Law & guidance

A wealth of tips, explanatory notes, advice and guidance on copyright law, SUISA membership, the music business and many other topical themes.

This section contains the collected articles from the “Gut zu wissen” (“good to know”) advice column of SUISAinfo, our magazine for members. The collection is continuously supplemented from the latest issues of SUISAinfo.

  • The contributions under the legal tips column are primarily concerned with legal issues.
  • The advice and guidance section offers guidance and background information on a variety of topics.

SUISAinfo articles are available in German, French or Italian and only sometimes in English.

The Artist’s Agreement compared with the Publishing Agreement

The economic producer (a label, for example) finances the production of sound recordings containing performances by p artists with the intent to subsequently promote and exploit the recordings commercially. The artist’s agreement regulates the resulting rights between the performer and the producer. The artist’s agreement is often confused with the publishing agreement. An overview of the differences between the two contracts.

Setting to music

Whether they write choir music or a pop-song, composers are often inspired by an existing text which they want to use or excerpt in their new composition or song. What should you be mindful of in the use of third-party texts? How do you obtain permission to set a text to music, and what points should the permission cover?

Arranging works protected by copyright

Musical works in the public domain can be arranged at will. But works which are still protected by copyright, i.e. whose author has been dead for less than 70 years, cannot be arranged without permission from the rightholders. How does one go about obtaining such permission, and what points must be regulated in the permission in order to be able to register an arrangement with SUISA?

Sampling and Remixes

The articles about arrangements in the “Good to know” series have so far focused on “conventional” arrangements of musical works. Sampling and remixes are two additional and specific forms of arrangement. What rights need to be secured when existing recordings are used to produce a new work? What agreements have to be contracted?

Arrangement of works in the public domain

Before you start arranging musical works that are not protected by copyright, it is worth being aware of the legal pitfalls in order to avoid costly stumbles.

Publishing agreements: What do I need to consider?

Publishing agreements in Switzerland are governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR) The respective statutory provisions on it are, however, not very detailed. In the case of music publishing agreements in particular, you cannot simply rely on the law. Besides, the contractual parties may also stipulate their own arrangements in the agreement. So what do you have to be aware of with respect to publishing agreements?

Wenn Band und Veranstalter ein Konzert gemeinsam organisieren

Die Urheberrechtsentschädigung für ein Konzert muss vom Veranstalter bezahlt werden. Wie ist die rechtliche Situation, wenn Musiker und Veranstalter den Anlass in einer Form der Kooperation gemeinsam durchführen? 

Erstmals seit 20 Jahren werden wieder Werke gemeinfrei

Erstmals seit 20 Jahren sind in der Schweiz per Anfang 2014 wieder Werke von Urhebern ins Allgemeingut («domaine public») gefallen. Was heisst das konkret für die Rechtsnachfolger solcher Urheber? Was bedeutet das für Urheber, die mit freien Werken arbeiten möchten?

Manager, Booker, Verträge und Beteiligungen

Ein seriöses Management kann für Musiker von grossem Nutzen sein: Das Management fördert den Verlauf der Karriere eines Künstlers und übernimmt für ihn die administrativen Arbeiten. Aber was genau ist eigentlich der Unterschied zwischen einem Manager und einem Booker? Und wie sieht es mit der Vergütung in Management-Verträgen aus?

Engagement-Vertrag: Muss der Künstler SUISA-Beitrag zahlen?

Im Konzert-Engagement-Vertrag eines Veranstalters wird verlangt, dass der Künstler die SUISA-Beiträge für den Auftritt selber bezahlen muss. Ist das rechtens?

Hilfe, der Produzent will Beteiligung!

Hat der Tontechniker im Studio Anspruch auf Beteiligung an den Songs einer Band? Was genau ist eine Bearbeitung? Und welches sind eigentlich die Aufgaben eines Produzenten?

Die Band, eine einfache Gesellschaft

So uncool der Bandvertrag auf den ersten Blick auch scheinen mag: Bereits mit einer rudimentären vertraglichen Regelung können wichtige Fragen geregelt werden.

Fragen an die SUISA: Ist das Kopieren von Musiknoten erlaubt?

Die Frage nach der Legalität des Kopierens von Musiknoten führt in einen der komplexesten Bereiche des Urheberrechts.

Fragen an die SUISA: Gilt die Zitierfreiheit auch in der Musik?

Obwohl die Zitierfreiheit in erster Linie im Zusammenhang mit Sprachwerken betrachtet werden muss, ist sie nicht auf diese beschränkt. Auch musikalische Werke, vor allem aber Werkteile können zitiert werden.

Fragen an die SUISA: Ist der Download von Musiktiteln aus Tauschbörsen erlaubt?

Wer urheberrechtlich geschützte Werke im Internet anbietet, muss über die erforderlichen Urheberrechte verfügen. Wer urheberrechtlich geschützte Werke (z.B. Musik) herunterlädt jedoch nicht.

My IPI number: What is this number for?

(available in German, French and Italian only)

Information on live streams for SUISA members

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

Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM

Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to.

The beats from others – but your own songs

The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities.

New distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights

The SUISA distribution key for performing and broadcasting rights will be changed from 01 January 2017 onwards. For works with an original publisher, the share of the author shall be 66.67% and that of the publisher 33.33%. The distribution rules are thus adapted to the CISAC key which is applied at international level.

Dual memberships: SUISA, and what else?

SUISA manages the rights for its members globally. You should carefully review and consider the relevant effort and income if you wanted to become a member of several authors’ societies.

How SUISA distributes levies collected for private copying

In 2014, SUISA has collected approx. CHF 13m on the basis of the common tariffs from private copying levies, of which about CHF 6.5m can be apportioned to SUISA members. The distribution of such revenue is made on a lump-sum basis, as there is no programme material. Here is an overview how SUISA distributes the private copying levies.

Play abroad, communicate with SUISA at home

How do I get access to my copyright remuneration for my concerts abroad? What do I need to consider when registering works with SUISA if the co-author of my song is a member of a foreign collective management organisation? Important and frequently asked questions on international musical activities are answered in the following.


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