nl / en

Author’s rights for makers

Author’s rights prevent you to just copy or display other people’s work without permission.

For example, Beyoncé couldn’t just copy choreographies by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in her video clip Countdown. Or at least not without De Keersmaeker’s explicit permission.

Copyright also ensures that an author can earn money from the use of their creation. For example, musicians can earn some money when their music is played on Spotify or on the radio.

Copyright is involved as soon as two conditions are met:

  1. The work is original: it is an intellectual creation bearing the creator’s personal mark.
  2. The work has a tangible form (e.g. a text, musical score etc.). An idea that is only in your head is not covered by copyright. An idea that you write down or make tangible in another way is covered, however.

A creator or author doesn’t need to do anything to apply copyright. Copyright arises automatically as soon as the two aforesaid conditions are met.

One work can have more than one author. A dance production might be a creation by a choreographer, light designer, composer and scenery designer, for example. A song can be written by several people.

Neighboring rights (naburige rechten) for performers

Neighboring rights protect the rights of producers and performing artists, such as singers and musicians who record music for a CD or actors who play in a series that is released on DVD.

They are not the ‘authors’ or creators of the work of art, but they do perform it as artists, which is why they are protected by neighboring rights.

Someone can have both author’s rights and neighboring rights at the same time. A composer who writes songs and also performs them, for example. Or a choreographer who creates a dance production and dances in it as well.

We collect the neighboring rights through what is called ‘equitable remuneration’ (billijke vergoeding).

How long do author’s rights and neighboring rights last?

Works are protected by copyright until 70 years after the death of the (longest-lived) author. Usually this means you can use the work without permission or remuneration after that point.

The protection period for performing artists (neighboring rights) elapses 50 years after the date of the performance.

To give a specific example: Mozart’s scores are in the public domain (since he died more than 70 years ago), but that does not automatically mean that his music is completely free from any rights. If you have a recent recording by an orchestra, there might still be neighboring rights on it.

Moral and economic rights

Authors and performers benefit from two types of right: moral rights and economic rights.

Moral rights or individual rights are rights connected to the author or performer’s person. They allow the author in person to decide when they make a work public, to object to changes or adaptations to the work etc. These rights can never be exercised by people other than the artist.

Economic rights ensure that an author or performer can earn money on what is called the ‘exploitation’ of a work. These rights are often managed by associations such as Sabam or SACD. The econmic rights state that for every reproduction, copy or exhibition of a work, you need the permission of the author or representative.


Theoretically, nobody can simply copy, use or display a work protected by copyright. But there are a few exceptions to this rule.

The use of works within the family or a private group is almost always allowed. What is more, there are flexible guidelines for libraries, for the use of works in education, caricatures, parodies and pastiches.

Read more

Cultuurloket has exhaustive information about author’s rights on their website (In Dutch).

More questions?

Contact Danspunt

What’s hot in the world of dance? Read all about it in DANST, our quarterly magazine (only available in Dutch).


Are you working on your own performance and could you use some artistic and substantive advice? We send a professional coach to constructively support you!

Ask for feedback