Copyright law of the Netherlands

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According to the Dutch Copyright Law (called Auteurswet), a Dutch copyright (called auteursrecht) is the exclusive right of the author of a work of literature, science or art, to publish and duplicate such work (article 1).

A copyright comes into existence by making the work. No formalities, such as copyright registration, are necessary to obtain a copyright. The duration of a copyright is 70 years after the death of the author (article 37).

The term "work" includes many materials, such as books, brochures, films, photographs, musical works, works of visual art and geographical maps (article 10). Further, the Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that to be considered a work, it should have its own, original character with the personal imprint of the author (HR 4 January 1991, NJ 1991, 608(Van Dale/Romme)).

The exclusive right to publish a work includes amongst others the publication of a copy of (part of) the work, the public recitation thereof and to rent or lend (part of) the work to public institutions (article 12). The exclusive right to duplicate a work includes amongst others the recording, the translation, the music arrangement and the adaptation for the screen of the work (article 13).

Specific features[edit]

  • Copyright is only granted to creative, original works. The creator of the work must have used some creativity or a certain creative decision must have been made. Creativity is a relative term, however, as this is a legal, not aesthetic, standard.
  • Copyright is granted automatically, without any (registration) formality, in the Netherlands, as it is in any other country that is party to the Berne Convention. This means that it is not necessary to include copyright indicators such as "copyright 2006". In fact, the word "copyright" has no legal meaning in the Netherlands.
  • A copyright lasts for a finite amount of time��—specifically, 70 years after the death of the author. When a copyright expires, the work become part of the public domain. An author also can prematurely renounce a copyright.
  • Neither the expertise of the author, nor the quality of the creation itself is a relevant factor in determining whether a creation is a work or not. An underexposed, badly composed picture of the Eiffel Tower can be just as copyright-protected as a two-meter-tall print of a perfect photograph of the same tower by a professional photographer, provided that the legal requirements of a work are met.
  • Dutch laws, rulings and regulations are not copyright-protected. This means that they can be used at all times by anyone for any purpose (article 11). However, some publishers of legal texts and court rulings may claim auteursrecht with regard to the form or order in which they are presented.
  • The Auteurswet allows for citaatrecht (quotation right) (article 15a). This allows the use of (parts of) a work under a limitative set of conditions. Quotation rights appear to be more limited and demarcated than the concept of fair use.
  • A portretrecht (portrait right) regards rights of the person portrayed in a portrait that is not made on behalf of that person, in contrast to an auteursrecht which grants rights to the creator of a work. An example is the publication of someone's picture in a magazine. The person portrayed can oppose such publication to the extent he or she has a reasonable interest in doing so (article 21).
  • A copyright can be transferred or licensed. A license is a permission of the author to use the work as agreed upon by the author and the licensee. In order to be valid, a transfer of the auteursrecht should be in writing.[1]
  • An author can transfer a copyright to someone else using securitisatie, at which point the author receives the current value of future copyright revenues at the time of public presentation.
  • Copyright, like the French idea of "droits d'auteur", also includes moral rights. This includes the right of the author to oppose the publication of the work without stating him as the author and any modifications or malformations to the work. The author can only partly waive his moral rights,[2] meaning that the author retains certain rights, even if the copyright is transferred or renounced.
  • Copyright infringement is governed not only by civil law, but also by criminal law.[3]
  • Marks and inventions are primarily governed by trademark rights and patents, respectively.

The right to homecopy[edit]

In certain circumstances, one is allowed to make a copy of copyright materials.

  • According to Dutch Auteurswet article 16b and 16c § 1,[4] and Wet op de Naburige rechten article 10, 'reproducing a piece of literature, science or art' is not seen as infringement to copyright if in line with the following:
  1. The home copy is not, direct or indirect, means for monetary gain;
  2. The copy serves exclusively to own practice, study or use;
  3. The number of copies are limited, or the creator of additional copies compensates the holder.

The Belgium law has similar regulation in their Auteurswet (art. 22 § 1, 5°).

On 10 April 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled the Dutch exclusion for home-copying to be infringing the directive 2001/29/EG - article 5 § 2- b and § 5. According to EU directive, this makes homecopying unlawful. There have been other cases in which Dutch Auteurswet has been ruled unlawful. The Netherlands however has not changed said article nor complied to the request to make prosecuting those whom homecopy possible.


Historically, governments issued monopolierechten (monopoly-rights) to publishers for the sale of printed work. Great Britain was the first to change this in 1710 with the Statute of Anne, which stated that authors, not publishers, had the right to claim a monopoly on the work. It also entailed protection for buyers of printed work in that publishers were no longer allowed to control the use of sold works. Furthermore, it limited exclusive rights to 28 years, after which the work or works would be released to the public domain.

The Berne Convention in 1886 was the first multilateral treaty to provide for reciprocal treatment of copyrights among sovereign nations. Under the Berne Convention the right of ownership (eigendomsrecht in Dutch) was automatically granted to every creative work. The author no longer needed to register the work, and was not required to apply for copyright coverage.

The Berne Convention is still in effect today. When a work is finished (defined as being written or recorded on a physical medium), the author automatically receives all exclusive rights for that work as well as derivatives, unless and until the author explicitly renounces those rights or the copyright expires. The expiration time differs from country to country, but according to the Berne Convention the minimum duration is the lifetime of the author plus 50 years.

International laws and treaties[edit]

Copyright laws differ between countries. However, there are several international treaties concerning copyright, including:

There are also many other treaties that settle specific parts of copyright. Examples are the European Directive on Copyright Protection of Software (Europese Richtlijn op de Auteursrechtelijke Bescherming van Software) and the European Directive on Neighboring Rights (Europese Richtlijn op de Naburige Rechten).


External links[edit]