Duration of copyright

Copyright (exploitation and moral rights) starts at the creation of the work and (throughout all of the EU) extends until 70 years after the death of the creator (Sections 37 to 42 inclusive of the Dutch Copyright Act). It is then exercised by their heirs in their stead.

Exploitation rights are automatically transferred to the heirs. They can then grant a licence or exclusively assign them to someone else.

This is different for moral rights: these are only transferred to the heirs if the creator has explicitly arranged it in a will or other written document. If they have not done this, then the heirs can no longer exercise these rights.

In addition to this – under certain circumstances – copyright can be exhausted. This was determined by the European Court of Justice recently. This means that, for instance, an author or software creator no longer has the right to fair compensation and cannot oppose the transfer of second-hand MP3s or second-hand software.

If the creator created their work within the scope of employment and the employer therefore holds the copyright on it, then the copyright has a shorter duration. In that case, it ends 70 years after the first publication of the work.


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