Association of Swiss Advertisers: composers should waive their fees

Some members of SUISA recently received a letter from the Association of Swiss Advertisers (SWA). SWA is disturbed by the licence terms for online advertising campaigns. Its letter contains the absurd demand that authors waive their fees for the use of music in online advertising campaigns.

Licence terms have applied to the use of music in online advertising campaigns since the beginning of 2016. This area is not subject to federal supervision, and authors and publishers are free to determine the licence terms themselves. Nonetheless, SUISA was prepared to find a joint solution with user associations, such as SWA – unfortunately, without success. SWA simply criticised SUISA’s approach, but did not make any suggestions of its own, which led to talks being abandoned in October 2016.

Last week, SWA wrote to various members of SUISA – composers and lyricists. In its letter, SWA repeats its criticism of the licence terms. In the final paragraph, the association goes a step further and demands: ‘In the interim, as a gesture of goodwill, SUISA should refrain from demanding licence fees from advertising clients for online campaigns!’

In other words, composers of film music should waive the fees due to them for the use of their music on online platforms. At the same time, advertising clients continue to use the spots to advertise their products. This demand is inappropriate.

In October 2016, SUISA published a Q&A on the licence terms for online advertising campaigns. Here are the key points:

  • Advertising clients and online platforms are jointly liable for compensation of authors and publishers.
  • The terms and conditions of the platforms usually state that advertising clients are solely responsible for ensuring the proper licencing of the music used in the spots.
  • The SWA disputes this responsibility, believing it to rest solely with the online platform. However, large, and in particular international, platforms often have no knowledge of the advertising running.
  • The fee of 3.3% is based on tariffs for the use of music in audiovisual works. The law sets the maximum percentage for the use of music at 10% – the fee for the use of music in audiovisual works is a third of this figure.

You can find more information on online (advertising) campaigns on SUISA’s website.