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.

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).


The Dutch Copyright Supervisory Board (College van Toezicht Auteursrecht, CvTA) (Dutch) supervises several of these collective management organisations (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 Boards, you may want to bring in their Copyright Disputes Committee for businesses (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 Safety and Justice. 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.


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