Copyright is a special form of property. So when a rightsholder dies, a number of special issues arise in addition to those of a standard estate. The heirs will inherit the deceased's rights.
Copyright continues to be in effect for 70 years after the year of the author’s death. This means, among other things, that the revenues generated by the deceased member’s works and collected by Koda during that period must be distributed to his/her heirs.
Koda's case processing
Koda will not automatically be notified of the member’s death, so it is important that you, as an heir or executor, notifies Koda of the event.
In order to proceed, Koda will require the following information:
- the names of all who inherit – heirs and legatees alike
- the size of the relative shares of the inheritance (for example ‘to be distributed equally with one-third to each’ if there are three beneficiaries)
- telephone number
- CPR number
Once the appropriate documents are available from the probate court (‘skifteretsattest’ and ‘skiftefuldmagter’), copies must be sent to:
- Copydan Tekst og Node
- Koda can provide information on the deceased’s links to music publishers, if any
Once all details regarding the inheritance have been settled, Koda will make its future distributions to the registered heirs’ respective accounts (NemKonti). Koda distributions are taxable and will be reported to the tax authorities (SKAT) as B income.
Koda does not actively participate in the administration and processing of the estate, but is happy to assist by providing information relating directly to Koda, including information about works, work shares, previous earnings, etc. Questions about the estate and its administration should be addressed to the local probate court or the executor of the estate, if any.
As part of the processing of the estate, the value of the deceased’s copyright holdings must be evaluated (capitalised). This evaluation is currently done in accordance with section 9 of the Danish valuation circular, værdiansættelsescirkulæret
Concerning debt enforcement
According to section 62 of the Danish Copyright Act, copyright may not be subject to debt recovery proceedings, and no entitlement may be made in the right to future remuneration – such as Koda distributions. Thus, copyrights cannot be included in the insolvent estate of the author, and the copyrights must be transferred to the heirs outside of the estate.
For example: If the final accounts of the estate of a deceased author proves it to be insolvent, Koda will not pay out copyright royalties to the Danish treasury, but to the deceased's heirs.
Concerning works – joint ownership – artistic executor
Copyright remains valid for 70 years after the year of the author's death. During that period, the heirs are entitled to payment when the works are performed in public. In addition to this, the works can generate money through other usage, for example by being used in movies, advertisements and musical drama. However, such use requires the rightsholders’ permission. Unless single works have been assigned to individual heirs in the author’s will, the works are jointly owned by the heirs. This means that all heirs must agree and consent to the use of a given piece of work in a particular context. Consulting all heirs can be time-consuming and require extensive administration.
Koda manages the rights of authors (lyricists and composers) and music publishers. If the deceased was also a performing artist (musician, singer, soloist) on music recordings, it will also be relevant to contact Gramex, which manages rights for this group.