You always have to deal with copyright in the arts. If you have made (created) something as a self-employed that somebody else wants to publish or adapt, it can earn you money. If 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 with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. 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

Transferring your copyright is the most far-reaching option: another person or organisation receives or buys the rights that you owned yourself first. You can also arrange the right of another person or organisation to use your work by granting a license (permission) to that other person or organisation. In that case, you will specify in an agreement for which purpose, under which terms and conditions, and for which period your work may be used by another person or organisation. You will remain the copyright holder yourself, merely conferring your rights temporarily. If it is a success, you can renegotiate the terms and conditions after the agreed period has passed.

Creative Commons licenses enable creators to release their copyright-protected work for specific forms of reuse, without relinquishing copyright.

Institutions that are planning to make heritage collections accessible by putting them online have to comply with copyright laws. DEN is the Dutch knowledge centre for digital heritage and culture that also offers information on copyright issues.