Copyright is a concept that is now deeply rooted in our society. It is both economically and culturally important. What about the personal bond creators feel for their works? The Auteurswet (Dutch Copyright Act) lets the author decide what happens to his or her creations.
The purpose of copyright is to prevent someone using a work that was created by someone else without permission. Copyright gives writers, photographers, journalists, software developers, music authors and other creators the sole right to decide on the use of their work by third parties.
Article 1 of the Dutch Copyright Act describes copyright as follows: Copyright is the exclusive right of the creator of a work of literature, science or art (or those to whom the right is transferred) to make it available to the public and to replicate it, within the limits defined in the act.
The Dutch Copyright Act provides a form of economic protection for the entire ‘creative industry’. Without legal protection, there would be no point in releasing original work, as this would leave these creations open to copying or plagiarism. The protection embodied in the Dutch Copyright Act allows composers, scientists and ‘creators’ to demonstrate their originality safely as well as to earn money from their work.
Commercial exploitation rights
The right to make works available to the public and replicate them are also referred to as commercial exploitation rights. Many music authors choose to have their commercial exploitation rights transferred. They hand over the commercial exploitation of their music copyright and the handling of the remunerations for use of their works to another person or organisation. For example, music publishers who take over (part of) the exploitation rights through a release contract to promote the author’s work. Over 20,000 composers and lyricists have transferred the commercial exploitation of their music copyright to Buma/Stemra.
Alongside commercial exploitation rights, there are also moral rights. Moral rights protect the personal bond between the creator and his or her work. For example, an author may object to his or her work being made available to the public under another name, to the work being modified, or to anything affecting the work that could damage his or her good name or reputation. The creator of the work retains the moral rights and these cannot be transferred to Buma/Stemra.
Copyright does not last for ever. It expires seventy years after the death of the author. To be precise, seventy years after the next first of January after his or her death. This is why a great deal of classical music is now non-copyright.