Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Netherlands

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of the Netherlands relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in the Netherlands must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both the Netherlands and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from the Netherlands, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.

Governing laws

The Netherlands has been a member of the Berne Convention since 1 November 1912, the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995 and the WIPO Copyright Treaty since 14 March 2010.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed Act of September 23, 1912, containing New Regulation for Copyright (Copyright Act 1912, as amended up to September 1, 2017) as the main copyright law enacted by the legislature of the Netherlands.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database.[2] Wikisource holds a version of the 1912 law as valid on 1 January 2005.

Official Dutch sources also provide the text of the Copyright Act and Related Rights Act in Dutch and English.[3][4][5]

Standard terms

Under the Act of September 23, 1912 as amended up to September 1, 2017),

  • Works of individual authors enjoy copyright protection until 70 years after the 1st January following the author's death.[1912-2017 Art. 37(1)]
  • Posthumously published works before 1995 have a copyright until 50 years after publication (pre-1995 law's term), or 70 years after the death of the author (post-1995 law's term), whatever duration is the longest.[1912-2017 Art. 37, 51] This clause was used to restore the copyright on until 1984 unpublished portions of Anne Frank's diary.[6]
  • The duration of the copyright belonging jointly to two or more persons in their capacity as co-authors of a work shall be calculated from 1 January of the year following the year of the death of the last surviving co-author.[1912-2017 Art. 37(2)]
  • The copyright in a work of which the author has not been indicated or has not been indicated in such a way that his identity is beyond doubt expires 70 years after 1 January of the year following that in which the work was first lawfully communicated to the public.[1912-2017 Art. 38(1)]
  • This also applies to the works of a public institution, association, foundation or corporation that is regarded as the creator, unless the natural person who created the work is indicated as such on or in copies of the work which are made public.[1912-2017 Art. 38(2)]
  • For works whose term of copyright is not calculated according to the provisions of Article 37, copyright expires within 70 years after creation if not lawfully disclosed in this period.[1912-2017 Art. 39]
  • Copyright in a cinematographic work expires 70 years from 1 January of the year following the year of death of the last of the following persons: the principal director, the screenplay, the author of the dialogue and the author of music made for the film.[1912-2017 Art. 40]
  • If in a musical composition with words the copyrights on the music and on the words are held by different individuals, copyright expires 70 years from 1 January of the year of death of the last survivor.[1912-2017 Art. 40a]

Outside Europe

Before World War II the Netherlands colonies in the Caribbean were administered as the Netherlands Antilles, which included Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Saba. Copyright laws were defined by the auteursverordening 1913. In 1948 the Netherlands Antilles was given considerable autonomy, and on 15 December 1954 it became an equal partner to the Netherlands in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On 1 January 1986 Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In 2010 the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved. Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba became special municipalities of the Netherlands, while Curaçao and Sint Maarten became countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. According to Article 39 of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, "civil and commercial law, the law of civil procedure, criminal law, the law of criminal procedure, copyright, industrial property, the office of notary, and provisions concerning weights and measures shall be regulated as far as possible in a similar manner in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten".

  • The relevant law in Aruba is the 2003 Auteursverordening (Aruba).
  • For Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, the operative law is the Auteurswet BES, with a copyright duration of 50 years after the death of the author.[7] This law is based on the corresponding law of the Netherlands Antilles.
  • In Curaçao the law is similar.
  • The law in Sint Maarten is Auteursverordening.[8]

Not protected


See also: Commons:Unprotected works

Dutch laws and legal judgments are completely free of copyright (Article 11 of Dutch copyright law of 1912).

In principle all works communicated to the public by or on behalf of the public authorities (government) may be freely distributed (this includes modifications and derivatives) in the Netherlands unless the copyright has been reserved explicitly, either in a general manner by law, decree or ordinance, or in a specific case by a notice on the work itself or at the communication to the public. This is regulated in (Article 15b of Dutch copyright law of 1912). Entities like the Silicose Oud-mijnwerkers foundation can also be regarded as public authorities (AbRS 30 November 1995, JB 1995/337). This might imply that their publications are not automatically copyright protected. This arrest does not contain references to the copyright of such organizations and is in addition in general critized by prof. mr. SE Zijlstra in a note to the arrest.

Copyright tags

See also: Commons:Copyright tags

  • {{PD-NL-gemeentewapen}} – for coats of arms of (no longer existing) municipalities, provinces and the country itself
  • {{PD-NL-gemeentevlag}} – for flags of (no longer existing) municipalities, provinces and the country itself
  • {{PD-NL-Gov}} (deprecated) – for all works communicated to the public by or on behalf of the public authorities (government), unless the copyright has been reserved explicitly, either in a general manner by law, decree or ordinance, or in a specific case by a notice on the work itself or at the communication to the public


See also: Commons:Currency

OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK: Guilder banknotes are subject to copyright 70 years after the first publication. De Nederlandsche Bank has been contacted and they state that the introduction of the Euro does not change this.

Pictogram-voting question.svg Question Guilder coins may be OK to reproduce, since they are subject to Article 15b of the Auteurswet. Works published by or on behalf of the government can be reproduced, unless copyright has been reserved explicitly by the government at the time of publication. However, even if no reservation was made, only the author has the right to have those works published in a collection.[9]

OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK National sides of the Euro coins are subject to copyright as well. Although they are subject to Article 15b, an express reservation of rights has been made by the Dutch government.

De minimis

See also: Commons:De minimis

The law of the Netherlands includes an article devoted to a situation where the copyright is not or barely relevant. This is called de minimus or bagatel. Based on this article, it is allowed to include work of other persons in an own work, but only if it is incidental or of minor significance. "Incidental" means that the presence of the copyrighted work is more or less by chance. Of minor significance means the copyrighted work is a small part of the work.

Translated text from Art.18 of the Auteurswet of the Netherlands:

The incidental processing of a copyrighted work as a part of minor significance in another work is not considered an infringement of the copyright of the first mentioned work.

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OOjs UI icon check-constructive.svg OK for buildings and most 2D and 3D artwork {{FoP-Nederland}}
OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK for photographs, maps, applied art, industrial design, and models

Article 18 of the Dutch copyright act states that:[10]

  • it is not an infringement of copyright to reproduce and publish pictures of a work, as meant in article 10, first paragraph, under 6°[1] or of an architectural work as meant in article 10, first paragraph, under 8°[2], which are made to be permanently located in public places, as long as the work is depicted as it is located in the public space. Where incorporation of a work in a compilation is concerned, not more than a few of the works of the same author may be included
  • [1] drawings, paintings, works of architecture and sculpture, lithographs, engravings and the like
  • [2] drafts, sketches and three-dimensional works relating to architecture, geography, topography or other sciences.

Article 18 limits this explicitly to "works relating to architecture", i.e., geography, topography, and other sciences are not included in article 18. Photographs are not included in Item 6. They are separately listed in Item 9 and therefore are not included in FOP. Also separately listed and therefore not included are maps, applied art and industrial design, and models.

Public place in article 18 of the Dutch copyright law not only includes open-air spaces such as public roads and squares, but also the interior of public buildings. What exactly is a public building is not defined in the Dutch law, but there are some guidelines that can be taken from the published literature and from the parliamentary debates about this article when it was introduced in this version in 2004. Among the criteria to decide whether the interior of a building is a "public place" in the sense of article 18, parliament said that the building must be freely accessible by the general public and then mentioned two negative criteria: whether an entrance fee was charged, and whether access may be denied on private law grounds. (Other criteria may exist; these two were just mentioned as examples.)[11]

Parliament and the literature explicitly mention that schools, opera buildings, entrance halls of businesses, and museums are not public places for the purpose of article 18, but that railway stations are.[12][13] Case law in the Netherlands on "freedom of panorama" issues is scarce. In one case, the interior of the Johan Cruijff ArenA was deemed to not be a public place.[14] In a second case, a photo of a building in a private holiday resort was considered covered by article 18 because the building was visible from public ground.[15]

Taking these guidelines and the few court cases into consideration, we interpret "public place" (openbare plaats) in article 18 to cover works on open-air roads and squares as well as works visible from there, as long as they are outside.[16][17] It also includes works in the interiors of only those buildings that primarily serve a transit purpose for the general public: railway stations are explicitly mentioned by the lawmakers, but arguably this would also apply to airports, underpasses, (covered) parking lots. Article 18 also seems to apply in shopping malls.[18] It probably does not apply within the shops in such a mall. In all likelihood it does not apply to other indoors non-private places, such as hotels, cafés, or shops. It certainly does not apply in the locations specifically excluded by the lawmakers: schools, operas, entrance halls of businesses, and museums.[13]

Article 18 is limited to works that were originally made for being placed permanently in public places. The literature mentions that this would also apply to graffiti, even if these normally are removed rather quickly.[13] This is consistent with the interpretation of "permanent" e.g. in Germany as explained here; the "natural lifetime" of a graffito is considered to end with its removal. Furthermore, the picture must show the work as it appears in the public place. A photograph showing a sculpture in its surroundings is OK. Cutting out the sculpture and using only the image of the sculpture is not covered by article 18.[18] Dutch legislature seems to favor a strict interpretation of the Berne three-step test. Parliament mentioned that creating and selling a postcard from a close-up photo of a copyrighted sculpture (i.e., without the surroundings, not showing the sculpture in context) was not allowed.[12]

Lacking evidence of original authorship/ creative input of any kind

Images without evidence of original authorship can be used with a public domain license.

The most common example are photo's intended for use in a passport or ID-card. These have been made in a prescribed manner by a photographer or even in automatic photo machine. From 1 October 2006 the Regeling eisen pasfoto’s and the Paspoortuitvoeringsregeling Nederland 2001 exactly prescribes the requirements for these photos. The main requirements are:

  • Complete view of the face, centered on the image
  • Front view of the face
  • Head and shoulders straight
  • Neutral expression, mouth closed
  • Both eyes visible; also in case of glasses
  • No shadows or reflections in face or background
  • Plain background
  • Colour image

Previous to these regulations, other requirements were valid for ID photo's. Especially the photo should be made in a 3/4 view, while one of the ears should be visible and the photo should be black and white. This is described here.

These images are according to legal interpretations, such as 1 or 2 not elegible for copyright.

Threshold of originality

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

Simple logos are okay in the Netherlands but not all logos are. Whether something is above the threshold of originality in the Netherlands is defined in the Supreme Court judgment "'Van Dale/Romme'". In this judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that:[19]

  • In assessing the ground of cassation it should be noted that, for a product to be considered a work of literature, science or art as meant in article 1 in conjunction with article 10 of the Copyright law (Auteurswet), it is required that it has an own, original character and bears the personal mark of the maker.

This was further specified in the Supreme Court judgment ''Endstra-tapes':[20]

  • The product has to bear an own, original character. In short, this means the shape may not be based on that of another work. (cf. article 13 Aw.) The demand that the product has to bear the personal mark of the maker means that there has to be a shape that is the result of creative human labor and thus creative choices, which therefore is a product of the human mind. In any case, excluded from this is everything that has a shape that is so trivial or banal, that one cannot show any creative labor behind it of any kind whatsoever.

Later the Supreme Court determined in judgment on Stokke v. Fikszo that:[21]

  • For a work to be eligible for copyright, it is necessary that the work has an own original character and bears the personal mark of the maker ... The Court of Justice of the European Union has has formulated the benchmark in such a way that it must concern "an intellectual creation of the author of the work".


See also: Commons:Stamps

Red copyright.svg See nl:Wikipedia:Beleid voor gebruik van media/Postzegels (In Dutch).

Prior to 1 January 1989, the government-owned corporation PTT considered Dutch stamps as being created by the PTT company and as such was considered their author. In The Netherlands copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author. With stamps issued prior to 1989, copyright expires 70 years after publication.

From 1 January 1989 onwards, the PTT became the private company TNT Post. The rules are sometimes different compared to the period before 01-01-1989; for example, when there is more than one author of a stamp.

Public domain As of 2023 Dutch stamps created in the period 1852–1952 are considered to be Public Domain.

See also


  1. a b Netherlands Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.
  2. Act of September 23, 1912, containing New Regulation for Copyright (Copyright Act 1912, as amended up to September 1, 2017). Netherlands (2017). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.
  3. Nederlands The Dutch copyright act
  4. English Official English version of the copyright act from
  5. English Official English version of the related rights act from
  6. Marco Caspers (Institute for Information Law) (20 January 2016). The role of Anne Frank’s diary and academic freedom for text & data mining. Retrieved on 2019-03-28.
  7. Auteurswet BES (in Dutch). Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. Retrieved on 2019-03-28.
  8. Auteursverordening (in Dutch). Retrieved on 201903-28.
  9. Jacob Hendrik Spoor, D. W. F. Verkade, D. J. G. Visser (2005). Auteursrecht: auteursrecht, naburige rechten en databankenrecht (in Dutch) 146. Kluwer. Retrieved on 2019-03-28. "Als inbreuk op het auteursrecht op een door of vanwege de openbare macht openbaar gemaakt werk van letterkunde, wetenschap of kunst, waarvan de openbare macht de maker of rechtverkrijgende is, wordt niet beschouwd verdere openbaarmaking of verveelvoudiging daarvan, tenzij het auteursrecht, hetzij in het algemeen bij wet, besluit of verordening, hetzij in een bepaald geval blijkens mededeling op het werk zelf of bij de openbaarmaking daarvan uitdrukkelijk is voorbehouden. Ook als een zodanig voorbehoud niet is gemaakt, behoudt de maker echter het uitsluitend recht, zijn werken, die door of vanwege de openbare macht zijn openbaar gemaakt, in een bundel verenigd te doen verschijnen"
  10. Als inbreuk op het auteursrecht op een werk als bedoeld in artikel 10, eerste lid, onder 6°[1], of op een werk, betrekkelijk tot de bouwkunde als bedoeld in artikel 10, eerste lid, onder 8°, dat is gemaakt om permanent in openbare plaatsen te worden geplaatst, wordt niet beschouwd de verveelvoudiging of openbaarmaking van afbeeldingen van het werk zoals het zich aldaar bevindt. Waar het betreft het overnemen in een compilatiewerk, mag van dezelfde maker niet meer worden overgenomen dan enkele van zijn werken.
    • [1] teeken-, schilder-, bouw- en beeldhouwwerken, lithografieën, graveer- en andere plaatwerken;
    • [2] ontwerpen, schetsen en plastische werken, betrekkelijk tot de bouwkunde, de aardrijkskunde, de plaatsbeschrijving of andere wetenschappen;
  11. Dutch parliament: Kamerstukken II 2002/03 28.482-8, Nota n.a.v. het nadere verslag, p. 15.
  12. a b Dutch parliament: Kamerstukken II 2002/03 28.482-5, Nota n.a.v. het verslag, pp.36-37.
  13. a b c Spoor, J.H; Verkade, D.W.F.; Visser, D.J.G.: Auteursrecht: auteursrecht, naburige rechten en databankenrecht, 3. Ed., Kluwer 2004, ISBN 90-268-3637-4 Invalid ISBN; in particular p. 290.
  14. Wonende te Amsterdam v. CODEMASTERS B.V. publisher=Rechtenmedia (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2019-03-28.
  15. DE GROENE LEGUAAN v. FRIESLAND BANK N.V. (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2019-03-28.
  16. Dutch parliament: Kamerstukken II 2002/03 28.482-3, Memorie van Toelichting, p. 52
  17. De Zwaan, M.: Geen beelden geen nieuws, Cramwinkel 2003, ISBN 90-75727-844; pp. 185-188.
  18. a b Engelfriet, A.: Fotograferen van kunst op openbare plaatsen: Openbare plaatsen zijn bijvoorbeeld plaatsen langs de openbare weg, maar ook stationshallen of winkelcentra.
  19. (HR 04-01-1991, NJ 1991, 608) "Bij de beoordeling van het middel moet worden vooropgesteld dat, wil een voortbrengsel kunnen worden beschouwd als een werk van letterkunde, wetenschap of kunst als bedoeld in art. 1 in verbinding met art. 10 Aw, vereist is dat het een eigen, oorspronkelijk karakter heeft en het persoonlijk stempel van de maker draagt.
  20. (NJ 2008, 556): [D]at het voortbrengsel een eigen, oorspronkelijk karakter moet bezitten, houdt, kort gezegd, in datde vorm niet ontleend mag zijn aan die van een ander werk (vgl. art. 13 Aw). De eis dat het voortbrengsel het persoonlijk stempel van de maker moet dragen betekent dat sprake moet zijn van een vorm die het resultaat is van scheppende menselijke arbeid en dus van creatieve keuzes, en die aldus voortbrengsel is van de menselijke geest. Daarbuiten valt in elk geval al hetgeen een vorm heeft die zo banaal of triviaal is, dat daarachter geen creatieve arbeid van welke aard ook valt te aan te wijzen.
  21. Stokke/Fikszo (in Dutch). de Rechtspraak. Retrieved on 2019-03-28. "Om voor auteursrechtelijke bescherming in aanmerking te komen, is vereist dat het desbetreffende werk een eigen, oorspronkelijk karakter heeft en het persoonlijk stempel van de maker draagt (vgl. HR 30 mei 2008, LJN BC2153, NJ 2008/556 (E)). Het HvJEU heeft de maatstaf aldus geformuleerd dat het moet gaan om "een eigen intellectuele schepping van de auteur van het werk" (HvJEU 16 juli 2009, nr. C-5/08, LJN BJ3749, NJ 2011/288 (Infopaq I))"
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