How is copyright established?
In the Netherlands, no formality at all is required to obtain copyright. Copyright ensues automatically from the creation of the work. The only condition is that the work should be “sufficiently original”, that is to say, that a measure of creativeness underlies the work.
Copyright can be obtained on a variety of objects. Some examples are books, brochures, photographs, drawings, pictures and sculptures, but television programmes, databanks, computer programmes, slogans, et cetera, also come to mind.
Who is the holder of copyright?
In principle, the copyright always comes to the creator of the work. However, the creator may transfer the copyright. For example, an advertising agency, having by a client’s commission developed a new logo, may subsequently transfer the copyright to that logo to its client.
An exception to this general rule obtains with regard to employers and employees. When an employee creates a work, the Copyright Act prescribes that the rights to this work come to the employer if the activities involved are included in the employee’s function. For example, if a copywriter employed by a publishing company writes an article, the publishing company is the copyright holder.
On the other hand, when an employee designs something not inherent in his function, the copyright does not automatically come to the employer. Think, for instance, of a doorkeeper designing a new logo for the hotel that employs him.
Duration of the copyright
Copyright will end 70 years after the creator’s death. The duration of the copyright thus depends on the moment of creation and that of the maker’s death. If the copyright is held by a business company, the right ends 70 years after the work’s first publication. When a work no longer carries copyright, anybody may copy, publish and process it.
Copyright Notice (©)
Although not obligatory, you may indicate that a work is protected by copyright. You can do so by means of the ©-symbol + holder’s name + year.
Copyright to an idea
In principle, it is not possible to protect an idea. However, its elaboration can be eligible for copyright protection. To that end, you need to elaborate your idea on paper. If, for instance, you have conceive an idea for a certain game, you will do well to write out the precise rules of the game, the number of participants, the tasks they have to fulfil, the manner of working out the scores, etc.
Suppose your game is exceptional enough to be protected by copyright. If you come into conflict with a third party, you will have to prove that you were the first to conceive the game. In that case it is vital to possess good documentation of the idea, formally dated, from which transpires that you conceived the game on that date.
If necessary, you may obtain this official date by means of I-deposit. More relevant information is available on our website under the heading I-deposit.
Some elements of the game can indeed be registered if wanted. Think, for instance, of trademark protection of the game’s name, and model protection for the outward appearance of the game board.
These are only a few of the many aspects of copyright. Do not hesitate to call us for further information.