Introduction of new Dutch copyright contract law

It has been in the making for years: the new Dutch copyright contract law that was introduced on 1 July 2015. The goal is to offer legal protection for creators (note: not just authors but also performing artists) against the ‘’killer contracts’ and the imbalance in the bargaining position between creators and operators. Attorney Hidde Reitsma lists the most important six changes of this new law. 

Fair compensation (1)

In the amended law, creators are now entitled to fair compensation for granting operating rights. With this legal right, compensations of nil euro or an unreasonably low fee should become the exception. Collective bargaining is still considered cartel formation and remains prohibited. However, at the joint request of an association of creators on the one hand and an operator/operators on the other hand, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science can establish the amount of fair compensation.

Bestseller stipulation (2)

The creator is entitled to additional compensation if the agreed compensation is seriously disproportionate to the proceeds. This means that the creator is now entitled to claim, also afterwards, additional compensation in cases of unexpected success (a ‘bestseller’). If necessary the creator can request the court to amend the contract retroactively.

Non-use rule (3)

The new legislation now specifically includes the possibility for creators to fully or partially terminate the contract with their operator within a reasonable term after conclusion of the contract or after initially operational activities were conducted (‘non-use’). The creator does have to provide the operator a reasonable term for compliance, unless compliance is permanently impossible. At the request of the creator, the operator also has to give the creator the right to inspect the extent of the operational activities.

Annulling unreasonable agreements (4)

The creator can also annul unclear or unreasonably extended claims for use of future creations (for example consecutive albums or books) and other unreasonably onerous stipulations. The explanation to the law gives as an example of ‘unreasonably onerous’: a stipulation that enables the operator to deduct unlimited advertising and other costs from the gross royalty payments, so that is in the end (virtually) nothing left for the creator.

Future forms of operation (5)

For future forms of operation not yet known when the contract was concluded, the law states that the operator owes the creator additional fair compensation.

Disputes resolution committee (6)

There is now a legal basis to install a dispute resolution committee for disputes between creators and operators as a (low-threshold) alternative for going to court. This committee can rule on the open standards in the legislation (reasonable compensation, reasonable term and unreasonably onerous).

Scope of the new copyright contract law

The rules apply to new contracts and are only applicable to natural persons. The stipulations for terminating and annulling contracts, however, also apply to existing contracts. The rules also apply to contracts where a choice is made for foreign law, if the operational activities fully or mainly take place in The Netherlands.

Dutch intellectual property lawyer in Amsterdam

If you have any questions about the new copyright contract law or other issues relating to copyright, you can contact AMS Lawyers at any time without obligation.