Copyright Contract in the Netherlands

Copyright Contract in the Netherlands in Europe

In light of the difficulty of many authors to derive a decent income from the exploitation of
their works, policy makers in the field of copyright may decide to intervene and recalibrate
the power relations between authors and publishers. Seeking to strengthen the bargaining
power of authors, the Dutch legislator, for instance, adopted a specific Copyright Contract Act
in July 2015. The Law of 30 June 2015 changing the Dutch Copyright Act and the Neighbouring Rights Act in connection with the strengthening of the position of authors and performing artists in contracts concerning copyright and neighbouring rights (Copyright Contract Act), Staatsblad 2015, 257, which led to a new section in the Dutch Copyright Act (Arts. 25b-25h) dealing specifically with authors’ contract rights. As to the preparatory work for this new legislation, see Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie (2012); Lenselink (2013), 7; Wybenga
(2011), 41; Peeperkorn (2010), 167; Poort/Theeuwes (2010), 137; Senftleben (2010), 146; Cohen Jehoram (2008), 303; Lenselink (2005), 453-463; Hugenholtz/Guibault (2004).

Under this new legislation, the author can assert a right to fair remuneration in the context of negotiations about the exploitation of his work. This right is not only available at the beginning of the contractual relationship with a publisher (Article 25c(1) of the Dutch Copyright Act). The author can also insist on the payment of additional remuneration in bestseller cases where the initially agreed remuneration appears disproportionately low when considering the revenue flowing from the subsequent successful commercialization of the work (Article 25d(1) of the Dutch Copyright Act).

To create clarity about the applicable standard of fair remuneration, the Dutch Minister of
Education, Culture and Science is entitled to determine the amount of remuneration that can
be deemed fair in a given branch of the creative industry, such as the publishing industry.
However, this determination is only possible on the basis of a joint request of a representative
and independent association of authors on the one hand, and an individual publisher or an
association of publishers on the other hand (Article 25c(2) to (4) of the Dutch Copyright Act).
Apart from a right to fair remuneration, the Dutch Copyright Contract Act also provides for
rules for the termination of exploitation contracts in case of insufficient exploitation of a
work (Article 25e(1) of the Dutch Copyright Act), the invalidation of contracts about the exploitation of future works for an unreasonably long or insufficiently determined period (Article 25f(1) of the Dutch Copyright Act) and, more generally, the invalidation of contractual stipulations that are unreasonably burdensome for the author (Article 25f(2) of the Dutch Copyright Act).

Legislation of this kind is not a specific Dutch phenomenon. In 2002, similar legislation
already entered into force in Germany (see Dietz (2005), 20; Schricker (2002), 797; Schack (2002), 853, and 19 § 32(1) of the German Copyright Act).

By Martin Senftleben, Maximilian Kerk, Miriam Buiten and Klaus Heine


Further Reading

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