You always have to deal with copy right in the arts. If you have made (created) something as a self-employed person that somebody else wants to publish or adapt, it can earn you money. If as a self-employed person you want to publish or adapt something that another person has made, you might have to pay to use it. If you are employed, this is a concern for your employer.

What is copyright?

So copyright has a high business component. At the same time it is about what makes art what it is, because a work can only be copyright if it has an original character, a personal stamp and a form.

The right of personality (the moral right) protects the integrity of the work: that is the non-material side of copyright. The right of exploitation is the material side of copyright. This is the exclusive right of the maker to publish and to reproduce (to copy, adapt, or cast in a different form, such as making the film of a book). Other parties require permission of the maker.

Registration of work

Copyright on a work occurs already by creating a work, but to be able to proof it, it is useful to register your work. If there is a conflict in which one party accuses the other of plagiarism, the date of registration prevails. You can register a work or idea with the notary or online. Another possibility is to send the idea by registered mail (when receiving the envelope leave it closed) or send registered e-mails to yourself.

Transfer of copyrights or licenses

You can transfer your copyrights or agree on a license for others to use.

Creative Commons licenses provide simple, standardized alternatives to the “all rights reserved” paradigm of traditional copyright.

There are a number of collective management organisations for copyrights. If you are considering joining such an organisation, weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and check the legal aspects. Do you want to transfer the exploitation, do you want to give out licenses or is the organisation only working as an intermediary? If you transfer your rights, you cannot get them back.

Vevam is the Dutch collective management organization (CMO) for film and television directors. Vevam collects and distributes remunerations for the use of audiovisual works.

SEKAM collects and distributes renumerations for broadcastings abroad. Producers can register at Sekam.

Lira is a Dutch collective management organization (CMO) for (screen)writers, translators and freelance journalists. Lira collects and distributes remunerations for the exploitation and (re)use of literary and audio-visual works of writers.

NORMA represents the interests of performers such as musicians, actors, dancers. NORMA grants remuneration for the use of their performances in the Netherlands and abroad.

PAM is a collaboration between Lira, VEVAM and NORMA.

In the Netherlands there is a legal exception to copyright law especially for films. Any maker (creator, in the sense of copyright) is supposed to transfer his copyright to the producer of a film. You can agree otherwise in a (preferably written) contract, but this is very rare. The idea behind this exception is that a single maker cannot stop the exploitation of the whole film.

The producer is allowed to reproduce and publish the film. The makers of the scenario, music and other from the film separable copyrighted contributions like the decor do have copyright on their particular contributions. Again, there may be exceptions if written down in a contract.

The producer is supposed to provide fees to all makers of the film and to state this in a contract. According to law you can only be producer if you provide capital, bear financial risk and bring the makers together.