Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells' LimeGreen IP

The site will give you an overview of Intellectual Property law and related procedures, and how these may differ from country to country.

Copyrights - Copyright protection - The Netherlands


In the Netherlands copyright is governed by the Dutch Copyright Act ("Auteurswet"). According to the Dutch Copyright Act copyright is the exclusive right of the author of a literary, scientific or artistic work or his successors in title to communicate that work to the public and to reproduce it.

Frequently Asked Questions

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-What are the works that can be protected?

The term "work" includes many materials, such as books, brochures, clothing, films, jewels, photographs, musical works, works of visual art and geographical maps.

In Dutch case law it is determined that copyright is only granted to creative, original works. The work must be a creation which has its own, original character and bears the personal imprint of the maker.

-Will the work be protected in other countries?

The territorial scope of the Dutch Copyright is limited to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe. The Dutch Copyright Act does not apply to the islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES-islands), nor Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten.

By way of national legislation it is to be determined whether a non-citizen may benefit from the national copyright protection. The Netherlands is a member of a number of international conventions which ensure the application of the commonly acknowledged and fundamental principles in copyright law also in relation to non-citizens. The most important conventions are:

  • Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971 Paris revision)
  • Universal Copyright Convention (1952)
  • Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (1961)
  • World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - TRIPS (1994)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (1996)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty (1996)

-What are the requirements for copyright protection?

The Dutch Copyright Act does not contain any formal requirements to obtain copyright protection, such as registration or use of a copyright notice. Copyright is obtained automatically by the mere creation of a work.

Copyright shall expire 70 years after 01 January of the year following the year of the death of the author. The copyright in a work of which the author has not been indicated or has not been indicated in such a way that his identity is beyond doubt shall expire 70 years after 01 January of the year following that in which the work was first lawfully communicated to the public.

The same shall apply to works of which a public institution, association, foundation or company is deemed the author, unless the natural person who created the work is indicated as the author on or in copies of the work which have been communicated to the public.

-What are the author's rights under the national law?

The Dutch Copyright Act provides authors with exploitation and moral rights in their works.

Under the Dutch Copyright Act a copyright is the exclusive right to communicate that work to the public and to reproduce it, for example, by screening a movie, by displaying a painting or by providing a work on the internet. But also by hiring out or lending the work. The right to communicate a work to the public has to be broadly interpreted.

Based on the Dutch Copyright Act the author of a work has the following moral rights:

  • the right to oppose the communication to the public of the work without acknowledgement of his name or other indication as author, unless such opposition would be unreasonable
  • the right to oppose the communication to the public of the work under a name other than his own, and any alteration in the name of the work or the indication of the author, in so far as it appears on or in the work or has been communicated to the public in connection with the work
  • the right to oppose any other alteration of the work, unless the nature of the alteration is such that opposition would be unreasonable
  • the right to oppose any distortion, mutilation or other impairment of the work that could be prejudicial to the name or reputation of the author or to his dignity as such.

On the death of the author, the abovementioned rights shall belong, until the expiry of the copyright, to the person designated by the author in his last will and testament or in a codicil thereto. Moral rights cannot be transferred and moral rights can only be partly signed away, on the basis of article 25, paragraph 3 of the Dutch Copyright Act, an author can renounce the moral right to have his or her name mentioned and to object to changes.

The copyright owner has the right to take legal action against persons who infringe its copyrights. The Dutch Civil law and Dutch Copyright law provides inter alia the following remedies:

  • an injunction
  • full damages
  • apart from damages, surrendering of the profits made from the infringement, to be accounted for by the infringing party
  • assignment or destruction of infringing products
  • cost order
  • disposal outside the course of trade or destruction of materials predominantly used for the manufacturing of the infringing products.

-How do you assign copyrights / author rights?

Copyright can be transferred. The transfer of copyright has to be done by a written deed, which has to be signed by the author. This deed has no prescribed form.

If the author of the work has assigned his copyright, he shall continue to be entitled to make such alterations to the work as he may make in good faith in accordance with social custom. As long as copyright subsists, the same right shall belong to the person designated by the author in his last will and testament or in a codicil thereto, if it may reasonably be assumed that the author would have approved such alterations.

-How do you license copyrights?

A copyright can be licensed. Customarily licenses are issued in writing; however, there is no legal requirement under Dutch law to do so.