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Joint works

Extending the time limits for protection of joint works

Joint works are musical works in which a composition and lyrics are combined to form a new musical work. New EU rules now extend the protection period for some joint works. Specifically, the musical works that benefit from the new rules are those works where the music and lyrics were written simultaneously and specifically for each other. The composer and lyricist thus had the same goal in mind: to create a musical work through joint efforts.

How the rules are implemented in Denmark

In 2013, the Danish Parliament implemented new EU legislation which extends the term of protection for the kind of joint works where the music and lyrics were written specifically for each other. Before, these rights would expire separately for the music and lyrics: specifically, copyright on the music would expire 70 years after the composer’s death, while copyright on the lyrics would expire 70 years after the lyricist’s death. However, the new rules have changed the terms of protection for joint works so that it remains in effect until 70 years after the death of the longest-lived creator, whether composer or lyricist.

The legislation, which entered into force on November 1, 2013, means that copyright will be reinstated on work shares in existing, partially unprotected joint works – i.e. works where the music and lyrics were created specifically for each other, but where, for example, the music part is protected while the text part is unprotected. In practice, this might occur when 70 years have passed since the year of death for, for example, the composer, but 70 years have not yet passed since the year of death of the lyricist. In such a case the composer’s rights would be revived. As mentioned, such a revival takes place only if the works were originally written specifically for each other. The rules apply only from the time they were introduced; they will not affect any uses that took place before the law came into force.

Handling the law in practice

At Koda, we would like to urge you to contact us at publisher@koda.dk if you believe you have rights to / represent rights pertaining to joint works where previously unprotected shares should now be re-protected with reference to the extended term of protection.