SIAE and Music at Weddings and Events in Italy

Understand the role of the SIAE when planning an event with live or recorded music and dancing, such as a wedding, a launch or a party...

The Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori (SIAE) is an organisation which collects the revenues due for the use of works protected by copyright, and redistributes this to the rightful owners (autori) and their publishers (editori).

Anyone who uses copies of works protected by copyright in any form of entertainment must obtain prior authorisation from the holders of the rights (Act April 22, 1941, n. 633). This covers any instance where pre-recorded music is played or live music performed, and includes the use of copyright-protected music at weddings and corporate events.

Intellectual property is protected by law until 70 years after the death of the last author. For example, royalties are not required to perform a piece by Beethoven, but to perform Fly Me to the Moon rights will need to be paid to the heirs of the author (Bart Howard) until 2074.

The fees required for copyright may not be treated as tax or duty but as the remuneration for work done by the creators of intellectual works. The misuse of the works is considered a criminal offense under Italian law.

Who Pays the SIAE?

The SIAE charges event organisers.

In the case of weddings, the spouses are considered the event "organisers", although the management of a venue may have some responsibility. However the wedding planners, musicians, catering company and others involved in the event are not responsible.

In the case of a corporate event, the "organiser" is the company that organises the entire event and the permit is paid for by the final customer.

The permit must be paid in advance (if only by the day before the event).

Some event venues have agreements with the SIAE, particularly for the pre-recorded music used; although this generally doesn't cover music played by DJs or musicians performing. In these cases the costs are already amortised in the price of the venue.

Getting an SIAE Permit

The SIAE office closest to the venue where the event is to take place has competent jurisdiction. Call before going to the office - open hours may vary.

  • The SIAE website has a map showing the offices: Click here

Price of an SIAE permit

The cost of a performance permit depends on three factors:

  1. Category of the location
  2. Number of guests
  3. Type of entertainment

Locations are mainly divided in two categories: standard locations and luxury locations. What distinguishes these two categories is the price per person paid by the event organiser (although without an official source, this price should be somewhere around €75 per person and in practice, almost all locations that host weddings and corporate dinners are considered "luxury" locations).

The number of guests fall into several pricing categories: 1 to 100, from 100 to 150, from 150 to 200 and so on. For receptions or parties exceeding 300 guests, a flat rate is applied.

The entertainment can be of two types: with, or without dancing. Performance permits are more expensive for events with dancing.

How to buy an SIAE permit

When making an application for a permit, the organiser is asked to declare these three parameters: location type, number of guests and whether there is to be dancing.

The accuracy of their statement may be verified on the day of the event, at the venue, by an SIAE commissioner. If there is a discrepancy between what has been requested on the permit and what takes place on the day, the organiser may be severely penalised and the music may be discontinued.

The bordereau

Together with the SIAE permit, the organiser receives a form commonly called a borderò or bordereau (music programme) that must be completed by the performer with all the songs performed in totality or in part. This form must be sent back to the SIAE office in the days following the event.

Note: Organisers should ensure that the musician (or musicians) are members of the ENPALS (Ente Nazionale di Previdenza e di Assistenza per i Lavoratori dello Spettacolo e Dello Sport Professionistico) the national welfare and assistance company for workers in the performing arts, or a similar organisation.

Information provided by Alberto Bompani, ALMA Project, Via della Vigna Nuova, 24 - 50123 Firenze. Fax: +39 055 7188152; www.almaproject.it / al[email protected]