When I declare my work, why do you ask me whether the work is in the public domain (free of copyright)?

If you notify us of your own works which you created alone, please always answer this question with ‘no’.

To be in the public domain means that the author(s) of the original work which is now declared as an arrangement or as a musical setting (e.g. a poem by Goethe) are no longer subject to the term of protection. In Germany, the term of protection usually ends 70 years after the death of the longest surviving author. Example: An instrumental piece has two joint composers A and B. A died in 1948 and B in 1925. The work is in the public domain from 2019.

If A and B have created a vocal piece together with lyricist C and C died in 1956, then the term of protection for this vocal piece relates to music and lyrics. This means: this vocal piece is not free of copyright or in the public domain until 2027. If you want to create a new arrangement of the music, you require a permission to arrange the work.

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