Terms and conditions of use

What is a work?
Protection by the Dutch Copyright Act
Works with Open Access
Creative Commons
How do I find resources that I am allowed to reuse?

Many online materials such as texts, videos and images are protected by the Dutch Copyright Act. This page shows you how you can use the work of others, what terms and conditions of use may be associated with a work, and where you can find materials you are allowed to reuse.

What is a work?

A work is any product of literature, science or art expressed in any way or form. According to Dutch case law, the work must have its own original character, be the result of creative choices and bear the creator's personal stamp. In addition, the form must not be derived from that of another work. The following are not considered as works:

  • Facts
  • Data
  • Ideas
  • Thoughts
  • Styles
  • Methods and theories
  • Techniques

Data collections may, however, be protected under the Dutch Database Act.

Protection by the Dutch Copyright Act

Copyright is a right that is granted to the creator of an original work by law. If you authored a piece, you own the copyright in that piece. Copyright is a so-called 'exclusive' right. This means that as the creator, you get to decide what happens to your work. You have the exclusive right to exploit your work. This is also referred to as exploitation rights.

More information about the Dutch Copyright Act can be found on the Copyright fundamentals page.

Works with Open Access

The main characteristic of Open Access works is that they are accessible and available without any financial, legal or technical barriers. They can be identified by the Open Access logo (an open lock).

Creative Commons

A copyright holder may attach conditions to a work, stating whether and in what way the work can be disclosed or reproduced by others. Such a licence immediately makes it clear to everyone what the conditions for using the work are without having to ask for permission. Offering a work under such conditions doesn't mean that the copyright holder waives their copyright.

The Creative Commons licences are the most commonly used. It has 6 (free) available standard variants (see below) that copyright holders can use to determine the extent to which the work can be distributed further and the conditions for this. The possibilities for the free disclosure or reproduction of the work by third parties will depend on the copyright holder's type of Creative Commons licence.

Authors can also publish their work under a different licence that is not a CC licence, so pay close attention to the conditions the author sets for the work's reuse.

If you can't find any information about reusing a work that you found online, the material is probably protected under the Dutch Copyright Act.

The Creative Commons licences

There are a total of 6 different Creative Commons licences. We have ranked them from least restrictive to most restrictive below.

  •   Attribution
  •   Attribution – Share-alike
  •   Attribution – Non-commercial
  •   Attribution – Non-commercial – Share-alike
  •   Attribution – No derivative works
  •   Attribution – Non-commercial – No derivative works

Public domain

A work falls into the public domain when the copyright has expired (70 years after the creator's death or 70 years after publication if the work was created by a company), or when the author himself declares that the work is in the public domain. Please note that an adaptation or reproduction of a work that is in the public domain does not automatically fall into the public domain as well.

Laws, ordinances and judgments of the courts of the Netherlands are not subject to any rights and are automatically in the public domain. Other Dutch government publications are not regarded in the public domain and are therefore subject to the Dutch Copyright Act. But please note that if government publications have been (co-)written by external parties such as research agencies, copyright is likely.

The Creative Commons CC0 (or CC zero) public domain statement is not a licence. It is a document used by copyright holders to indicate they waive all copyrights. CC0 applies to works that are still protected by copyright but for which the rightsholder wants to waive these rights. Works made available under CC0 can therefore be publicly disclosed and reproduced by anyone. Attribution (crediting the author) is also not mandatory.

The Creative Commons public domain mark is also not a licence. It is a method of marking works that are no longer protected by copyright or related rights or can't be copyright protected. Works bearing the public domain mark can therefore be publicly disclosed and reproduced by anyone.

How do I find resources that I am allowed to reuse?

Use CC Search

On the Creative Commons website you can search for content that you can share, use and remix. The site provides access to various search engines for media such as images, video or music, and only includes works with a licence for reuse.

Use filters in search engines

Most major search engines for websites, images, videos, etc. have a filter option that allows you to search specifically for materials with specific user rights or licences. Google, Bing, Flickr and YouTube all offer this option.

Special sites with materials for reuse

Sites such as edusources, Wikimedia Commons, Europeana and Wikiwijs Leermiddelenplein offer large quantities of materials with a licence for reuse or CC0 licence.

Materials on stock sites

Stock sites specialise in the provision and sale of photos, images and audio (visual) works for reuse in various media. These are usually commercial sites. However, some stock sites offer free stock photos with lots of possibilities for reuse.

Examples of sites offering royalty-free photos and illustrations are:

Music and sound

SHERPA/RoMEO: most important Open Access database

SHERPA/RoMEO is the most important database that includes the policies of (scientific) publishers for the use of Open Access work. RoMEO stands for Rights MEtadata for Open Archiving. The database allows you to check the Open Access possibilities offered by a specific journal in a consistent and clear way.


If you have any questions, please contact your institution's Copyright Information Point.