Forum Advokater

Copyright law

Under the Danish Act on Copyright literary and artistic works as well as computer programs are protected. Works may only be protected in relation to copyright if the work is made due to the personal, creative effort of the author – the result has to have what is legally referred to as level of originality.

Copyright law protects a wide range of arts. In addition to commonly know arts such as paintings and non-fiction and fiction, also music works, clothing, jewellery, applied art, furniture, architecture, computer programs, etc. fall within the scope of the act.

If the requirements to level of originality have been met, copyright protection incurs - contrary to most other immaterial rights – already at creation of the work; consequently, it does not require registration or other approval.

The copyright implies that the author has an exclusive right to control the work by reproducing it and by making it available to the public whether in the original or in an amended form, in translation, adaptation into other literary or artistic form or into another technique.

Initially, the author of the work holds the copyright, and certain parts of the copyright (the so-called droit moral) are basically non-assignable. This applies for instance to the author’s right of being identified by name on copies of the work and the requirement that the work must not be altered or made available to the public in a manner or a context which is prejudicial to the author’s literary or artistic reputation or individuality.

As copyright is personal, businesses and other undertakings may only acquire copyright if the copyright is assigned to the business. Except from computer programs – where the act directly states that the copyright belongs to the employer – the Danish Act on Copyright does not regulate copyright to works made as part of an employment. However, according to case law assignment of copyright is often implied, so the employer attains an exclusive right to use the work to the extent that such transfer is necessary with regard to the employer’s usual business.

When a work is copyright protected, the protection only applies to the work in its actual presentation – not the underlying idea. Thus, in relation to computer programs typically the source code is protected. Accordingly, basically direct copies of the work will be considered an infringement of the copyright.

The copyright in a work shall last for 70 years after the year of the auhtor’s death. In certain cases, however, the copyright duration is shorter; this is for instance the case as to performing artists.

Possible sanctions against copyright infringement are prohibition, compensation, indemnification and destruction. Furthermore, the act contains provisions on criminal liability for infringement of certain provisions of the act.

the Danish Act on Copyright
level of originality
literary works
artistic works
computer programs
fine art
applied art
originality requirements
moral rights
photographic works
several authors
copy protection