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This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency

The Dutch Copyright Act (Auteurswet) automatically protects the copyright of works of literature, science or art from the moment the work is created, on condition that the work in question is an original work. Copyright is free of charge and the protection applies internationally. The creators are not required to register or file their work. Copyright ceases to apply 70 years after the death of the work’s creator.

Examples of work that may be protected by copyright include texts, works of art, leaflets, videos and other promotional material, photographs, software, jewellery, drawings, scale models and constructions. Examples of work that are not protected include catalogues, manuals, timetables, theatre programs and telephone directories.


Besides copyright there is also copyright contract law, which aims to strengthen the position of the author and performer in exploitation agreements. It will ideally lead to them receiving a fairer share of the profit from their work. It may also mean they will receive a higher remuneration in case the work becomes unexpectedly succesful. Finally, it gives the author(s) a right to reclaim their rights in the case where they are not properly exploited.

Collective management organisation

Most authors of work (including composers, musicians and film makers) exercise their copyrights through a collective management organisation (CMO), such as the:

  • Bureau of Musical Copyright (Buma/Stemra)
  • Dutch Foundation for the Exploitation of Neighbouring Rights (Sena)
  • Reprographic Reproduction Rights Foundation (Stichting Reprorecht)
  • Dutch Private Copying Society (Stichting de Thuiskopie)

These collective management organisations are affiliated to the Association of Organisations for the Collective Management of Intellectual Property Rights (Vereniging van Organisaties die Intellectueel eigendom Collectief Exploiteren, VOI©E). CMOs are subject to an EU directive on copyright and related rightsExternal link.

Independent Management Entity

An Independent Management Entity (IME) functions much in the same way as a CMO as it manages copyright or rights related to copyright on behalf of rightholders. However it is neither owned or controlled, directly, indirectly, wholly or in part, by rightholders, and it is organised on a for-profit basis.


The Dutch Copyright Supervisory BoardExternal link (College van Toezicht Auteursrecht, CvTA) (in Dutch) supervises several of these collective management organisationsExternal link (in Dutch).


If you wish to file a complaint against any of these collective management organisations as a user of work protected under copyright law, you must first contact the relevant organisation. They all have their own dispute settlement system. If your complaint has either not been settled or has not been properly settled, you can contact VOI©E. If the collective management organisation has joined the Dutch Foundation for Consumer Complaints BoardsExternal link, you may want to bring in their Copyright Disputes Committee for businessesExternal link (in Dutch).

Lending rights

In the lending of books, CDs or video films, the copyright owners have a right to compensation. The Public Lending Rights Office (Stichting Leenrecht) therefore collects payments from libraries, toy libraries, CD lenders and art leasing galleries. The Rights Office then distributes these payments to organisations representing copyright owners, such as Lira (a foundation representing writers, translators and journalists) and Pictoright (which represents image makers and press photographers). These organisations handle the further distribution among right holders.

Neighbouring rights

Neighbouring rights (naburige rechten) are applicable to performing artists, producers of phonograms, film producers and broadcasting organisations. The rights originate automatically and have a 50-year term of protection. A 70-year term of protection applies to an executive musician or a producer. Neighbouring rights and copyright are related areas of the law.

Transfer of copyright to a publisher

An author can transfer his copyright in whole or in part to a publisher or issue the right to a publisher under licence. The copyright remains fully vested in the author if a licence is granted. The author 'leases out' his work to a publisher for a definite or indefinite period of time. In the case of a transfer, the author ‘sells’ his work. A transfer has to be laid down in writing. Licences, however, are also valid if they are agreed verbally.

Database law

Databases can be protected by means of database law and copyright law.

Licences for music copyright mediation

Would you like to mediate in music copyright? You will need a licence from the Ministry of Justice and Safety. The licence is to execute musical works in public and on musical radio and television programmes. You do not need a licence if you make the music available on the internet, through downloads or streaming.

Portrait right

If you film or photograph people, you will be the owner of the copyright but not the portrait right. The portrait right allows the portrayed person to prohibit the publication or copying of the photo or film.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency