Copyright and use of material from the Royal Danish Library

Short introduction to copyright and use of material from the Royal Danish Library

The Royal Danish Library has immense collections of nearly all types of works, e.g. newspapers, books, photographs, music, journals, television programmes and architectural models. Our mission is to make knowledge available for education and research as well as learning and experiences. We are committed to making as much material as possible available to users of the library within the boundaries of Danish legislation, including the Danish Act on Copyright.


The author or originator of a work holds the copyright so that he/she may receive remuneration from it

As a general rule, the Royal Danish Library does not hold the copyright to the works included in its collections. Copyright is an exclusive right which belongs to the creator of a work - e.g. an author, photographer or illustrator - to ensure that he or she can earn money from that work. Some works are created in collaboration between several authors or originators, giving them joint ownership of the copyright.


Copyright commences with the creation of the work and expires 70 years after the author or originator’s death

In general, works in Denmark are protected under the Danish Act on Copyright from the moment the work is created and for 70 years after the year of the author or originator’s death. As long as the author or originator of the work is alive, they can give permission (consent) for the specific use of a work and demand remuneration for the use of that work.  Following their death and until the copyright expires, it is their heirs who can give permission (consent) and demand remuneration.


Exceptions to copyright (e.g. the right to reproduction for private use)

As a general rule, the Royal Danish Library cannot give permission (consent) for the use of a copyrighted work. However, in some cases the Danish Act on Copyright expressly provides a special exception to the right holder’s exclusive rights to a work, thereby granting general permission for the material to be used for a certain purpose.  For example, one such exception allows private individuals to copy published works, such as books and journals. That is why you are allowed to use the library’s copy machines to copy books for your own use without having to ask the right holder for permission each time. 


A author or originator is able to hand over their copyright to others, such as the Royal Danish Library

An author or originator or their heirs may also hand over their copyright to others, such as a publisher or record company. In some cases, right holders have sold or donated their copyright to the Danish Royal Library, and in these cases the library can and will grant permission for the use of the material without remuneration.


Where can I get practical guidance and answers to my questions about copyright?  

Copyright issues can be very complicated, and the Royal Danish Library is not able to offer legal advice to the library’s users about copyright or other laws.

However, the staff at the Royal Danish Library can help you with practical guidance and answer a number of common, straightforward questions about the use of the library’s material, e.g. lawful copying for private use.

Where can I get more information about copyright?

If you would like to read more about copyright, you can find legal literature on copyright in Denmark and other countries in the library’s database, REX.  The rules concerning copyright have been harmonised within the EU but can vary considerably outside the EU.  
We can also recommend the following websites: