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Creative Commons

Article 5(3) of Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 (hereafter: the "EU Directive") provides that rightholders shall have the right to grant licences for non-commercial uses of any rights, categories of rights or types of works and other subject-matter that they may choose.


Switzerland is not directly bound by European law. However, SUISA works closely with European collecting societies through over one hundred mutual representation agreements concluded with its foreign sister societies. Moreover, SUISA operates in Liechtenstein, which is a member of the European Economic Area.

Accordingly, SUISA has to comply with the Liechtenstein legislation on collecting societies and allow its members to grant non-commercial licences. It has chosen to do so by accepting that its members attribute certain Creative Commons licences.


To qualify for the application of a Creative Commons licence, a work must already have been registered by means of a declaration of works. Moreover, all the rightholders must be members of SUISA and must consent to the attribution of the licence in question.


What licences can be attributed?

SUISA has decided to recognise three types of Creative Commons non-commercial licences for use by its members:

The above three licences are irrevocable licences for free dissemination. This means that a work under any one of these three licences will never be able to generate royalties for its authors.


We would also point out that Creative Commons licences can only apply to uses for which SUISA's tariffs foresee an individual per-work fee, not a flat-rate or all-in fee. This means, for example, that  Creative Commons licences cannot be taken into account with regard to works used for background music or mood music (CT 3a), since the fees charged by SUISA for such uses are all-in fees based on the size of the area in which the music is played and not on the works actually played.

Definition of non-commercial use

Non-commercial use means a use which is not intended, directly or indirectly, for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.


The following uses, for example, are non-commercial:

  • charity events (concerts or other musical event) with surplus revenue going to needy causes, provided the organisers and musicians work for free;
  • production of sound and audiovisual recordings, provided they are distributed for free and for self-promotion purposes.


Conversely, the packaging or use of a work or a copy of a work:


  • by a profit-making entity of any kind whatsoever;
  • in the framework or in association with profit-making activities;
  • involving a counterpart, of a financial or other nature, regardless of the beneficiary, title or grounds;
  • in exchange for other goods, whether or not the exchange generates direct or indirect revenues or gives rise to a payment of any nature whatsoever;
  • by broadcasting companies (radio and television);
  • in establishments open to the public such as restaurants, bars, cafes, concert halls, department stores, retail shops;
  • at places of work
  • shall be deemed a commercial use. 


Applying a Creative Commons licence to a work

As stated above, to qualify for a Creative Commons licence, a work must already have been registered through the filing of a declaration of works.


SUISA must then be notified of the Creative Commons licence using the form “Placing a work under a Creative Commons licence”. The information indicated on this form must match that contained in the declaration of works. You must also indicate which of the three licences you intend to apply to the work in question. The form should be addressed to SUISA's Members Division (address).


You are required to provide true, accurate and complete information about the works covered by a Creative Commons licence, especially with regard to your authorship and any other rightholders involved. Users of your works who invoke application of a Creative Commons licence will have to specify this to SUISA, or to the foreign collecting society, when declaring the use. Our staff will then verify that the use in question effectively qualifies as non-commercial.



“Placing a work under a Creative Commons licence (CC licence)”




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