The management of performance and reproduction rights in musical works is subject to State regulation in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. That means that these rights can only be managed with an authorisation from the regulatory authorities (IPI or AfV (Amt für Volkswirtschaft, the Liechtenstein regulatory authority)). Whosoever manages these rights and issues licences without such an authorisation is liable to prosecution. Offering licence-free music, for which an authorisation is required but has not been obtained, is unlawful in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Time and again we have established that licence-free music is not licence free at all, and that SUISA holds the rights in the works concerned. To avoid such misuse, persons who intend to use licence-free music are required to file a list of all the music titles involved with SUISA, indicating the relevant titles as well as the composers and lyricists. This enables us to verify that the music in question is effectively licence-free.

Swissperform’s neighbouring rights, which SUISA manages together with its own authors’ rights, and which are generally incorporated in most tariffs, can - by law - only be managed by Swissperform and SUISA to the extent commercially available sound and video recordings are used. Music recordings which are advertised as licence-free and are offered for sale to the public (e.g. online) are deemed to be "commercially available". 

This means that you must in any event pay the fee stipulated in the tariff for the neighbouring rights in these music recordings. For music not to be deemed “commercially available”, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • all the entitled parties (artists and producers) in a recording must have comprehensively (i.e. not limited to individual uses) waived all their rights to the exploitation (licensing against a fee) of the recording, and their waiver must have been confirmed to the relevant collecting society (Swissperform or SUISA). For verification purposes, SUISA requires access to the waivers or waiver agreements and checks that the waiver is respected;


  • the recording is commissioned by you, used exclusively by you, and may not be passed on by you to third parties. As regards broadcasting rights (CT S), no more than five broadcasting companies may commission such a recording as a co-production, and then use it. For verification purposes, SUISA requires access to the production contract and checks that the exclusivity of use is observed.

Are you a broadcasting company within the meaning of the federal radio and television broadcasting act (RTVG), and do you use commercially available recordings as licence-free music within the above definition? In that case, by law, the collecting societies are also responsible for managing the reproduction right (i.e. the right to store in your systems). This means that – in addition to the fee for neighbouring rights – you must pay one third of the fee for author’s rights under Common Tariff S (CT S).