SEMU - Muziekuitgevers / Editeurs de Musique
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Frequently asked questions

1. Are Semu licences compulsory?

No, of course not, the licence offered by Semu is completely without obligation. The user (school, choir, orchestra, band, ...) can choose to only work with original scores. Of course Semu would prefer this but if the user, for whatever reason, has a real need for using copies Semu is able to help by providing a licence to its repertoire, allowing a copy to be used under the provisions of this licence.

2. Why does Semu prohibit copying?

Semu does not prohibit copying (without consent) in schools, Belgian and international laws do. Copying without consent is a criminal offence (counterfeit), and is more commonly known as "piracy". Semu offers a solution through a licence or the "consent" to use copies subject to the conditions of the contract. Illegal copying is like stealing the fee that rightfully belongs to the composer and publisher. In addition, committing this kind of offence in a school environment aggravates the circumstances. The law texts can be found here.

3. Which repertoire does Semu represent?

Semu represents the majority of Belgian collections, not only the current active collections, but also the old collections which are still protected. Apart from this Semu manages hundreds of foreign collections (see also question 5). Semu's repertoire can be consulted at all times and by appointment at the head office. This has been possible in all openness for many years because it is one of our legal obligations.

4. Are Semu's proposed rates higher than in other countries?

No, quite the contrary in fact. Let's make a comparison with a neighbouring country with regard to part-time art education:

- in France: each part-time art education student pays +/- 7 euro per school year. This allows between 26 to 30 pages of copies to be made a year at most. A special sticker needs to be stuck on each copy. This translates into +/- 25 eurocent a copy.

- in the Netherlands : the rate comprises 2 parts, a fixed part per school and a part that is calculated on the basis of the number of "teaching hours". Under no circumstances are copies of entire pieces to be made though! All the same it still works out at +/- 15 eurocent a copy.

- in Belgium: Semu suggests a rate of EUR 3.8 (for students with a reduced tuition fee) or EUR 6.8 (for students with a full tuition fee). Semu takes into account normal education practices as much as possible.

5. What about foreign collections?

To put it simply, Semu represents foreign collections in two different ways:
- on the level of individual contracts between publishers (sub-publications, reciprocal distribution, mandates, individual subscription, ...)
- through reciprocity agreements (also known as "bilateral agreements") with our foreign sister companies. The foreign company collects for our repertoire, and we collect for the sister company's repertoire on our territory. Each management company works in this way allowing the biggest possible repertoire to be offered to the user.

The laws governing this are very complex, not in the least because just about every country has its own version and method of working for the reprography. To steer all this, Semu is an Associate Member of IFRRO (International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations), a unified world-wide organisation that maintains the contacts between the different rights organisations and also provides the necessary legal documentation and support.

6. Why does Semu carry out establishments (of facts) and inspections?

Semu is obliged by law to carry out these inspections. The Belgian Copyright Act obliges us to effectively "manage" and monitor these rights and to collect and distribute the fees. If Semu were not to do this it would be in default and risks losing its recognition.
Inspections are never much fun, not for the person subjected to an inspection nor for the inspector. This is why Semu's alternative is the licence: students are no longer obliged to buy all the originals, the teacher is able to do his/her job in full educational freedom and piece of mind and the publisher receives a small fee for the lost income.

7. Are these establishments (of facts) only carried out during public events?

No, they can also be carried out in classrooms. In response to a question of the Educational Secretariat of the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (OVSG) the Inspection department replied as follows in September 2000 already: classrooms are not private which means they do not provide any "immunity". Only private schools might. We will gladly provide a copy of this official response.

8. But we already pay Reprobel for photocopies?

Of course, Semu is both partner and director of Reprobel for the reprography fees of music publishers. The reprography fee that users usually pay to Reprobel only applies to copies of short fragments that are used by way of illustration (e.g. a theme in the AMC or Music history lesson, i.e. never to be performed), and the normal exploitation of the publisher may not be damaged.

9. Does the composer (and author or arranger) receive a share of the licence fee?

Yes, that is also governed by law. The publisher needs to pay a share of the fee to the composer, author and arranger every time a piece is used. This is laid down in the individual publishing contract between the publisher and the composer.

A new model publishing contract is available on this site, fully in line with current laws and techniques. The additional extra fees for composers and authors have already been integrated in this new contract.

10. May extra copies be made if there are not enough copies in the purchased set?

Not without permission. Either extra copies need to be purchased, or the individual publisher's consent needs to be requested, or it might be governed by our general licence.

11. May the school or a teacher purchase books or scores and then rent them out to students?

No, absolutely not! Contrary to wrong information spread by some people, this is also subjected to the prior written consent of the copyright owner. Without permission it is an offence.

12. May only the text of a piece be copied?

No, it does not matter whether it concerns the musical notation or merely the text. Both are protected and may not be copied or arranged without permission.

13. Is a teacher allowed to devise his/her own method based on copies of pieces?

No, absolutely not! Again, contrary to wrong information spread by some people this is also punishable.

14. Can a separate arrangement of a piece be made?

Yes, but only with the copyright owner's consent (composer or publisher, if it concerns a published piece).

15. Is this licence only offered to part-time art education?

No, a similar licence is also offered without obligation to vocal and instrumental ensembles (choirs, hafabra music, string orchestras, ...). Of course this will be subjected to specific conditions and rates for this sector.