SACEM's act of constitution, Paris (1851)

Source: N/A

SACEM's act of constitution, Paris (1851), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | No Commentaries
Translation only | Transcription only | Show all | Bundled images as pdf

8 translated pages

Chapter 1 Page 1




Promulgated in Paris, before Mr. HALPHEN, notary, and his colleague,

31 January 1851

      FIRST ARTICLE – A public society has been established amongst the persons appearing here and
by those who may later join them, in accordance with Ch. III, tit. IX, book III of the Code Civil, under
the name of

      ART. 2 – The seat of the Society is fixed to be in Paris, at the central Agency, currently in rue Sainte-
Anne, n° 63 (subsequently registered at rue de la Victoire, 15) (1).

      ART. 3. – The duration of the Society is to be five years, starting on 1 March 1851, and it can be extended,
as will be explained later on. (2)

Purpose of the Society

      ART. 4 – The purpose of the Society is:
      1° The mutual defense of authors and composers of music, either in conjunction with their publishers, or
without the support of the latter, with regard to the owners of public establishments which perform literary or
musical works, with or without the original words – such as the following: theatres, concerts, cafés-chantants,
and all other venues which exploit literary and musical productions other than theatre plays;
      2° The collection of authors' and composers' royalties from the aforementioned establishments, in Paris, in
the départements and abroad, and the lumping together of just one fraction of these royalties, as is explained
further down.

Society Fund

      ART. 5 - The common fund of the Society shall consist of:
      1° a deduction of 1/2 % which each author, composer and publisher agrees shall be levied on the gross
revenues of any recitals or performances of works that are carried out in Paris or in the départements;
      2° benefits of any kind which might accrue to the Society in terms of donations, gifts or otherwise;
      3° damages resulting from legal decisions in favour of members of the Society;
      4° unspent revenues, invested sums, unless their partition has been stopped.


(1) And currently rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 17.
(2) It was extended on 19 December 1881 until 1 March 1886.

Chapter 1 Page 2

- 2 -

Expenses of the Society.

      ART. 6. – The expenses of the Society consist of:
      1° General business and royalty collection costs;
      2° Judicial and other expenses, necessary for the drawing up and maintenance of contracts, the defense of the
rights of the Society, and those of members of the Society, against third parties which have dealings with authors,
composers and publishers, and against all others;
      3° Unforeseen costs provided that they have been approved by the Syndicate.

Profits to be divided.

      ART. 7. – The profits to be divided resulting from the communal or Society fund will consist of receipts that have
not been spent and of the revenue from funds set up for the benefit of the Society.
      These profits will be shared proportionally or pro rata on the basis of the deposits paid by the co-sharers, on
account of the deduction levied from the royalties collected on their behalf, but only until the termination of the

Participation of each Society member in the expenses
of the Society.

      ART. 8. – Since the Society must not, under any pretext, vote for any outlay of money that would exceed its
capital, nor take out any loan, promissory note or bonds whatsoever, the expenses to be borne by each one of the
associates may be equal to, but must never surpass, the amount of the deductions made for royalty collection costs
and for the common fund.

Collection and distribution of royalties due to the authors
and composers of music.

      ART. 9 - All the royalties due to authors and composers from their musical works, such as: romances, chansons
or comic songs, with or without words, comic or dramatic scenes, choruses, symphonies, quadrilles, waltzes, polkas,
redowas, and generally all musical works which are sung or performed in theatres, concert halls, at balls, in cafés,
public venues, etc., etc. will be collected, under the supervision of the Society's Syndicate, by the Agent-General, so that
they can be distributed among the entitled persons, save for the deduction referred to in Art. 5, as well as the costs
and the collection charge of the agency.

Administration of the Society.

      ART. 10 – The Society shall be represented by a commission which adopts the title of Syndicate of Authors,
Composers and Publishers of Music.
      The Syndicate will appoint a representative who shall have the title of Agent-General, and it will also select the
judicial council of the Society.

      ART. 11 – The Syndicate shall be made up of twelve members, namely: four authors of libretti or song texts,
four composers of music and four publishers.
      The Syndicate will nominate from amongst its members a President, a Vice-President, and, if it should be
necessary, also a Treasurer and Secretary.

Chapter 1 Page 3

- 3 -

      The twelve founding members of the Society, who are currently acting as the Syndicate, shall continue to
act in this capacity for a whole year, starting from 1 March 1851, i.e. until 1 March 1852, at which point a meeting
of the members of the Society will be held in order to decide on the successors of the outgoing members of the
Syndicate, as is outlined in Art. 12 below.
      Art. 12 – The Syndicate shall be nominated by the general assembly of members of the Society, and will be
made up, as explained above, of twelve members elected for four years, whereby one quarter of the posts, taken
from each of the three categories, are to be filled afresh every year.
      The members who are to leave the Syndicate will be drawn by lots except where a member has completed
four years of service on the Syndicate.
      Any member leaving the Syndicate who has served in it for four years, may not be re-elected until an interval
of one year has passed.
      In the case of the resignation or decease of a member, his successor will be chosen by the Syndicate for the
category to which that member had belonged, subject to the approval of the general assembly at its next meeting.
      If all members of the Syndicate wish to resign, they can only do this in the general assembly, which will
immediately proceed to draw up a new Syndicate. In such a case, the resigning members may be re-elected, and
the obligatory annual retirement of a quarter of these will continue to be regulated by the drawing of lots at the
general assembly.
      In the case of a partial resignation tendered at the general assembly, the successor will be nominated by the
general assembly, so that he may complete the term of service of the resigning member.
      Provided that, as a result of decease or partial resignations which might take place in the interval between
general assemblies, the quorum of the Syndicate does not fall below nine, the Syndicate may legitimately continue
its tasks without having to arrange for replacements, or, alternatively, it can replace the resigning or deceased
members with those members of the Society who obtained the most votes at the last election.
      Those members who fail to attend meetings of the Syndicate over a period of more than two months,
without an excuse that is judged legitimate by the Syndicate, shall be regarded as having resigned their posts.
      In the case of decease or grave illness of more than three members, the Syndicate must arrange to have
them replaced immediately, so that the quorum of at least nine members is met.

      ART. 13 – The following members of the Society may not form part of the Syndicate: managers, directors,
or orchestra conductors at public venues or enterprises which have had, or are having, dealings with the Society.
      Those members of the Syndicate who in the course of exercising their duties find themselves in a position
whereby the above cause for exclusion applies to them, shall be regarded as resigning from the Syndicate.

      ART. 14 – Resolutions of the Syndicate will be carried by a majority of the members thereof who are
      The Syndicate may only legitimately proceed to vote on resolutions when a quorum of at least six members
are present. If an evenly split vote should occur, the vote of the President will be decisive.

Chapter 1 Page 4

- 4 -

      The Syndicate will determine the internal administrative regulations that are to apply among its members.
      It will draw up a separate agreement with the Agent-General:
      1° Regarding the mode of collection and the proportion of royalties to be collected;
      2° Regarding the commission or the royalty entitlement of the Agent with a view to his remuneration;
      3° For the general expenses of the Society which might be left to the care of the aforementioned
      A record of the proceedings will be maintained by an employee of the Agent in the capacity of

Responsibilities of the Syndicate

      ART. 15 – The Syndicate will represent the Society in all conventions, acts, legal proceedings, disputes
and circumstances which are of concern to it.
      It will negotiate, contract, litigate, compromise, and commit in the name of the Society, and will conduct
all administrative dealings: it will conclude with all establishments or entrepreneurs of whatever sort the agreements
which are to determine the royalties of authors, composers, and publishers of music.
      It will ensure the fulfilment of such agreements, both by members of the Society, and by third parties which
shall have entered into dealings with the Society.
      It will authorize and follow through all legal proceedings which any member of the Society may happen to
institute as a result of some performance of his works or musical properties [propriétés musicales] and the royalties
duly ensuing therefrom. These proceedings will be instituted or upheld upon the request of members of the Syndicate
or its representative, or also at the discretion of the Syndicate, upon the request of authors, composers and publishers
or of one of the latter, as demanded by the particular case, and in all cases through the agency of the Agent-General,
the expenses being borne by the Society.
      However, the Syndicate must not initiate any legal proceedings without obtaining beforehand the advice of the
judicial council that is to be consulted in this regard.
      The Syndicate will supervise the collection of royalties due to members of the Society, which is to be carried out
by the Agent-General. It will dispose of all the Society funds and decide how these are to be invested, transferred, and
      It will authorize any expenses incurred by the Agent-General, will accord the remedies that are invoked by members
of the Society, their widows or heirs.
      It will give its formal approval to all transfers of income, sign these and collect the required fee.

      ART. 16 – Every member of the Society, by virtue of signing up to the present articles, assigns to the members of
the Syndicate a special mandate whereby it may initiate on the former's behalf and upon his request, but at the expense
of the Society:
      1° Any proceedings which he might personally have vis-à-vis third parties, following the public performance [audition]
of his works or musical properties [propriétés musicales] and the royalties ensuing from said performance;
      2° Any proceedings which concern all members of the Society and which it would be helpful to undertake upon the
the request of all or several of the latter.
      The Syndicate shall have the right to replace, under the terms of the present mandate, all agents, solicitors, barristers
and counsels for the defence at the courts of first instance, appeal or cassation, or before arbitrating judges.

Chapter 1 Page 5

- 5 -

      No legal proceedings may be instituted at the expense of the Society until after the matter has been discussed
by the Syndicate and the advice of the judicial council has been received, as explained above.
      In such cases where the Syndicate does not consider it appropriate to undertake legal proceedings at the expense
of the Society, the member concerned shall be entitled to do so at his own expense, risk and peril, but only after the
Syndicate has formally refused to occupy itself with the matter.

      ART. 17 – The Syndicate is invested with the most extensive powers in order to enable it to take all measures vis-
à-vis public enterprises or establishments which it deems appropriate for the fulfilment of agreements and for safeguarding
the royalties due to members of the Society and their interests.
      Once adopted, such measures will become binding for all members of the Society to the same extent as the provisions
of the present act.
      All disputes raised by authors, composers and publishers of music amongst each other, in particular with regard
to the composition of, and property in, musical works, are to be settled, without right of appeal, by the Syndicate, which, if
it so requires, in order to shed light on the matter, may refer it to the judicial council.
      The members who form part of the Syndicate are bound by the acceptance of their mandate to fulfil as diligently and as
best as possible the duties which are imposed on them by the preceding articles. Their obligations are unsalaried, as they will
take them upon themselves for no other reason than their devotion to the interests of the Society.

      ART. 18 – Members of the Society are forbidden to arrange for any lyrical work, consisting of music and/or words, to
be staged, sung or performed in a theatre or public establishment of whatever sort, except through the agency of the Syndicate
or the duly authorized Agent-General.
      The only exceptions to this clause are as follows: dramatic works (operas, vaudevilles or comical scenes) staged or to be
staged in theatres, and for which the collection of royalties is or will be carried out by the agents of the dramatic authors
Concerned, since this Society does not wish to encroach in any way on the functions or royalties of the Society of Playwrights
[Société des Auteurs Dramatiques], such as they are currently in place.
      All members of the Society are, moreover, forbidden to enter into any private agreements with theatres, cafés-chantants,
concerts and public establishments of whatever kind.

      ART. 19 – In the partition of authorial royalties collected at concerts, cafés-chantants, and generally in all public
establishments, the author of the text will be entitled to a third, the composer of the music to a third and the publisher to a
third of these royalties.
      With regard to royalties collected in theatres on behalf of dramatic authors, these will be divided equally between the
author of the text and the composer.

      ART. 20 – Authors and composers shall be entitled to have their works published by any publisher whom they wish to
engage for this task.
      Music publishers who are members of the Society are in their turn entitled to publish any musical work by an author or
composer, regardless of whether the latter is a member or non-member; but under no circumstances can authors and composers
transfer the

Chapter 1 Page 6

- 6 -

right which they have already assigned by virtue of the present, namely: the right to prohibit or allow the
public performance of their works.

Regarding the Agent-General

      ART. 21 – The Syndicate is authorized to choose a mandatory who shall bear the title of Agent-General.
      The functions of the Agent-General comprise no more than a mandate and are essentially revocable, in those
cases that have been envisaged by the Syndicate, at the time of the Agent's appointment. These responsibilities consist
of managing and administering the Society in a general and complete manner, in accordance with the instructions
received from the Syndicate.
      And in particular he is entrusted with:
      1° Ensuring that all resolutions adopted by the Syndicate are executed;
      2° Keeping the records and accounts of the Society, and taking care of all necessary correspondence regarding the
collection of royalties or receipts;
      3° Overseeing, in collaboration with the Treasurer, the Society's common fund.
      Any accounts held by the Society in banks or cash depositories or with public administrations must be registered
in the name of the Treasurer and the Agent-General, and the withdrawal of sums deposited there may only be undertaken
by these two in conjunction;
      4° Collecting the royalties due to members of the Society for musical works performed in Paris or in the départements
or abroad, as well as membership fees; appointing any necessary agents in the provinces and abroad to act under his
      5° Determining the conditions of partition of royalties and paying out the share that is due to each member of
the Society, having obtained beforehand the Syndicate's approval.
      6° Keeping track of, and instituting all legal proceedings and actions which shall have been authorized by the
Syndicate; and ensuring that these are seen through or waived, as the case may be;
      7° So as to obtain all possible assistance and authorizations, he is to submit all the necessary petitions and, in
General, to do everything that the circumstances require for upholding the interests of the Society.

      ART. 22 – The Agent-General may only collect royalties, be it in Paris, or the départements, or abroad, on behalf
of members of the Society. Nevertheless, he is authorized to cash in royalties due to authors, composers and publishers
of music for whom he is already acting as a mandatory, provided that he secures the Syndicate's formal approval in
writing and that he does this in the name of the Society.
      He is not allowed to acquire for himself any authorial royalties or publisher's copyrights [propriété d'éditeur],
nor may he carry on any business whatsoever with such royalties and rights.

      ART. 23 – (1) M. Léopold ROLLOT is appointed to the post of Agent-General of the Society, for the whole
duration of this Society.

Regarding general assemblies

      ART. 24 – Each year the members of the Society shall come together for a general assembly on the day
announced by the Syndicate and at its request.
      In the course of the year extraordinary general assemblies may be convoked on the strength of resolutions adopted
by the Syndicate and at its request.

(1) This agent was discharged on 19 March 1880 and replaced, on 1 October 1880, by M. Victor

Chapter 1 Page 7

- 7 -

      During the course of the year general assemblies may be convoked, albeit for a special purpose, upon a request
lodged with the Syndicate by at least twenty-five members of the Society.
      The general assemblies are to be presided by the President or the Vice-President of the Syndicate, whose
members shall make up the Committee of the general assembly.
      The general assembly is to settle all questions which are referred to it by the Syndicate. It shall appoint the
members of the Syndicate; hold elections to be decided by a majority vote on the basis of the rising or remaining
seated of the members of the Society in attendance; approve the annual accounts, for the examination of which it is
entitled, if it deems it appropriate, to appoint in advance, from one year to the next, a commission of five members
chosen from amongst its own ranks.
      The appointment of members of the Syndicate shall take place by voting on a list of candidates, by an absolute
majority for the first round of voting and by relative majority for all subsequent rounds.
      The proceedings of the assembly are to be recorded in a register by the President and the Committee, who are
to affix their signatures thereto.
      In the absence of the aforementioned President and Vice-Presidents, one of the members will preside over the
      The general assembly will be convoked by means of sending out letters to members' places of residence; and it
may legitimately determine the number of members who are present, save for the exceptions resulting from Articles
25 and 29 below.

Regarding the dissolution and winding up of the Society

      ART. 25 – If, at the end of each five-year period, starting from the constitution of the Society (1 March, 1851,
Art. 3), and in the month immediately preceding this term of expiry, the institution of liquidation proceedings has
not been requested by two thirds of the members, the Society will be successively carried on for a further period
of five years, without the need for any formalities or deliberation by the Society to decide on this.
      In that case the Society will continue to operate in accordance with the same statutes, and the Syndicate as
well as the Agent-General will continue to exercise their duties.

      ART. 26 – The Society is not to be dissolved upon the natural or civil death, suspension, subjection to trusteeship,
declaration of bankruptcy, exclusion or resignation (voluntary or decreed) of any one or several of its members - it will
continue to operate on behalf of the other members.
      The revenue from deductions which a member who ceases to form part of the Society, has discharged in compliance
with Art. 5, as well as his part in the common fund, will accrue to the Society.
      Royalties that are collected for unknown authors, composers or publishers will, after a year and one day have passed
without these being claimed by anyone, are to devolve to the Society and paid into the common fund.

      ART. 27 – In the case that the Society's income fails to cover its expenses, the Syndicate must convene a general
assembly extraordinarily, and the latter will decide, after hearing the Syndicate's, whether the Society is to be dissolved.
      However, if the general assembly decides against dissolution, any member of the Society who wishes to is entitled
to leave it.

Chapter 1 Page 8

- 8 -

      ART. 28 – Upon the Society's termination, the liquidation proceedings will be undertaken by the Syndicate
which is acting in this capacity at the time, with the assistance of the Agent-General.

Miscellaneous provisions.

      ART. 29 - All modifications to the present statutes must be proposed at general assemblies; they must be voted
on by the members who are then present or ratified by subsequent approval, such that they are supported by at least one
half plus of the registered members of the Society.

      ART. 30 – 1° Each infringement of the present act will render the infringer liable to an fine ranging from one
hundred up to three thousand francs, payable to the Society fund.
      2° This fine will be adjudicated by the Syndicate, which is invested with all necessary authority as arbitrator
and judge of the last instance.
      3° The collection of fines is to be dealt with by the diligence of the Agent-General, who may use all available legal
remedies, in particular that of keeping back the royalties he has collected on a member who refuses to pay his fine, notwithstanding all
assignments [transports] or contestations submitted after the present stipulations which will be accepted as [? - comme
transport anticipé
] .
      4° The signatories invest the Agent-General with the full power to keep back royalties in this way and to deposit the
amount in question with the Society's fund.
      5° The infringer can be excluded from the Society if such a resolution is adopted at a general assembly; in this
case, the provisions of Art. 26 §2 besides will be brought fully to bear.
      6° The following are to be excluded from the Society and shall cease entirely to form part of it:
            1° Society members who have been sentenced to punishments involving death, personal restraint, penal
      servitude and loss of civil rights, or even just to punishments involving the loss of civil rights [peines infamantes];
            2° Those who have been sentenced to imprisonment for their crimes, by the application of Art. 463
      of the Code pénal;
            3° Those who have been sentenced for the commission of acts specified in Art. 330, 334, 379, 405, 408.
      The Syndicate may always, following a specially adopted decision, authorize the Agent-General to collect and
hand over royalties due to persons who are affected by the present article.

      ART. 31 – In the case of a complete and enduring success for the activities of this Society, a relief fund will be
set up for the assistance of Society members who have fallen on hard times due to misfortune, old age or infirmity.

      ART. 32 (the last) – The members of the judicial council chosen by the Syndicate are as follows:
                  Maître CARABY, lawyer;
                  Maître A. DOUMERC, lawyer;
                  Maître G. AGUILLON, lawyer at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation;
                  Maître L. MASSE, solicitor;
                  Maître DELALOGE, attorney at the Tribunal of Commerce;
                  Maître REY, notary;
                  Maître PANNET, bailiff.

La Fère – Printing house BAYEN.

Translation by: Freya Baetens


Copyright History resource developed in partnership with:

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

With the exception of commentaries that are available under a CC-BY licence (compliant with UKRI policy) you may not publish individual documents or parts of the database for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) is co-published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK and CREATe, School of Law, University of Glasgow, 10 The Square, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK