able to use that element for free. The claim that sampling is free up to two measures, nine tones or 10 seconds of music is entirely unfounded. There is no clean line between lawful sampling and unlawful sampling.

    If you want to include a sample of somebody else’s protected work in a new work which you intend to publish, you have to obtain a licence to use the sample of the protected work. You have to conclude a sampling agreement with the publisher or the author of the original composition.
    As a rule, samples are taken from works which are commercially available in the form of a CD or other recording format. In that case, you must also ask the record company for an authorisation to use the sample.

  • There are three types of remix depending on who produces the remix and whether or not samples are used:

    1. Remix by the author of the original work without samples from third-party works 
      The producer of the remix needs to obtain the approval of the company that recorded the original work and of the work’s co-authors (if the original work was composed by several persons). 
    2. Remix by the author of the original work with samples from third-party works 
      The remixer also needs to obtain the consent of the right-holders (author, publisher and record producer) of any third-party works used in the samples.  Moreover, he needs the approval of the original recording company and of his co-authors, if any. 
    3. Remix by a third party using samples from third-party works 
      The remixer needs the authorisation of the author or, as the case may be, of the publisher (rights in the work) and of the record company (rights in the sound recording).  This agreement also covers the right to use samples from the original work. If the remixer wishes to use samples from the works of other third parties, he must also obtain the authorisation of their right-holders (author, publisher, record company).

    A remix qualifies as an arrangement of an original work and is independently protected by copyright law.
     

  • A cover version is a musical work that is deliberately reproduced and possibly reinterpreted - a cover version basically stays very close to the original. Cover versions do not go as far as arrangements  because the musical work is not given any new individual character. Conversely to arrangements, cover versions cannot be independently protected by a separate copyright. 

  • No. If a band wants to play a cover version, it does not need permission from the author of the original. The band must indicate the author of the original version on the list the organiser has to send SUISA after the concert so that SUISA can pass on the remuneration due to the author.

    If a band wants to record a cover version, they have to enter the title of the song and the author’s name in the “List of music to be recorded” section of the sound recording declaration so SUISA can transfer the remuneration to the author.

Waivers

  • Composers and songwriters for film, television and other audiovisual media have depended for more than a century on a ‘typical deal’ which allows them to collect royalty income in exchange for granting their copyrights to broadcasters, digital streaming services and other users of their works.

    Today, across the globe, that 100-year precedent is increasingly being challenged by companies who insist that composers accept buyouts of their rights (including performing rights) as a condition of being employed or commissioned for a project. In this scenario, composers are expected to create music in exchange for a one-time fee instead of receiving continuing income for their work.

    The works of songwriters and composers (just as of screenwriters and directors) are an invaluable and inextricable part of the storytelling in film, TV and all other audiovisual media. Traditionally, royalty income has been the only dependable source of earnings for these creators. The growing practice of buying out their rights (including performing rights) changes the remuneration equation with important implications for creators’ careers.

    To raise awareness of this global issue for creators, a new international education resource is now being made available, bringing together the US music creators’ movement Your Music Your Future and CISAC, the global confederation of authors societies with 230 members in over 120 countries and territories.

    Your Music Your Future was founded by composers, for composers in the US in 2019 and is dedicated to educating fellow creators about their options for compensation and the ramifications of their choices, including accepting total buyouts of their work. The campaign is strictly educational, taking no sides in the debate, and has built a community of more than 15,000 members.

    https://international.yourmusicyourfuture.com/

  • No. SUISA cannot accept any waivers from its members for the following reason:

    • artists who grant waivers expose themselves and others to pressure from users: for example, organisers could decide only to employ bands that are prepared to waive royalties on their own compositions;
    • processing waivers involves disproportionate additional administration costs for SUISA.  Such additional costs have to be borne by all SUISA members, including those who do not issue waivers.

    In justified exceptions, SUISA may waive its claim to remuneration, for example in the case of charity events or world premières of commissioned works. In consultation with our members, waivers may be allowed in these exceptional cases. 

    Further information about administration waivers:
    SUISAinfo 3.2013 (https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/downloadcenter/suisainfo/Suisa_Info_3.13-DE.pdf?sword_list[]=suisainfo&sword_list[]=3.&sword_list[]=2013&no_cache=1)
     

  • In very few exceptional cases, SUISA may decide not to claim remuneration on an author's own sound recording productions.  This is the case, for example, when an author has a demo CD of his own works pressed. The following conditions must be satisfied, however:
    A waiver is only possible where the author

    • holds 100% of the rights in the work, and
    • produces the sound recording himself or commissions someone else to produce it on his behalf.

    The waiver must be communicated to SUISA in writing and duly signed.

    Link: How to register a work

  • This is only possible if you conclude an addendum to your rights' administration agreement with SUISA (supplemental film agreement). This supplemental agreement is a prerequisite if you intend to settle any rights directly with the principal. In any event, your composition must have been commissioned for an audiovisual production, in other words, the music must have been especially composed for a film. Royalties cannot be waived, however, in respect of compositions for commercials and the use of existing works as film music.

    The rights administration agreement does not allow SUISA members to conclude what are known as “buy-out agreements”.

    The supplemental film agreement can be obtained from the Members Department: authors@suisa.ch (D) authorsF@suisa.ch (F) autori@suisa.ch (I).

    Link: Artikel SUISAinfo 3.2013 (https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/downloadcenter/suisainfo/Suisa_Info_3.13-DE.pdf?sword_list[]=suisainfo&sword_list[]=3.&sword_list[]=2013&no_cache=1)

    Specimen agreement for film music

Membership for DJs

  • Yes. Any DJ can become a member of SUISA as long as he is the composer, lyricist or arranger of a musical work. Basically, under copyright law, even the person who does the remix qualifies as an arranger and is thus an author. But if you only play recordings and do not do any composing, you cannot generally join SUISA. In that case, you are only a performing artist, not an author. 

    Joining SUISA

  • "Hit boxes" are used to keep a comprehensive record of all the songs played; this ensures that revenues are fairly and accurately distributed. Hit boxes have been installed in discotheques around the country based on statistical parameters which take into account the different language regions, cantons, music styles, revenues and size of the individual venues. The hit boxes keep track of the songs played at selected times and compare the collected data with a song database through an audio fingerprint system.

    For further information hit boxes.
     

  • Not without a licence from the right-holders. The right-holders are the relevant composers, lyricists and arrangers (authors), publishers, performers and record companies.

    SUISA will provide a license covering authors’ and publishers’ rights against payment of a fee. The amount of the fee depends on the applicable tariff.

    If you use third-party recordings, you will also need a licence for the performer’s and record producers’ rights. You may apply to the performer’s record company for one. You will have to negotiate the royalty for the recording rights.

    Royalties are payable even if you send the mix tape to an organiser free of charge or make it freely available online.

  • If you wish to record music that is protected by copyright, you have to  declare the production to SUISA. SUISA manages the rights of nearly all Swiss and foreign authors and can thus issue a licence against payment of a royalty.

    Fill in the application form for a sound recording production licence. SUISA must receive the duly completed form at least ten days before the recording date.  SUISA will then authorise the pressing plant to produce the sound recording. Without SUISA’s authorisation, the pressing plant cannot proceed.

    SUISA only authorises original recordings. For re-recordings from existing sound carriers you need an additional authorisation from the producer. The applicant is responsible for obtaining the authorisation; it must be annexed to the application for a sound recording production licence.

    Contact: Mechanical Rights Department, Phone:++41 44 482 43 33  e-mail

CDs, DVDs, MP3

  • DRM systems have not become as widespread as was originally expected. On the contrary, they have now largely disappeared. And those that remain are mostly closed systems which are not at all or not entirely interconnectable with other systems, and which cause archiving problems. Such systems by no means assure users access to all works and services.

    DRM systems can also be problematic in terms of privacy protection. DRM has not succeeded in imposing itself in the music world or in any other area, and the four major labels sell their music online through a multitude of internet platforms without any copyright protection.

    The Swiss copyright collecting societies reject DRM for all these reasons. Consumers should be free to make copies for their own private use, but authors must be entitled to collect their due through an appropriate remuneration system.

  • Private copying is allowed. Blank CDs can be used for storing personal data or music. It is neither possible nor desirable to check exactly who is storing what. That is why a fee is also charged on blank CD data carriers (CD-R data).  At five centimes per hour or per 525 MB storage capacity, the fee is significantly lower than for blank audio CD-Rs or audio cassettes, which are subject to a charge of 33 cts per hour or per 525 MB storage capacity. The fee is calculated taking into account the fact that blank CDs do not only serve for storing protected works but are also used for storing other files such as private photos, for example. The fee only covers the average portion of the memory used for storing protected works according to statistical surveys.

  • You may burn your own CDs and DVDs provided

    • the CD or DVD is for your own private use, or
    • the CD or DVD is a gift for a close friend or relative.

    You may not burn your own CDs and DVDs if

    • you intend to sell the CD or DVD without having obtained the authorisation of the record company or a licence from SUISA, or
    • the CD or DVD is a gift for someone other than a close friend or relative.

    The Copyright Act authorises the use of a work “in the personal sphere or within a small circle of closely-related persons, such as relatives or friends“. In case law and literature, this circle is very narrowly defined. Moreover, only private individuals may burn CDs or DVDs - burning is not permitted if it is done by a press shop or any other third party for a fee. 

  • When you buy CDs or music on the internet, you do not pay any royalties for private use. Nor are any royalties payable since private use is permitted by law. There is no restriction on the copying of music files from a CD or the internet for private use. The copying of protected works onto a blank carrier is the only use in the private sphere which is subject by law to the payment of a fee; that fee is payable, however, by the manufacturer or the importer, not by the buyer.  By law, the private consumer never has to pay a royalty. However, as in other areas, it is common for the manufacturer or importer to pass on its costs to the consumer.

  • Yes. If you intend to record musical works (still) protected by copyright, or have such works recorded, you need a licence from SUISA. In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the legal protection period runs for 70 years after the author's death.

    Nearly all authors in Switzerland and abroad have entrusted SUISA with the administration of their rights in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. SUISA grants the licence to record a work on the author’s behalf against payment of the corresponding remuneration, which it passes on. Accordingly, you must always notify SUISA before producing a recording, or having a recording produced.

  • Download the "Application for a sound carrier recording licence", fill it in and send it to SUISA. SUISA must receive the duly completed form at least ten days before the recording date. SUISA will then authorise the pressing plant to produce the sound recordings. Without SUISA’s authorisation, the pressing plant cannot proceed.

  • As long as you are only re-recording in your private sphere and you use the music privately, you do not have to do anything because the use is private and permitted by law.

    However, if you intend to use the music thus recorded in public, you first have to obtain permission from the record company, which generally holds both the recording rights and the performing artist's rights. Then you declare the sound recording production to SUISA and obtain a licence for the mechanical rights in the musical works. The record company's permission must be attached to your «Application for a sound carrier recording licence».

  • To use music for advertising purposes you need the express permission of the author or his publisher. SUISA will forward your application. As this is often quite a long procedure, SUISA notifies applicants on receipt of their duly completed application forms that no sound recordings may be produced until a written authorisation is issued. Authors and publishers may demand remuneration for the licence: such remuneration is additional to any royalties collected by SUISA.
    For more information

  • In the case of synchronisations (setting to music), the producer of an audiovisual recording and his principal are responsible for obtaining a licence from SUISA. They are jointly and severally liable for the royalty payments. 

    In the case of projections, the organiser of the projection is responsible for obtaining the licence. This applies in particular for the projection of audiovisual recordings made available to Swiss or Liechtenstein companies by their foreign partners or their parent and sister companies.

    Tariff VN and Tariff VI
       

  • Yes. You can only record protected music on audiovisual carriers if the author or rightholder (generally the publisher) has permitted you to do so. Without such permission (known as a synchronisation licence), audiovisual carriers may not be reproduced, distributed or projected in public.

    SUISA cannot as a rule grant such licences. You must have a synchronisation licence for

    • setting films to music or reproducing films with music for purposes other than private use
    • projecting films with music outside a close circle of friends and family.

    NB: You must also obtain permission for projections at club or association events, for training purposes, for hotel-video services. The permission must be obtained in advance.

  • SUISA represents the world film music repertoire in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Abroad, authorisation must be obtained from the copyright collecting society of the country where you want to produce and/or show the audiovisual recording.

  • If you combine music with other works (pictures, dialogues etc.) on the audiovisual recording, or make the audiovisual recording for alien purposes (advertising, sales promotions or public relations), you may be going against the author’s principles or intentions. In principle, to protect the author's moral rights, SUISA only issues a licence to record music with the author's consent (e.g. evidenced by the "sync" licence). 

  • When you buy a CD, or music on the internet, no fee is charged for private use. Nor is any fee payable since private use is permitted by law.
    Anybody who wishes to copy music from a CD or from a music file on the internet for private use can do so unrestrictedly. In exchange, the Copyright Act provides that the rightholders of the copied works are entitled to a fee levied on blank carriers and storage media (CDs, DVDs, MP3 players, etc.).

    See infochart (https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/suisa/FAQ/SUIS_Grafik_LTV_2014_final.jpg)

  • The copyright administration society levies the fee from the manufacturer or importer of the blank media; as in other areas, the latter usually passes it on to the consumer.

    Tariff rates are regularly negotiated, and are set taking into account current data and prices. Whenever new storage media liable to be used for private copying of protected works appear on the market, a new tariff is negotiated.  The share of commercial and unprotected private data is duly taken into consideration when the tariffs are set. This makes it possible to set a lump-sum rate for all data carriers. Certainly, individual billing would be more fair, but it would involve disproportionate controlling as well as undesirable interference in the private sphere.

    See infochart (https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/suisa/FAQ/SUIS_Grafik_LTV_2014_final.jpg)

  • Both personal data and works protected by copyright can be stored on such media. It is neither possible nor desirable to check exactly who is storing what. That is why royalties are charged as a lump-sum fee. The share of personal and business data on such storage media is periodically verified by GfS, the research institution, and deducted when tariff rates are structured. In other words, the remuneration charged is reduced by the share of non-protected data.

  • Say you already have a pair of sunglasses but need another one in the car: you have to buy a second pair. If you have bought a CD or downloaded music from an online shop and want to listen to the same track in your car or on your MP3 player when you go jogging, you are allowed to copy the CD or the songs yourself – at least in Switzerland. The authors are entitled to a fee for those private copies since you are saving the cost of buying another CD or the songs again.

    The authors are entitled to fair remuneration for the loss of income. The same applies to every single private copy. It’s a simple and fair system. Because, although the CD or music file belongs to you, the music still belongs to its authors, i.e. the composers and lyricists.

    Moreover, it’s not the end-user who pays the blank media levy, but the manufacturer or importer of the storage media. And the manufacturer or importer build the royalties into the retail price just like they do with their other production costs and their profit margin.

  • This extrapolation is wrong since it assumes fees are charged at a flat rate. Fee rates per memory unit are actually constantly falling. In 2003, the fee for 1GB in the first tariff for once-recordable DVDs was 40 centimes, today it is 19 centimes for rewritable DVDs and 7 centimes for once-recordable DVDs. Moreover, the increasing memory size is taken into account by the degressive rates: the bigger the memory, the lower the rate.

    The tariffs are regularly renegotiated with the user associations. An equal representation arbitration commission decides the tariff. Its decision can be appealed before the Federal Administrative Court, with a final appeal before the Federal Supreme Court. In March 2010, for example, the Federal Arbitration Commission for Copyright and Neighbouring Rights introduced a new tariff for music phones. That decision was appealed and, as a result, the tariff is still not in force.

  • On the contrary: consumers are not the losers but the winners since they profit from the new copying technologies. Thanks to the rapid fall in the price of storage media, digital copying has never been so easy and so cheap. On the other hand, the revenues from the blank media levy are stagnating again given the steep decline in rates in recent years.

    The blank media levy compensates authors for the private copying of their works. According to the Federal Copyright Act, authors are entitled to “adequate” compensation. As memory size grows, more works are copied. So more rightholders have to be compensated. If authors are to receive adequate compensation, tariff rates cannot continue to be endlessly reduced.

    A 1GB memory can store about 250 pieces of music. The going rate for MP3 players is maximum CHF 0.70 per GB. This represents a royalty of CHF 0.0028 (or 0.28 centimes) per piece of music. As a rule, this amount has to be split among several rightholders.

  • Since 1992, the royalty fees regulated by the Copyright Act have been levied on a lump-sum basis on all storage media suitable for copying protected works. At the outset, there were cassettes; nowadays we have CDs, recorders with built-in hard drives and MP3 players.

    The Swiss legislative specifically opted for a wording which is technologically neutral in order to avoid having to amend the law with each innovation. Basically, the obligation to pay royalties applies to any technological innovation which is suitable for storing private copies of protected music, books and films. To collect a royalty, the copyright societies have to demonstrate through surveys that the new media is actually used for that purpose; then they have to negotiate tariffs with the associations representing the producers and importers of such media.

  • New technologies like broadband internet and mobile terminals ensure we have constant access to creative content, anytime and anywhere. But even the most innovative device relies on content to make it interesting. There would be no MP3 players or iPods if people did not want to listen to music when they are on the move. Art and culture are the cornerstones of the creative economy. But – like any other industry – the cultural industry is dependent upon the financial flows generated from the use of cultural goods. Would anyone be prepared to invest his time and spirit to create new music, films, photography and literature without any earnings?

    The blank media levy is a simple system designed to ensure that creators receive an equitable remuneration for the private copying of their works. It is based on the costs-by-cause principle and does not need any checking device liable to interfere with individual privacy. There may well be other suitable remuneration systems. But so far none has been devised or tried. And until such time, the blank media levy will continue to be necessary.

  • No. Rental remuneration cannot be included in the price of videos and DVDs since the Copyright Act provides that only collective administration societies are entitled to collect this remuneration (Article 13(3)).  The higher price for rental cassettes is due to the exclusivity period during which films are not allowed to be broadcast on (free) television.

Membership for DJs

  • Yes. Any DJ can become a member of SUISA as long as he is the composer, lyricist or arranger of a musical work. Basically, under copyright law, even the person who does the remix qualifies as an arranger and is thus an author. But if you only play recordings and do not do any composing, you cannot generally join SUISA. In that case, you are only a performing artist, not an author. 

    Joining SUISA

  • "Hit boxes" are used to keep a comprehensive record of all the songs played; this ensures that revenues are fairly and accurately distributed. Hit boxes have been installed in discotheques around the country based on statistical parameters which take into account the different language regions, cantons, music styles, revenues and size of the individual venues. The hit boxes keep track of the songs played at selected times and compare the collected data with a song database through an audio fingerprint system.

    For further information hit boxes.
     

  • Not without a licence from the right-holders. The right-holders are the relevant composers, lyricists and arrangers (authors), publishers, performers and record companies.

    SUISA will provide a license covering authors’ and publishers’ rights against payment of a fee. The amount of the fee depends on the applicable tariff.

    If you use third-party recordings, you will also need a licence for the performer’s and record producers’ rights. You may apply to the performer’s record company for one. You will have to negotiate the royalty for the recording rights.

    Royalties are payable even if you send the mix tape to an organiser free of charge or make it freely available online.

  • If you wish to record music that is protected by copyright, you have to  declare the production to SUISA. SUISA manages the rights of nearly all Swiss and foreign authors and can thus issue a licence against payment of a royalty.

    Fill in the application form for a sound recording production licence. SUISA must receive the duly completed form at least ten days before the recording date.  SUISA will then authorise the pressing plant to produce the sound recording. Without SUISA’s authorisation, the pressing plant cannot proceed.

    SUISA only authorises original recordings. For re-recordings from existing sound carriers you need an additional authorisation from the producer. The applicant is responsible for obtaining the authorisation; it must be annexed to the application for a sound recording production licence.

    Contact: Mechanical Rights Department, Phone:++41 44 482 43 33  e-mail

About SUISA royalties in general

  • Royalty rates vary depending on how music is used. For example, the rate for concerts is higher than for the rate for background music in retail outlets. This is because of the different value of music in these contexts:  people go to a concert primarily for the music, whereas when they go shopping, the music played in the background is of secondary value. You may contact SUISA's customer service at any time for a non-binding estimate of the fees for any given use. 

    The fees for the various types of music uses are regulated in our tariffs. 

    Overview of tariffs
     

  • The law requires all Swiss copyright societies to issue tariffs for their royalties. The tariffs are negotiated with representative user associations. The Federal Arbitration Commission, an equal representation body elected by the Federal Council, approves the tariffs which are then published in the Swiss official trade journal (Handelsblatt/Feuille Officielle Suisse du Commerce). This procedure is designed to ensure that the tariffs are not abusive.

  • The tariffs of the five Swiss collecting societies must be adequate. This is a requirement of the Federal Copyright Act (Article 59 FCA). In practice, SUISA takes the following points among others into account in setting tariff rates:

    • the revenues generated by the use of the works, or the costs associated with such use;
    • the type and number of works used; and
    • the breakdown between protected and non protected works.

    As a rule, fees should not exceed 10% of the proceeds (for example, ticket sales) or costs (for example, performers' fees).

  • Do I have to pay royalties 

    • when admission to an event is free?
    • for events that are not commercial?
    • for events that make a loss?

    Yes. The economic success of an event is the organiser’s affair. Royalties are fixed costs like beverages and lighting, and must be paid whether or not the event turns a profit. 

    Do I have to pay royalties for

    • private events, or
    • club events that are not open to the general public?

    For private events you do not need a licence and you do not have to pay royalties. However, the term “private” is restrictively defined by law: it applies only to a single individual who enjoys music with a small circle of close friends or relatives (Article 19(1)(a) of the Copyright Act). It follows that, even though they are not open to the general public, events organised by clubs, associations, companies, army units and the like are not private events. In case of doubt, it is advisable to contact SUISA and inquire whether royalties are payable for the planned event. 

  • Musicians’ fees remunerate their performance. Their fee does not cover the authors’ creative work, nor the right to perform the authors’ works. The performer and the author are two legally separate persons, even when they are united in one and the same individual. Both of the legally independent persons are entitled to remuneration: the authors is entitled to royalties and the performer is entitled to a fee.

  • Yes. If the performer is also the composer, lyricist or arranger (i.e. the author), and is a member of SUISA, he or she has assigned his or her rights to SUISA and SUISA asserts the royalty rights royalties on his or her behalf.  Accordingly, the author no longer holds those rights and cannot settle directly with the organiser. The royalty settlements are thus handled through SUISA. It is important to understand that, a musician onstage is often both performer and  author in one natural person; legally speaking however, the performer and the author are two separate juridical persons. 

  • No. But you still have to provide SUISA a complete, detailed list of all the works. If the musicians only performed works in the public domain, naturally you will not be charged for royalties.

  • Yes. You have to send SUISA a list for all the artists. SUISA is entitled to collect royalties even for authors who are members of foreign collecting societies. If the author has not transferred his rights, you have to pay him individually. Royalties are not due for works which are not arranged and whose author has been dead for 70 years or longer.

  • SUISA can take legal action against you if you do not declare an event and/or do not pay royalties.  SUISA can also impose a 100% surcharge if the requisite information is not provided despite a reminder. If payment is refused repeatedly, SUISA may issue a music ban and prohibit you from using music publicly.

Mint

  • Mint Digital Services is a joint venture established by SUISA and SESAC, a US music rights organisation. Mint Digital Services offers administration services for multi-territorial online music licensing. Essentially, its services involve processing usage reports for online platforms, identifying represented repertoires, and invoicing.

    On the one hand, Mint Digital Services enables SESAC and SUISA to streamline the online licensing of their own repertoires. On the other, the joint venture offers its services to large music publishers and, in the future, to other rights management organisations.

  • There were three main reasons:

    1. Through Mint Digital Services, SUISA can turn to account its high-performance IT infrastructure for the development of new business areas.
    2. The joint venture enables SUISA to better exploit the capacity of its existing IT infrastructure. So far, SUISA's extensive investment in its online licensing and distribution activities has only served its own repertoire. With little additional cost, Mint Digital Services can handle the invoicing and administration of SESAC's repertoire and those of other publishers - at a later date perhaps even for other rights management organisations. 
    3. SUISA is thus equipping itself for the future. In coming years, rights' management organisations will see their monopolies challenged. The rule that only one society should be responsible for licensing the world repertoire in its own country is being gradually eroded. The trend towards direct licensing - in other words, multi-territorial licensing of own repertoire - is progressing even outside the online sector.
       
  • No. Nothing will change for SUISA members. SUISA remains the contact for members and will continue to issue their settlement statements. Mint Digital Services simply provides services to SUISA.

  • No. The lion's share of the investment has already been made since SUISA has regularly upgraded its IT, and continues to do so - regardless of the joint venture. The cost of developing the new company is therefore relatively low, and the business plan shows that the investment will be fully written down in a few years.

  • The partnership with SESAC has no affect on settlement flows from the USA. The joint venture only concerns online uses outside the USA. SUISA will continue to use its best efforts to improve payments from the USA and other countries. However, we have only limited influence on the practice of our foreign sister societies.

  • No. Warner is a customer of Mint Digital Services AG - not of SUISA. Moreover, SUISA strives to be as customer-oriented as possible, regardless whether it is dealing with a major, an independent or an author.

  • No. The joint venture will only provide administration and invoicing services. To ensure access to the European Economic Area for the licensing of the SESAC and SUISA repertoires, subsidiaries have been established in Liechtenstein:  Mint SESAC Licensing, a subsidiary of SESAC, and Mint SUISA Licensing, a subsidiary of SUISA. The two companies will be responsible for the separate online licensing of their own rights, and for the performing rights of most Anglo-American companies.

  • We may be able to negotiate better contracts with certain online platforms. But the platforms themselves will decide whether they want to negotiate with the two SUISA and SESAC licensing entities individually or jointly. If they decide in favour of joint negotiations, SUISA is likely to profit from the larger SESAC repertoire to obtain better terms and conditions.

    SUISA, i.e. SUISA Digital Licensing AG, regularly renegotiates its contracts with online platforms with a view to securing the best possible terms and conditions for authors and publishers.

Information about background music

  • Background music only has an accompanying, supplementary or secondary function.  Background music is mainly used in stores, restaurants, waiting rooms, offices, etc. or when phone calls are on hold.

  • Remuneration is charged based on the surface area on which the broadcast or performance can be heard or seen. For music on hold, the reference basis is the number of lines on the exchange.

  • Unless otherwise stipulated in the licence, SUISA basically waives the need for programme listings.

  • CT 3a regulates how much you have to pay to play background music on your business premises, for example, or to run films and TV broadcasts on screens there. The fees you pay are distributed to the composers, lyricists or performers of the music, and to the producers, screenplay writers and actors of the films and broadcasts.

    In Switzerland, artists, producers and screenplay writers are represented by the five Swiss copyright collecting societies. Since CT 3a is by definition a "common" tariff, you will receive a single invoice, and from SUISA. By paying SUISA's invoice, the claims of all five collecting societies deriving from CT 3a are extinguished.

  • You have to pay fees under CT 3a if at least one of the following circumstances applies:

    • you play background music in your restaurant, shop or in any place on your commercial premises;
    • you run films, radio or TV broadcasts on your premises;
    • you operate a guesthouse, holiday home, patient rooms or the like, and have equipped the rooms with devices to play music or show films and radio and TV broadcasts;
    • you play music on your telephone waiting loop.

    In a nutshell, since composers, lyricists, performing artists, screenplay writers and producers are by law entitled to remuneration for the use of their works and performances, whenever you use their works and performances you have to pay licence fees.

  • There are no exceptions for small shops. As soon as you play background music or films and TV broadcasts on your commercial premises you are liable for fees under CT 3a. In exchange, you have access to the world repertoire of music for a very low price.

  • Companies and organisations pay license fees according to CT 3a if they make music and/or videos available to employees, customers, guests, etc. at any of the following locations:

    • Telephone waiting loop
    • Shop
    • Hairdresser’s salon
    • Gastronomy (restaurants, bars, etc.)
    • Lift on company property
    • Office
    • Waiting room in a doctor’s surgery or official office
    • Company car/van
    • Furnished apartments/rooms rented for commercial purposes e.g. holiday homes, patient rooms, Airbnb, student rooms, apartment hotels
    • Foyer of a company building
    • Car park
    • Workshop
    • Exhibition
    • Kiosk
    • Ski lift station
    • Ice rink or sports field
    • Recreation rooms in institutions
    • Youth centre
  • You must contact SUISA of your own initiative; the simplest way to do so is online at www.suisa.ch/3a. If you use music without a licence from SUISA, SUISA can charge double for your unlicensed use. If you have forgotten to declare usage in the past, there will be no consequences as long as you contact us promptly. We will invoice you at the normal CT 3a rate for your prior unlicensed usage.

  • The rates vary depending on the surface area where you play background music or show films and broadcasts. The surface areas per location, including any guestrooms, are added together. If a customer operates several locations (business premises, shops, factories, branches, etc.), remuneration is due separately for each location.

    For background music, the fee for a surface area of 1000 m2 or less is CHF 19.20 per month (plus VAT). For the use of audiovisual works and performances (films and TV broadcasts), the fee for a surface area of 1000 mor less is CHF 20.80 per month (plus VAT). For larger areas, the fees under point 6 of the Tariff are payable additionally. These flat fees also apply to waiting loops based on the number of telephone lines.

    Thus for a very low price, CT 3a gives you access to the world repertoire of music.

  • SUISA invoices CT 3a fees once a year. As a rule, the licence is granted for a full calendar year (1.1. to 31.12) and corresponds to twelve times the monthly fee. For businesses or holiday homes that do not play background music or films all year round, the fee is only charged for the relevant number of months.

    Unless you communicate any changes to SUISA, you will be invoiced on the same basis the following year. For one-off uses (e.g. fairground stands or sports events limited in time), individual invoices will be issued for the relevant time frame; fractions of a month count as a full month. In any event, the minimum charge is equal to one month's fee.

  • Call SUISA's infoline to communicate the changes (0844 234 234). If you have not paid your invoice yet, we will cancel it and issue a new one. If you have already paid the invoice, we will refund the difference or carry it forward to the next invoice.

  • The fees specified by the Radio and Television Act (RTVA) serve to secure independent radio and TV broadcasting in Switzerland. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) distributes the proceeds to the SRG and to the other radio and TV broadcasters with a performance mandate which use them to finance their broadcasting activities.

    The licence fees collected by SUISA are owed to the composers, lyricists and performers of the music and to the producers, screenwriters and actors of the films and broadcasts. All the latter are entitled to remuneration whenever their works and performances are used outside the private sphere, e.g. as background music in stores, restaurants, lounges, working areas or as music for telephone loops. 

  • No, CT 3a licence fees are payable irrespective of the radio and TV reception fee. Even if a business does not have to pay the radio and TV reception fee - e.g. because its annual sales are less than CHF 500,000 - licence fees are due under CT 3a for music, films or TV broadcasts played outside the private sphere.

  • There are no exemptions. Whoever uses music or audiovisual works must pay the fees specified in the tariff because the rightholders are by law entitled to remuneration.

  • Yes. Billag will be collecting the licence fees on behalf of SUISA until the end of 2018. As of 1 January 2019, SUISA will collect the CT 3a licence fees directly.

  • When you buy a CD, you acquire the right to play it in your private sphere, i.e. at home or in your car. Use outside the private sphere is not included in the price of the CD. To play the CD elsewhere, you have to pay a licence fee under CT 3a.

  • No. If the holiday home or guestroom is rented and equipped with the necessary devices, the lessor/landlord must pay licence fees in accordance with CT 3a.

  • No. There are different tariffs for live music. Just as there are many possible uses of music, there are several different tariffs for the individual uses. 

Livestream

  • Live streaming is (as a rule) the direct transmission of music or events disseminated live via the internet.

    In principle, the remuneration is charged as a percentage of revenues. If there are no revenues, remuneration will be based on the total costs, or a minimum fee will be applied. 

    For more information and the licensing terms and conditions for livestreams. 

  • As a private individual, you do not need a licence from SUISA to place non-commercial livestreams on YouTube and/or Facebook/Instagram because SUISA has direct agreements with both platforms (YouTube and Facebook/Instagram). In this context, non-commercial means that no money is charged for the livestream and that it is not produced by or for a company. Charity actions whose proceeds go entirely to the needy, as well as religious services and association events qualify as non-commercial provided no money is charged.

  • On social media: whenever money is charged for the livestream, or if it is streamed by or for a company.

    On your own website: as a rule, whenever you use music protected by copyright.
    Exception: a performing artist (e.g. a band) which only ever plays its own compositions (“own use”).

  • In the case of objections, you are often told who the objecting rightholders are. In that case, it is advisable to contact them: that is the best way of finding out why the notice appeared.

  • YouTube treats archived livestreams in the same way as any other uploaded videos: rightholders can claim the content of the videos, thus enabling advertising. YouTube then shares the advertising revenues with the rightholders. This is perfectly admissible: you can only avoid it by using material that you wrote or produced yourself.

  • That depends: if you do not play music from a recording (and only stream concerts, for example), you can assume that the stream will not be blocked. However, SUISA is only responsible for copyrights and not for recording rights which are represented by the labels. Therefore, if you play music from recordings, you need to contact the labels to avoid blocking.

  • SUISA is just about to conclude a contract with Twitch. As in the case of Facebook and YouTube, you do not need a licence from SUISA for any livestreams you make available for free on Twitch. For livestreams that are not free of charge for the user, or which you otherwise monetize, you need a licence in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html)

    In your planning, you should also consider that, in addition to the authors rights, you will need to obtain a licence for performance rights (in other words, the recording rights, also known as master rights). These must be obtained directly from the labels. As a rule, it is not advisable to use any “well-known” music in your game streams on Twitch because unlicensed streams can always be blocked.

  • That may well be the case for the time being because those platforms have less effective fingerprinting systems than YouTube or Facebook. But that will change soon.

    Warning: streaming unlicensed music is not allowed on any of these platforms and may lead to the blocking of your account.

  • If your club is planning to stream commercially available recordings, you must expect the livestream to be blocked by the labels. However, if the event is streamed free of charge, you may assume that the copyrights are covered by contractual agreements with Facebook.

  • No, only if you charge money for it. Otherwise, the rights are covered by the agreement between SUISA and YouTube.

  • If you are planning to stream commercially available recordings, you must expect the livestream to be blocked. For the authors rights, a licence has to be obtained in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).

    1. From your organ/live/concert
      a) on social media: the rights are generally regulated by contracts with the platforms. You do not need a licence from SUISA.
      b) on your own website: you must obtain a licence from SUISA in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).
       
    2. From recordings
      a) on social media: you should expect the stream to be blocked (see FAQ 6)
      b) on your own website: in addition to the authors’ rights, you need licences from the labels.
  • Yes, you must obtain a licence in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).

    Moreover, DJ sets also contain recordings; the record companies or “labels” hold the recording rights.

    As a rule, the labels do not allow DJ sets on social media and will block them.

    To livestream on your own website, you will need to license the recording rights directly from the labels beforehand. Without a licence, you will be infringing those rights and may expose yourself to prosecution.

    For the time being, to the best of SUISA’s knowledge, Mixcloud is the only platform that has concluded a contract covering DJ livestreaming with most major labels. Therefore, it is advisable to livestream your DJ sets only there.

  • Yes. As soon as the stream generates revenues, you must pay license fees.

Basic questions: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Musicians have a legal claim to royalties when their music is made publicly available in videos on the internet. SUISA invoices the fees and passes them on to the authors. 

  • Yes. SUISA is responsible for collecting the fees for all videos intended for the public in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As a rule, these rights cannot be settled abroad. If your foreign partner only uses music that is not subject to royalties, it is possible that the rights for making available in Switzerland have been settled.

  • You will no longer have to pay us, respectively the rightholders (authors and publishers), any fees in the following year.

  • The fee depends on the number of videos with music made available. 

  • Yes. It covers all the videos made available on your company’s own websites and social media profiles. Once the production budget for the videos on your internet pages exceeds CHF 30,000, these licence conditions no longer apply. In this case, kindly inform us by email to gkvideo@suisa.ch.

  • For each web presence, i.e. on your Youtube and Facebook Channel, as well as on your own website, you are making 100 videos available. That makes a total of 300. And that is the number you must report.

Reporting: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • For each web presence, i.e. on your Youtube and Facebook Channel, as well as on your own website, you are making 100 videos available. That makes a total of 300. And that is the number you must report.

  • No. If you only make your videos available on intranet, we assume that you are paying the relevant fees for usage under Common Tariff 9 and through PRO LITTERIS

  • If you only have your total number of videos, regardless whether or not they contain music, you can simply report the total number. Experience shows that 75% of all videos contain music. Accordingly, we will deduct 25% from the total number reported. idéos contiennent de la musique. Dans ces conditions, nous allons réduire le nombre total de vos vidéos de 25 %. 

  • Yes, you can choose whichever reference date you wish. Based on your report, you will be invoiced for the current year. The invoice for the following year will be sent in April.
    If, in the following year, the number of videos changes and moves into a different fee bracket, you should let us know by 28 February. Maybe you could even provide a video forecast for the following year. Adjustments may be made once a year. Please report the changes in the number of videos  through our customer portal.odification du nombre de vidéos au moyen de notre portail clients.

  • On social media it is relatively easy to find the total number of videos. On Youtube, for example, you can see the total number of videos at a glance when you access your channel. On Facebook you find the number under the heading “videos”, they should be counted there. On Instagram you have to scroll through all the posts and count them individually. 

Music rights: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • If the author is not a member of any collecting society like SUISA (or Germany’s GEMA for example), you do not have to pay anything. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fee for the making-available. With such authors you can settle the synchronisation rights, and in certain cases also the production and reproduction rights, directly.

  • No. Under the licence you only pay the author’s making-available fee for the music you use on the Internet. You first have to obtain the synchronisation and production rights for each video. If you copy the music from an existing source (e.g. a sound recording or directly from the Internet), then you must also obtain the rights in the recording (known as neighboring rights).

  • You can obtain the production rights from SUISA. For the synchronisation rights, you must contact each rightholder (composer, lyricist, publisher) individually. For the neighbouring rights, you should contact either the producer of the sound recording (the “label”), IFPI, or Audion.

For the past: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Yes. The rightholders may also assert their claims retrospectively or instruct us to do so on their behalf.

Territory: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • The licence is valid worldwide if you use production music (also known as library or mood music), or music from rightholders who have concluded a contract with us (as a rule all authors in Switzerland). We cannot grant global licences for the international music repertoire.  However, if there is a conflict with a foreign sister society, for example, we will in any event act as intermediary and coordinate the proper licensing solution.

Payments: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Your fees, net of a 15% commission, are passed on to the entitled parties. 

  • Yes, if your number of videos with music changes only slightly, or not at all, and the new number of videos is still in the same fee bracket.
    If the number of videos (for the following year) moves into a different fee bracket, you should let us know via our customer portal by 28 February. 

FONDATION SUISA

  • FONDATION SUISA fosters music creation of all genres in Switzerland, especially by:

    • supporting projects in connection with contemporary musical creation in Switzerland,
    • supporting publishers who promote contemporary musical creation in Switzerland,
    • publishing and distributing recorded music anthologies of all genres with a view to making available the broadest possible range of Swiss music, 
    • national and international advertising campaigns for Swiss music.
    • participating in fairs and events abroad,
    • concluding partnerships with similar organisations,
    • awarding prizes and grants.
  • FONDATION SUISA for Music grants financial support to individual applications in the following categories:

    • concerts and tours in Switzerland and abroad,
    • composition commissions,
    • publishing publications (music books or scores),
    • orchestra materials
    • film music,
    • other musical projects of significance for Switzerland.
  • No. FONDATION SUISA does not support the production of recordings. It does, however, publish recordings for free in cooperation with the Swiss National Sound Archives on www.swissdisc.ch.

  • FONDATION SUISA is funded through an annual allocation of 2.5% of SUISA's domestic performance and broadcasting revenues. This corresponds to about CHF 2 million per year.

  • Send your application for funding to:

    FONDATION SUISA
    11bis, Avenue du Grammont
    1007 Lausanne
    Phone +41 (0)21 614 32 70
    Fax +41 (0)21 614 32 79
    email

    The application form can be obtained from FONDATION SUISA or it can be downloaded from the website.
     

Retirement and social security benefits

  • SUISA has established a special Pension Fund for authors and publishers. The Pension Fund contributes to the retirement income of eligible members. For more particulars, please see here.

Data protection

  • SUISA complies with applicable data protection legislation and treats personal data confidentially. SUISA may communicate information about works, authorship or entitlements to third parties in the scope of its mandate, for example to combat piracy or foster and promote music (Article 5.4 of the rights administration agreement).

Taxes/social security contributions

  • Yes. The royalties you receive from SUISA are part of your income and are subject to tax. 

  • No. Authors’ services are exempt from value-added tax.

  • Yes, royalty payments received from SUISA qualify as income from self-employed activities and must be declared to the competent social security office (Ausgleichskasse/caisse de compensation). 
    For more information, see this blog article.

Music on internet

  • If you put one of your own songs on your own website, you do not have to pay any royalties. But if you want to place a song that was composed by someone else (or a song arranged by you but composed by somebody else) on the internet, then you have to obtain a licence from SUISA.

    Formular Verzichtserklärung (Eigenkompositionen online) https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/kunden/Online/Anmeldeformular_Verzicht_Wahrnehmung_Eigenkompositionen_eigener_Webautritt.docx

    Offers free of charge

  • Yes. As the author of the music or lyrics of a musical work, you alone are entitled to decide how your work is used. But if you have transferred part of your copyrights (for example, to SUISA), you should bear the following in mind:

    • If you are a member of SUISA, you can only publish your work without paying royalties on your own website. If you use your own music on your website, you should, however, notify SUISA to avoid SUISA invoicing you. Link: Waiver form 
    • If your work is published on a third-party website (e.g. Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), the owner of the website or the person responsible for its publishing must obtain a licence from SUISA and pay the corresponding fee. 
  • There is no general rule authorising the use of music free of charge. Naming the composer does not replace a copyright licence.

  • No, because we assume that the CD production was already duly licensed. But it is important to indicate the name of the original author in the metadata. SUISA invoices the digital service providers (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.) directly. 

  • If you are a member of SUISA, you have to declare all your compositions to SUISA so that it can collect remuneration for the downloading and streaming of your works. 

  • An arrangement - termed a "derived work" in copyright law - is a variation of a work which satisfies the creative standards qualifying it for copyright protection in its own right. Pursuant to Article 3 of the Federal Copyright Act, the production, publication and exploitation of an arrangement requires the consent of the author of the arrangement.

  • Jurisprudence generally accepts that uploading, i.e. making available protected works on the internet, is only allowed with the consent of the rightholders (authors and publishers, or their rights management organisations, as well as record producers). Users of file-sharing sites who do not obtain such consent are acting unlawfully. The prevailing view, however, is that private downloading in Switzerland is allowed – even if the music was unlawfully offered. Since there is no legal precedent so far, the question has not been conclusively decided yet (in Germany, for example, downloading music files that are “clearly” from illegal sources is prohibited and also prosecuted).

    In practice, the question rarely arises in this form because if you download music using a relatively recent P2P programme, the titles stored on your hard disk will automatically be made available online. This is illegal and you may be exposing yourself to prosecution unless you obtain the necessary licences. Besides, P2P sites are one of the main reasons for the steep decline in record sales; they damage the music industry and jeopardise the livelihood of authors and performers. When you engage in P2P file-sharing, you harm the very artists you love.

  • No. Barcodes are only required for the physical sale of sound recordings. For online commerce, you only need the ISRC code.

    Codes, what codes?

Filme im Internet

  • WebTV is a service offering continuous programmes that are not time-delayed. The user cannot influence the programme playback.

    With Video on Demand (VoD), the viewer can choose when to watch a programme: the viewer can start, pause and stop the playback of a programme at any time. Video on Demand also includes videos embedded in websites.

    Video on Demand 

  • Videos and websites presenting the same content in several languages on the same domain qualify as a single video or web presence.

  • In practice, the uploading person will be sent a warning with a request to delete the video or have it deleted. In certain cases, labels may demand damages for the unauthorised online use. In the case of well-known songs, it may not even be possible to obtain permission to upload. With certain providers, the videos are simply deleted. It depends on the individual case, and on the individual provider and rightholder. 

  • SUISA can licence all the rights (mechanical rights, worldwide rights for making available , synchronisation rights, neighbouring rights) in what is known as mood music.  SUISA maintains corresponding agreements with various publishers of mood music. For further information, please click here.

  • SUISA licenses the mechanical rights (production) and the right to make audiovisual productions available. But the production process involves other rights. These are synchronisation rights, generally held by the publisher, on the one hand, and recording rights, held by the label, on the other. To obtain these rights, one normally has to pay the corresponding remuneration.

  • These are two distinct forms of use. The mechanical rights are federally regulated and are subject to a tariff. Making available is not federally regulated and is subject to its own set of rules. Both uses are public uses within the meaning of the Copyright Act. 

  • Package deals are possible if the customer only uses a single offer, e.g. if the customer only ever uses music from the same mood music catalogue, or the same music title for all videos. This must be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

  • A production budget comprises the pre-production, production and post-production costs.

  • Productions must always be registered before the audiovisual recording is produced.

Werbung im Internet

  • Yes. The video production must first be licensed under tariff VN. As part of this process, you are issued a SUISA number. Then when the video is made available on the internet, the terms and conditions for online advertising campaigns are applicable. When registering to make the video available, you will be asked for the SUISA number. For further information.

  • Image films are designed to cast a positive light on a company while commercials are designed to promote sales.

YouTube und Social Media

  • Yes, since use on www.youtube.ch is a public usage. Accordingly, you must also clarify the production and synchronisation rights.

    Video

    Fact sheet on various rights https://www.suisa.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/kunden/Online/Merkblatt_verschiedene_Rechte.pdf

  • No. YouTube blocks videos at the request of rightholders who do not agree to have their content published on the platform. SUISA does not delete any videos and doesn't block them either; through its repertoire, SUISA helps videos to be found and monetised (i.e. to generate revenues through online advertising). So if a member's music is in a YouTube video, it is worthwhile informing SUISA about the video so that the corresponding remuneration can be secured (claims@suisa.ch).

  • YouTube allows you to embed their videos. However, this authorisation does not apply to the protected content (pictures, music) in such videos - it only allows you to take over the format and player. The owner of the domain where the videos are to be embedded is responsible for the protected content played on his domain. In other words, you have to clarify all the rights in the content of any Youtube videos before you embed these on your website. 

    Video 

  • No. In principle, the operator of the website is responsible for the contents published on it. However, in its General Terms and Conditions, Facebook declines all liability and obliges the user to obtain the necessary rights. If you are not sure whether you are legally allowed to use content, then do not upload it onto Facebook. If you have already done so knowing that you do not hold the rights, then you should remove the contents. If you do not own the rights to the content that you are posting, then by posting that content online without the rightholders' consent you are infringing the terms and conditions of use. Facebook cannot automatically check all the contents published on its platform, and it only deletes contents on request. That is why Facebook declines all liability in its GTC. The fact that you see hundreds of videos on the platform does not mean that all the rights have been properly licensed. The legal situation on Facebook is highly complex and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Our Legal Department is pleased to answer your questions in this regard.

    Facebook – Info on copyrights

  • If you have not yet acquired the rights, the provider (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, etc.) can sanction the uploading. The form of the sanctions is determined by the business policy of the relevant provider and has nothing to do with SUISA. If you have any questions in this regard, you should contact the provider through its webpage. In certain cases, our Legal Department may be able to provide information. 

Online allgemein

  • If your work is published (by streaming or download) on a third-party website (e.g. Soundcloud, Facebook, Youtube etc.), the owner of the website has to obtain a licence and pay the corresponding licence fee.

  • Yes. Basically, it makes no difference whether or not a musical work is used commercially on the internet. Swiss copyright law does not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial usages but between private and public usages, whereby public usages are generally subject to the payment of royalties.

    Audio: Free offers 

  • First and foremost, the provider. The provider is the natural or legal person who places a protected title on an internet server and thus makes it publicly available. As the provider, he is also responsible for the website’s contents and must obtain all the necessary licences.
    The service provider is secondly responsible and may be made liable. In Switzerland, contrary to the EU, there are no specific rules governing the liability of providers, and the general rules apply (participation in copyright infringement).

  • We distinguish between the following uses for example:

    • uploading musical works on a server (mechanical rights);
    • making musical works available on the internet (on demand);
    • sending musical works via the internet;
    • downloading musical works from the internet.

    The internet is not a legal no man’s land: copyright law regulates all uses, online  and offline. For example: uploading a musical work on a server is the same thing as (digitally) reproducing that work.

  • Pursuant to Article 10(1) of the Federal Copyright Act, the author has the exclusive right to decide if, where and how his work may be used. Article 10(2)(c) further provides for the non-exhaustive right to make a work available so that users can access it at the time and place of their choice. This right is assigned to SUISA by its members when they sign the rights administration agreement. Thanks to the reciprocity agreements signed with its sister societies, SUISA manages what is referred to as the world music repertoire in Switzerland (BGE 107 II 60). For a fee calculated in accordance with our online tariff conditions, we make this repertoire available to our clients for use on the internet

  • A web presence encompasses all the websites of a company or an individual on the internet. Different addresses (domains) qualify as different web presences. Each social media profile (Facebook, YouTube etc.) qualifies as a separate web presence. 

  • No. According to Swiss law, intranet qualifies as a public usage, not as private usage. If protected content is placed on an intranet, it must be licensed at the online tariff rates.

  • If access to your website is protected by a password and restricted to family members and a close circle of friends, Swiss copyright law does not require you to licence the music content. Each case must be considered on its own merits. Our Legal Department can assist you with specific cases. 
    Social media and intranet do not qualify as private use! 

  • Yes. But in order to do so, depending on the type of licensing, you have to exclude certain rights from the rights administration agreement signed with SUISA. This enables you to licence the excluded rights directly. 

  • Copyright law is a complex field. The following checklist can be of assistance if you have questions concerning copyrights for uploading music:

    For music and video uploads:

    Can you confirm all of the following points?

    • Did you compose the music yourself?
    • Did you write the lyrics?
    • Did you record and publish the song yourself or have you obtained permission from the producer or record company that made the recording?
    • Do you have permission from all the right-holders to use the relevant samples for your songs?
    • Can you confirm that you do not have record contract with a music label or record company? 
    • Can you confirm that you do not have a publishing deal or music publishing contract?

    If you can answer yes to all 6 questions, you may upload your music or film without a licence from SUISA.

Mitgliedschaft als Band

  • No. Band members can only join as individuals if they are the authors of the music or lyrics.

  • If all the legal requirements are satisfied, a band can protect its name by filing it as a brand name in the trademark register of the Federal Intellectual Property Institute. SUISA has nothing to do with such registration.

    The law protects an artist's name even without trademark registration. Protection is guaranteed, on the one hand, by the general rules of the Civil Code concerning names and by the Federal Law on unfair competition on the other. This legal protection is not, however, very clearly defined and the scope of such protection needs to be verified on a case-by-case basis.

    Fact Sheet: Protection band name

  • Registration has a few advantages:

    • it facilitates the burden of proof in case of a dispute;
    • it prevents other bands from choosing the same name, since checking will show that it is already taken;
    • the scope of protection is clearly limited to certain classes of goods or services (such as advertising or entertainment).

    But registration also has disadvantages:

    • it costs at least CHF 350.- for ten years;
    • it only protects the band name in Switzerland; filing abroad is possible but costs additional fees
    • filing a registration requires specialised legal knowledge and you are advised to consult a trademark lawyer - this will add to the cost. 

    Since names are protected by law even without registration (general naming rules under the Civil Code as well as the Law on unfair competition), the advantages of trademark registration should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Once its name is registered as a trademark, the band is guaranteed a monopoly on its name. This has two advantages: firstly, only the band can use the name; secondly, it can institute legal proceedings against any artist who uses the same name or one that sounds the same. But there are three limitations:

    • the protection period expires after ten years; it can then be renewed for a further ten years for CHF 700;
    • trademark protection is only valid for three classes of goods or services, for example advertising, entertainment and musical instruments. You can apply to protect additional classes of goods or services separately for a fee;
    • the owner of a trademark cannot prevent anybody from continuing to use a name that they used before the trademark was registered.
  • It costs CHF 550 to file a national registration with the Federal Intellectual Property Institute. Registration protects the band name in Switzerland in three classes (advertising, entertainment and musical instruments, for example) for ten years.  For further information, see the fee schedule of the Federal Intellectual Property Institute.

Verteilung

  • SUISA's tariffs contain the royalty rates for the use of authors’ rights. SUISA's distribution rules stipulate how royalties shall be distributed to the beneficiaries. In principle, SUISA distinguishes between distribution on a per-work basis (royalties are distributed for each work based on programme lists) and distribution on a lump-sum basis (based on statistics, broadcasting programmes and basic repertoires).

  • Royalties are paid to the relevant authors (composers, writers of lyrics, arrangers) and publishers in Switzerland and – via SUISA’s sister societies – abroad.  Each beneficiary receives a statement and the settlement of his share.

  • SUISA respects the settlements time schedule.

  • After the administration cost-coverage contribution, SUISA makes the following deductions:

    • 7.5% of revenues from performance and broadcasting in Switzerland are paid to SUISA's Pension Fund for authors and publishers;
    • 2.5% of revenues from performance and broadcasting in Switzerland are paid to the SUISA Foundation for Music which promotes musical creation in Switzerland.

    These deductions are not applied to revenues from audio and video on demand uses. 

    Revenues from abroad are distributed to SUISA members and principals after a deduction of 4% for the additional administrative costs. Legal provisions concerning withholding tax may apply. 

Declaration of an event

  • All musical events which are not private affairs must be declared. You do not need a licence to play music at an event attended by a small circle of close friends and relatives, such as a birthday party or a wedding. But as soon as you go beyond the private sphere, you have to declare the event and obtain a licence from SUISA.

  • The organiser has to apply for the licence. The organiser is the person or entity responsible for the use of the music, e.g. the owner or operator of a club, a radio or television station, or the association organising an event.

  • Because they are hired to perform – they offer a service for which they receive a fee; they do not organise the event.

Information on concerts and comparable performances

  • If you wish to perform protected music (or have it performed) in public, you must apply to SUISA for authorisation.

    All forms are available at this link.

    The forms should be completed and filed with SUISA no later than ten days after the concert. To calculate the royalties properly, SUISA needs to have a detailed list of the works performed, and a copy of your income and expenditures statement.

  • As a general rule, remuneration is charged under Common Tariff K if the public comes on purpose to listen to music. Therefore, shows, ballets and theatre performances, for example, can also be subject to CT K. 

    When music is played in the context of a dance or entertainment event, Common Tariff Hb, the tariff for dances and entertainment, will apply. CT Hb is applicable even if the concert or concert-like performance lasts less than one hour.

    The decision to apply CT K or CT Hb cannot depend solely on the popularity of the performing artists, since popularity (and an artist's attraction) evolves much too quickly.  In setting its rates, SUISA has to take other criteria into account, such as ticket prices, (concert) venue, type of advertising and other expenditure items.

    If you are at doubt when preparing your budget, it is worthwhile consulting SUISA's customer services to find out which tariff is applicable.

    For more about CT K

    For more about CT Hb
     

  • No. Royalties for concerts are calculated as a percentage of concert revenues or of the costs of music use. The financial situation of each event is thus equitably taken into account. But it is also possible to conclude an annual contract with SUISA and pay the agreed instalments for the whole year. In exchange, SUISA will grant you a licence for all your events during the year. If you are interested, please contact our customer services. 

  • SUISA normally calculates the remuneration based on a concert's revenues. In the following cases, however, the cost of the music use serves as the calculation basis:

    • if the revenues cannot be established;
    • if the costs are higher than the revenues and the customer has not prepared a budget, or if the customer assumes from the outset that the costs will have to be fully or partially covered by his own funds;
    • charity events where the profit goes to the needy.

Information about music in the hospitality industry

  • Yes. Royalties are due whenever music is performed in public – whether or not admission is charged and the musicians are paid.  The only exception is for private events such as birthday parties and weddings.

    If you don’t charge admission, the royalty is lower. Common Tariff H specifies the applicable rates.

  • No. Basically, only birthdays and weddings qualify as private events (“private circle”) since SUISA assumes that only relatives and close friends are invited. On the other hand, it can be assumed that only loose ties exist between most of the guests at other events.

  • As a rule, concerts and concert-like performances in hotels and restaurants are also invoiced based on CT K

    If guests are not at the venue for the music alone, for example, if a band is playing in the background as accompaniment for a dance, then CT H is applicable. 

    The decision is made case by case. Our customer service will be pleased to assist you in this respect. 

Fragen und Antworten zur Musiklizenzierung

Information about background music

  • Background music only has an accompanying, supplementary or secondary function.  Background music is mainly used in stores, restaurants, waiting rooms, offices, etc. or when phone calls are on hold.

  • Remuneration is charged based on the surface area on which the broadcast or performance can be heard or seen. For music on hold, the reference basis is the number of lines on the exchange.

  • Unless otherwise stipulated in the licence, SUISA basically waives the need for programme listings.

  • CT 3a regulates how much you have to pay to play background music on your business premises, for example, or to run films and TV broadcasts on screens there. The fees you pay are distributed to the composers, lyricists or performers of the music, and to the producers, screenplay writers and actors of the films and broadcasts.

    In Switzerland, artists, producers and screenplay writers are represented by the five Swiss copyright collecting societies. Since CT 3a is by definition a "common" tariff, you will receive a single invoice, and from SUISA. By paying SUISA's invoice, the claims of all five collecting societies deriving from CT 3a are extinguished.

  • You have to pay fees under CT 3a if at least one of the following circumstances applies:

    • you play background music in your restaurant, shop or in any place on your commercial premises;
    • you run films, radio or TV broadcasts on your premises;
    • you operate a guesthouse, holiday home, patient rooms or the like, and have equipped the rooms with devices to play music or show films and radio and TV broadcasts;
    • you play music on your telephone waiting loop.

    In a nutshell, since composers, lyricists, performing artists, screenplay writers and producers are by law entitled to remuneration for the use of their works and performances, whenever you use their works and performances you have to pay licence fees.

  • There are no exceptions for small shops. As soon as you play background music or films and TV broadcasts on your commercial premises you are liable for fees under CT 3a. In exchange, you have access to the world repertoire of music for a very low price.

  • Companies and organisations pay license fees according to CT 3a if they make music and/or videos available to employees, customers, guests, etc. at any of the following locations:

    • Telephone waiting loop
    • Shop
    • Hairdresser’s salon
    • Gastronomy (restaurants, bars, etc.)
    • Lift on company property
    • Office
    • Waiting room in a doctor’s surgery or official office
    • Company car/van
    • Furnished apartments/rooms rented for commercial purposes e.g. holiday homes, patient rooms, Airbnb, student rooms, apartment hotels
    • Foyer of a company building
    • Car park
    • Workshop
    • Exhibition
    • Kiosk
    • Ski lift station
    • Ice rink or sports field
    • Recreation rooms in institutions
    • Youth centre
  • You must contact SUISA of your own initiative; the simplest way to do so is online at www.suisa.ch/3a. If you use music without a licence from SUISA, SUISA can charge double for your unlicensed use. If you have forgotten to declare usage in the past, there will be no consequences as long as you contact us promptly. We will invoice you at the normal CT 3a rate for your prior unlicensed usage.

  • The rates vary depending on the surface area where you play background music or show films and broadcasts. The surface areas per location, including any guestrooms, are added together. If a customer operates several locations (business premises, shops, factories, branches, etc.), remuneration is due separately for each location.

    For background music, the fee for a surface area of 1000 m2 or less is CHF 19.20 per month (plus VAT). For the use of audiovisual works and performances (films and TV broadcasts), the fee for a surface area of 1000 mor less is CHF 20.80 per month (plus VAT). For larger areas, the fees under point 6 of the Tariff are payable additionally. These flat fees also apply to waiting loops based on the number of telephone lines.

    Thus for a very low price, CT 3a gives you access to the world repertoire of music.

  • SUISA invoices CT 3a fees once a year. As a rule, the licence is granted for a full calendar year (1.1. to 31.12) and corresponds to twelve times the monthly fee. For businesses or holiday homes that do not play background music or films all year round, the fee is only charged for the relevant number of months.

    Unless you communicate any changes to SUISA, you will be invoiced on the same basis the following year. For one-off uses (e.g. fairground stands or sports events limited in time), individual invoices will be issued for the relevant time frame; fractions of a month count as a full month. In any event, the minimum charge is equal to one month's fee.

  • Call SUISA's infoline to communicate the changes (0844 234 234). If you have not paid your invoice yet, we will cancel it and issue a new one. If you have already paid the invoice, we will refund the difference or carry it forward to the next invoice.

  • The fees specified by the Radio and Television Act (RTVA) serve to secure independent radio and TV broadcasting in Switzerland. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) distributes the proceeds to the SRG and to the other radio and TV broadcasters with a performance mandate which use them to finance their broadcasting activities.

    The licence fees collected by SUISA are owed to the composers, lyricists and performers of the music and to the producers, screenwriters and actors of the films and broadcasts. All the latter are entitled to remuneration whenever their works and performances are used outside the private sphere, e.g. as background music in stores, restaurants, lounges, working areas or as music for telephone loops. 

  • No, CT 3a licence fees are payable irrespective of the radio and TV reception fee. Even if a business does not have to pay the radio and TV reception fee - e.g. because its annual sales are less than CHF 500,000 - licence fees are due under CT 3a for music, films or TV broadcasts played outside the private sphere.

  • There are no exemptions. Whoever uses music or audiovisual works must pay the fees specified in the tariff because the rightholders are by law entitled to remuneration.

  • Yes. Billag will be collecting the licence fees on behalf of SUISA until the end of 2018. As of 1 January 2019, SUISA will collect the CT 3a licence fees directly.

  • When you buy a CD, you acquire the right to play it in your private sphere, i.e. at home or in your car. Use outside the private sphere is not included in the price of the CD. To play the CD elsewhere, you have to pay a licence fee under CT 3a.

  • No. If the holiday home or guestroom is rented and equipped with the necessary devices, the lessor/landlord must pay licence fees in accordance with CT 3a.

  • No. There are different tariffs for live music. Just as there are many possible uses of music, there are several different tariffs for the individual uses. 

Livestream

  • Live streaming is (as a rule) the direct transmission of music or events disseminated live via the internet.

    In principle, the remuneration is charged as a percentage of revenues. If there are no revenues, remuneration will be based on the total costs, or a minimum fee will be applied. 

    For more information and the licensing terms and conditions for livestreams. 

  • As a private individual, you do not need a licence from SUISA to place non-commercial livestreams on YouTube and/or Facebook/Instagram because SUISA has direct agreements with both platforms (YouTube and Facebook/Instagram). In this context, non-commercial means that no money is charged for the livestream and that it is not produced by or for a company. Charity actions whose proceeds go entirely to the needy, as well as religious services and association events qualify as non-commercial provided no money is charged.

  • On social media: whenever money is charged for the livestream, or if it is streamed by or for a company.

    On your own website: as a rule, whenever you use music protected by copyright.
    Exception: a performing artist (e.g. a band) which only ever plays its own compositions (“own use”).

  • In the case of objections, you are often told who the objecting rightholders are. In that case, it is advisable to contact them: that is the best way of finding out why the notice appeared.

  • YouTube treats archived livestreams in the same way as any other uploaded videos: rightholders can claim the content of the videos, thus enabling advertising. YouTube then shares the advertising revenues with the rightholders. This is perfectly admissible: you can only avoid it by using material that you wrote or produced yourself.

  • That depends: if you do not play music from a recording (and only stream concerts, for example), you can assume that the stream will not be blocked. However, SUISA is only responsible for copyrights and not for recording rights which are represented by the labels. Therefore, if you play music from recordings, you need to contact the labels to avoid blocking.

  • SUISA is just about to conclude a contract with Twitch. As in the case of Facebook and YouTube, you do not need a licence from SUISA for any livestreams you make available for free on Twitch. For livestreams that are not free of charge for the user, or which you otherwise monetize, you need a licence in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html)

    In your planning, you should also consider that, in addition to the authors rights, you will need to obtain a licence for performance rights (in other words, the recording rights, also known as master rights). These must be obtained directly from the labels. As a rule, it is not advisable to use any “well-known” music in your game streams on Twitch because unlicensed streams can always be blocked.

  • That may well be the case for the time being because those platforms have less effective fingerprinting systems than YouTube or Facebook. But that will change soon.

    Warning: streaming unlicensed music is not allowed on any of these platforms and may lead to the blocking of your account.

  • If your club is planning to stream commercially available recordings, you must expect the livestream to be blocked by the labels. However, if the event is streamed free of charge, you may assume that the copyrights are covered by contractual agreements with Facebook.

  • No, only if you charge money for it. Otherwise, the rights are covered by the agreement between SUISA and YouTube.

  • If you are planning to stream commercially available recordings, you must expect the livestream to be blocked. For the authors rights, a licence has to be obtained in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).

    1. From your organ/live/concert
      a) on social media: the rights are generally regulated by contracts with the platforms. You do not need a licence from SUISA.
      b) on your own website: you must obtain a licence from SUISA in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).
       
    2. From recordings
      a) on social media: you should expect the stream to be blocked (see FAQ 6)
      b) on your own website: in addition to the authors’ rights, you need licences from the labels.
  • Yes, you must obtain a licence in accordance with the livestream licensing terms and conditions (https://www.suisa.ch/de/kunden/online/video/livestreams.html).

    Moreover, DJ sets also contain recordings; the record companies or “labels” hold the recording rights.

    As a rule, the labels do not allow DJ sets on social media and will block them.

    To livestream on your own website, you will need to license the recording rights directly from the labels beforehand. Without a licence, you will be infringing those rights and may expose yourself to prosecution.

    For the time being, to the best of SUISA’s knowledge, Mixcloud is the only platform that has concluded a contract covering DJ livestreaming with most major labels. Therefore, it is advisable to livestream your DJ sets only there.

  • Yes. As soon as the stream generates revenues, you must pay license fees.

Basic questions: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Musicians have a legal claim to royalties when their music is made publicly available in videos on the internet. SUISA invoices the fees and passes them on to the authors. 

  • Yes. SUISA is responsible for collecting the fees for all videos intended for the public in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As a rule, these rights cannot be settled abroad. If your foreign partner only uses music that is not subject to royalties, it is possible that the rights for making available in Switzerland have been settled.

  • You will no longer have to pay us, respectively the rightholders (authors and publishers), any fees in the following year.

  • The fee depends on the number of videos with music made available. 

  • Yes. It covers all the videos made available on your company’s own websites and social media profiles. Once the production budget for the videos on your internet pages exceeds CHF 30,000, these licence conditions no longer apply. In this case, kindly inform us by email to gkvideo@suisa.ch.

  • For each web presence, i.e. on your Youtube and Facebook Channel, as well as on your own website, you are making 100 videos available. That makes a total of 300. And that is the number you must report.

Reporting: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • For each web presence, i.e. on your Youtube and Facebook Channel, as well as on your own website, you are making 100 videos available. That makes a total of 300. And that is the number you must report.

  • No. If you only make your videos available on intranet, we assume that you are paying the relevant fees for usage under Common Tariff 9 and through PRO LITTERIS

  • If you only have your total number of videos, regardless whether or not they contain music, you can simply report the total number. Experience shows that 75% of all videos contain music. Accordingly, we will deduct 25% from the total number reported. idéos contiennent de la musique. Dans ces conditions, nous allons réduire le nombre total de vos vidéos de 25 %. 

  • Yes, you can choose whichever reference date you wish. Based on your report, you will be invoiced for the current year. The invoice for the following year will be sent in April.
    If, in the following year, the number of videos changes and moves into a different fee bracket, you should let us know by 28 February. Maybe you could even provide a video forecast for the following year. Adjustments may be made once a year. Please report the changes in the number of videos  through our customer portal.odification du nombre de vidéos au moyen de notre portail clients.

  • On social media it is relatively easy to find the total number of videos. On Youtube, for example, you can see the total number of videos at a glance when you access your channel. On Facebook you find the number under the heading “videos”, they should be counted there. On Instagram you have to scroll through all the posts and count them individually. 

Music rights: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • If the author is not a member of any collecting society like SUISA (or Germany’s GEMA for example), you do not have to pay anything. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fee for the making-available. With such authors you can settle the synchronisation rights, and in certain cases also the production and reproduction rights, directly.

  • No. Under the licence you only pay the author’s making-available fee for the music you use on the Internet. You first have to obtain the synchronisation and production rights for each video. If you copy the music from an existing source (e.g. a sound recording or directly from the Internet), then you must also obtain the rights in the recording (known as neighboring rights).

  • You can obtain the production rights from SUISA. For the synchronisation rights, you must contact each rightholder (composer, lyricist, publisher) individually. For the neighbouring rights, you should contact either the producer of the sound recording (the “label”), IFPI, or Audion.

For the past: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Yes. The rightholders may also assert their claims retrospectively or instruct us to do so on their behalf.

Territory: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • The licence is valid worldwide if you use production music (also known as library or mood music), or music from rightholders who have concluded a contract with us (as a rule all authors in Switzerland). We cannot grant global licences for the international music repertoire.  However, if there is a conflict with a foreign sister society, for example, we will in any event act as intermediary and coordinate the proper licensing solution.

Payments: use of music on the websites of large companies

  • Your fees, net of a 15% commission, are passed on to the entitled parties. 

  • Yes, if your number of videos with music changes only slightly, or not at all, and the new number of videos is still in the same fee bracket.
    If the number of videos (for the following year) moves into a different fee bracket, you should let us know via our customer portal by 28 February.