Work registration 

You should be aware that you can only declare works if you are registered with SUISA as an author or a publisher.

Works can only be entered in accounting if registration is complete.

Register your works online: www.suisa.ch/my-account

Please note: 

The following works cannot be registered online and must be registered using the works registration form:

  • Works created for the soundtrack of an audiovisual production (film music)
  • arrangements of free (i.e. not protected by copyright) original works
  • Literary works (texts without music).

Registration of audiovisual productions

Send registration to: SUISA Film, Lausanne 
SUISA
11bis, Av. du Grammont
1007 Lausanne
filmproduction@suisa.ch

FAQ: Frequently asked questions

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.

    Further information
     

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.

    Fact sheet on sampling 

  • 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.

Questions? 

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