Faq copyright visual arts/design

How can you protect and earn from your copyright? Copyright means that a work may only be copied or made public with the permission of the intellectual creator of the work. You can have copyrights on works which: have an original character or are perceptible with the senses. This means that an idea can only be protected by copyright if it is set down on paper; it does not, however, have to have reached its final or definitive form.

Getting copyrights

You get a copyright automatically, without having to fill out any forms. But it is sensible to indicate that a copyright applies, for example by using a copyright symbol accompanied by a name and date. 

Remember that the employer, not the designer, holds the copyrights of works designed within an employment situation!

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Copyright

Earning from copyrights

Making works public through means of exhibition, on internet, in a book, on tv, etc., is only allowed if the copyright holder gives his/her permission. The copyright holder may attach conditions to this, such as a fee, mentioning of their name, and so on. You can claim damages if your copyrighted work is made public without permission.

When a work is copied or multiplied, for example by reproduction in a series, the copyright holder can give the reproduction in licence (for a fixed fee) and/or require royalties (a certain amount for each copy sold).

Agreements on paper

Verbal agreements cannot be verified. Avoid trouble: put all agreements about royalties, licences, permission for publication, etc., down on paper. If the other party (producer, gallery, etc.) comes up with a contract, take the time to read it through carefully and if necessary to get expert advice about it.

Copyright bureaus

Stichting Beeldrecht is a copyright bureau for visual artists, photographers and illustrators. Stichting Burafo is a copyright bureau for photographers. These bureaus keep track of publications and have contact with organizations which have to do with copyrights regularly. If you are affiliated with a copyright bureau they can take care of a number of copyright matters for you, such as royalties and permission for publication.

More information

- licence contract (pdf)

- website Cedar

- website over auteursrecht