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Af Patrick Maury, Nordiska Theatrical Publishers

Creative and performing artists hold the copyright of their works, which is naturally also the case for theatre productions, and following the end of the original staging’s contractual agreements (usually 36 months after the first performance), playwrights, directors, set designers, light designers etc. can claim royalties for their work if the show is restaged. How these rights are managed is far from always clear though.

Furthermore, in theatrical productions the holder of the unambiguous artistic rights to any given performance is often unclear, as new modes of production regularly cross over the professional boundaries, including more of the participants in the artistic process itself, also known as a devising project, where the performance is based on texts created in unison by the actors rather than a finished manuscript.

When producing, you must be particularly aware that a restaging (36 months after the original performance) and transference of the material to another media (film or TV (though shorter excerpts are exempt from this)) involves obtaining the right to do so from all copyright holders. And furthermore, for each translation, you must obtain the rights in every language, including screen texting for a specific production.

The financial conditions pertaining to the use of protected works of art is determined by the possible earnings of the (co-)production, which is why you have to disclose all relevant production information, including planned performances (period and number), the different venues, size of audiences, ticket prices etc.

Copyright is a complex area and it’s particularly important that recipients understand that there are several layers of rights concerning both the creative as well as the performing artists.

Nordiska Theatrical Publishers have, in collaboration with Dansk Teaterforlag, published the rapport, ‘The Right of Copy for Performances’ (Scenekunstens rettigheder), which can be downloaded from this page. The rapport includes a thorough account of the importance and the administration of copyrights in Scandinavia.

Read more about copyright and theatre on Nordiska's website.

Administrators of Copyrights in Denmark

CopyDan - administers 6 copyright organisations within arts, writing and entertainment. (The regulations stipulated by CopyDan’s form the basis for the administration of copyrights in the following unions: Danske Dramatikere, Foreningen af Danske Sceneinstruktørers og Scenografernes)

KODA - administers Danish and international copyrights for music creators and publishers

Gramex - administers the financial rights of performing artists and record companies

Lysfonden (only in Danish) - administers copyrights for lighting designers

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