Your own version of a public-domain work

The work of any author is protected for 70 years after the end of the year of his/her death; after this point the works are in the public domain. For some works this means that only parts of the work is in the public domain, while other authors or their heirs/estate still hold copyright of other aspects of the work. We can help you ascertain whether a given author is in the public domain and whether a given work is fully or only partially in the public domain. Contact Koda’s Publishers and Members Service by calling (+45) 33 30 63 20 or via e-mail:

New lyrics to music in the public domain or new music to lyrics in the public domain

You are free to put your own lyrics to public-domain music, or to set your own music to public-domain lyrics. The NCB will give you a full 100% share, while Koda offers an 80% share.

Arranging music in the public domain

If the oeuvre of the composer of a given work is in the public domain you are free to arrange the music as you wish. The potential arranger’s share available from Koda in such cases depends on the extent to which the arranger has made an independent creative contribution in relation to the original musical work. Koda’s music advisor will assess the arranger’s effort. When submitting registrations of such works, always include sheet music or a recording of the arrangement to facilitate the music advisor’s assessment. Send it to If no such material is submitted the arranger will not be allocated a share from Koda. Arrangers of works that are fully in the public domain will generally receive a 100% share from NCB. 

If the work comprises public-domain music and protected lyrics the arranger’s Koda share of the music becomes a matter for Koda’s assessment, but the lyricist must grant a licence to the arranger in order for the arranger to qualify for a share.

Music-on-music works

A work is a “music-on-music” work if your contribution to the original work is so distinctive that it goes beyond what would usually be considered an arrangement. Depending on Koda’s Music Advisor’s verdict, the share allocated by Koda may be up to 75%.

Translating lyrics in the public domain

If the oeuvre of the lyricist behind a given lyric is in the public domain you are free to translate or adapt the lyrics as you wish. If the oeuvres of both the composer and lyricist behind the given work are in the public domain the translator will receive a 16.67% share from Koda; from the NCB he/she will receive the full 100% share. If the text is in the public domain and the music is still protected, you must apply to the composer for a licence in order to qualify for a full translator’s share.