Print this Page
Print this Page

The Copyright Act is in the process of being modernised and will be changed to only protect creative writing, instead of all writing.


The Copyright Contract Law was changed in July 2015 to strengthen the position of contract-holders with publishing houses, record companies etc.

Show all Profile-News...

Netherlands/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Intellectual property can be divided into two categories: industrial property, which includes industrial designs and inventions, and copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.

Industrial property

One of the areas protected by Industrial Property Law [Industrieel Eigendomsrecht] is industrial design. The design must have a visual appeal, perform its intended use, and must also be able to be reproduced by industrial means. The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, or BOIP [Benelux-Bureau voor de Intellectuele Eigendom, BBIE] is the official body for the registration of designs in the Benelux countries. In addition, the BOIP offers the possibility to formally record the existence of ideas, concepts, design prototypes etc. Industrial rights accrue to the creator for 20 years.


The Copyright Act 1912 [Auteurswet 1912] protects "literary, scientific or artistic works". Copyright accrues to the creator until 70 years after his or her death. It enables the creator of a work of literature, science or art to earn a reasonable income. By creating a work of literature, science or art, one can immediately claim copyright, but a court decision is required to be absolutely certain about such a right. Examples of works on which copyright protection rests are, for instance: a text, a work of art, user manuals, brochures, videos and other promotion material, photographs, jewellery, drawings, scale models and building structures. Copyright protection is valid throughout the world: copyright does not end at the Dutch borders.

Two international copyright treaties – the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Copyright Convention – mean that Dutch works are automatically protected by copyright in over 164 countries.

The Copyright Act is in the process of being modernised. In the future, the act will only protect creative writing, instead of all writing. With the present Copyright Act, documents like tutorials, phone books and catalogues are also protected. The cabinet also made a legislative proposal to change the Copyright Contract Law[Wet Auteurscontractenrecht]. The Senate passed the act which strengthens the position of writers and performing artists under contract of publishing houses, record companies and other operators. The act is active since July 2015. A new scheme for the film copyright contract law is proposed: screenwriters, directors and starring actors are through their collective management organisation entitled to a proportional charge of the operator. The maker gets a right to equitable remuneration for the granting of operating capacity. In addition, the maker should be able to claim a higher compensation if his work turns out to be an unexpected success, the so-called bestseller provision. Finally, the Act contains a basis for a dispute committee. The process of digitisation is of great influence on copyright issues. In the Netherlands, there is a contact point for copyright relating to the digitisation of state collections [Meldpunt Digitalisering].

Neighbouring rights

The Dutch Neighbouring Rights Act 1993 [Wet op de Naburige Rechten] protects the creative achievements of performing artists, music producers, film producers and broadcasting associations. The name "neighbouring" indicates the relationship that exists between these rights and the copyright. The neighbouring rights are created automatically and are valid for 70 years.

In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Security and Justice is responsible for copyright legislation.

Recovery and distribution of remuneration

In the Netherlands, 17 copyright organisations represent the interests of creators, publishers and producers by ensuring that they receive remuneration for the use of their creations under the Copyright Act and Neighbouring Rights Act. Together, they deal with all the application areas of the laws, varying from photography to audiovisual works, from the entertainment industry to blank sound and image carriers, and from publication to reproduction. The Association of Organisations that Exploit Intellectual Property, or VOICE [Vereniging van Organisaties die Intellectueel Eigendom Collectief Exploiteren], is the umbrella organisation of these 17 organisations. VOICE aims to improve the working methods of the member organisations. In addition, it functions as the contact point for questions and complaints regarding copyright and neighbouring rights.

Chapter published: 13-03-2017

Your Comments on this Chapter?