About the Dutch Copyright Act

The Dutch Copyright Act is based on two basic principles: • protecting the creator of a work, so that they can capitalise on their efforts in some way, • supporting freedom of information and the exchange of information.

The Dutch Copyright Act aims to achieve an optimal balance between the rights of the creator and freedom of information for society, including consumers, companies and education institutions. There are grounds for asking if it is desirable for some information to be monopolised, or whether there should be an opportunity to build further on someone else’s creative products. On the other hand, a creator will usually want to protect their investment to the greatest possible extent. Copyright is under continuous pressure as a result of constant technological developments.

Creator of work ©

The Act does not stipulate any formal requirements for copyright; so there is no requirement to add a copyright notice ©. A work comes into being at the moment it is created. A condition is, however, a certain degree of creativity and the personal stamp of the author. So there is a creator and a work. In principle, both terms are inseparably connected: no work without a creator, no creator without a work.

New developments

This balance has changed as a result of the development of the Internet and other forms of electronic information exchange. The creator, the author as well as the user, the student, the lecturer, researcher and the librarian have all been given a new position and new opportunities. Moreover, these developments are still in full swing. On the one hand this sometimes results in ambiguity but on the other hand it provides new challenges to the author, education institutions and publishers.

1912, 2004 and 2015

The hows and whys of copyright are laid down in the Dutch Copyright Act. The Act dates from 1912. The Act was revised in 2004 in light of the digital information society (based on the European Directive on Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society). New amendments with respect to improving the author’s position in agreements in relation to copyright and neighbouring rights (Dutch Authors’ Contract Rights Act – Wet auteurscontractenrecht) were introduced in 2015.

Digital Single Market

In 2015, the European Commission declared its intention to form a single European Digital Market, with a modern European Copyright that was the least fragmented as possible. A single digital market is more in keeping with the daily reality of practice.

Therefore, the European Copyright Directive will be modernised and it will then be included in Dutch legislation. The key points of the legislation changes are accessibility of works protected by copyright (legal content) for consumers within the territory of the European Union, as well as the more effective use of the internal market.


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