The Dutch Copyright Act (Auteurswet) grants protection to literary, artistic or scientific works. The Copyright Act does not protect an idea as such, however original it may be. The Copyright Act protects only the original expression, or the original application of an idea. The test for originality as applied in case law is whether the work “reflects an original expression and the personal imprint of the author”.

Obtaining copyrights

In compliance with the Berne Convention, the Copyright Act does not contain any formal requirements to obtain copyright protection, like registration or use of a copyright notice.

Copyright is obtained by the mere creation of a work.

Duration of copyrights in the Netherlands

The term of copyright protection runs during the life of the author and for 70 years after his death.


Property rights – A copyright confers upon its owner the exclusive right to make the work available to the public and to reproduce it. The exclusive right to reproduce not only includes slavish copying, but adjustments and translations of the work as well.

Moral rights – Apart from the exclusive right to reproduce and to make the work available to the public, the Copyright Act grants more rights to the author of the work.

The moral rights allow the author to appose a distortion of its work, if it would injure its reputation or other. Other elements of moral rights include the right to be identified as the creator of a work or to recapture or suppress the work.


A copyright owner may avail of the remedies an intellectual property owner has in general. In addition the Copyright Act explicitly provides for the following remedies:

  • 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
  • disposal outside the course of trade or destruction of materials predominantly used for the manufacturing of the infringing products.

Assignment of copyrights

Assignment of copyrights has to be done by a written deed. The written deed of assignment has to be interpreted narrowly; only the copyrights explicitly mentioned in the deed fall within the assignment. Moral rights in principle survive assignment.

Licensing of copyrights

Copyrights may be licensed as well. Although licenses are customarily issued in writing, there is no formal requirement to do so.

Legal services of Blenheim

The attorneys of the Dutch law firm Blenheim can assist and advise you in all kinds of issues regarding copyrights when Dutch law applies.

Our lawyers can -for instance- assist you in assessing or drafting a deed of assignment or license of copyrights based on Netherlands law, assist you in matters regarding infringement of copyrights, et cetera.

Thomas Kriense

Do you want to know more about copyright?

Please leave your mail or phonenumber so one of our experts can contact you.