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Assignment and licence

What arrangements can be made with a publisher?

Publisher

You can enter into a verbal or written agreement with a publisher about the publication of your work.

In a verbal agreement, you can generally only permit the inclusion of an article in a specific issue of a specific magazine. You can also decide for yourself what you want to do with the article: no copyright is assigned or exclusive licence granted, as this can only be done in writing by means of a deed intended for this purpose. In some cases, the magazine's copyright page will state what you give permission for. This has no legal value, however. For publications other than articles a written agreement is generally concluded.

In case of a written agreement, a number of situations can be distinguished:

  1. You assign the copyright to the publisher. In that case, the employer may do as it pleases with the material. However, it must be clear which copyrights (in what) have been assigned: if this is not clear, they are not considered assigned. Read the Dutch copyright contract law that came into force on 1 July 2015 (amendments to the Copyright Act) and check whether this applies to your situation. Also see: Can I change my publisher’s standard contract?
  2. You grant the publisher an exclusive licence (user rights) to (part of) the material, but you don't assign the copyright. Although the publisher doesn't own the copyright, only the publisher is allowed to use the resources as agreed. Check the Dutch copyright contract law that came into force on 1 July 2015 (amendments to the Copyright Act) and check whether this applies to your situation.
  3. You grant the publisher a non-exclusive licence, for which the copyright is not assigned. The publisher may only use your resources in the way that is described in the agreement. Because the licence is non-exclusive, you can also grant these user rights to others. To be on the safe side, check the Dutch copyright contract law that came into force on 1 July 2015 (amendments to the Dutch Copyright Act) and check whether this applies to your situation.

What is the difference between assignment and a licence? You can compare this to the difference between selling and letting a house. If you sell a house, there is a new owner. If you let a house, the tenant only has permission to use the house. The provisions of a written agreement usually supersede the provisions of the Dutch Copyright Act. However, this is not the case if a compulsory provision from the Dutch Copyright Act applies; such provisions can't be circumvented with contractual arrangements. Therefore always take a close look at the contract you concluded with your publisher to determine what you are allowed to do with your publications.