Artist Copyright Act Amendment Bill submitted to Dutch Lower House of Parliament
Mr Teeven, State Secretary for Security and Justice, and Mr Zijlstra, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science submitted a bill to the Dutch Lower House of Parliament which provides authors and performing artists with the option to dissolve all or part of the contract with the operator of their work. Consider the situation in which an author wants his book to be published in digital format, whereas the publisher – who has the digital rights – does not much fancy doing this. The rules bolster the contractual position of authors and performing artists in relation to their operators.
To enable the operation of a work of art, such as the publication of a book, the screening of a film or the distribution of music, the artist grants the operator the power to operate the work. This may be done by assigning the copyright to the operator or by granting permission – under a license agreement – for the publication or reproduction of the work of art. Under such an agreement, the author is often the weaker party.
Therefore, the Dutch government provides for the maker being entitled to a reasonable fee for granting authority to operate the work. If an operator earns money with creative results, the maker should also benefit from this to a reasonable extent. The minister of Education, Culture and Science may determine the reasonable fee at the joint request of artist associations and operators.
In addition, the maker should be able to claim a higher fee if his work unexpectedly becomes a hit and the fee originally agreed is disproportionate to the proceeds of the operator; a so-called ‘bestseller clause’. Moreover, it will be possible under the new legislation to request the court to declare unreasonable clauses in agreements void, for example, clauses that compel an author to assign the rights to all his future works to the publisher.
Another new element is that the artists who contributed most to a film will be entitled to a pro rata fee if they assign their rights to the producer.
Last but not least, the bill creates the basis for a dispute resolution committee. Where there are problems between artists and operators, artists seem to shy away from taking operators to court. An efficient and easily accessible dispute resolution committee may remedy this. In addition to individual artists, artist associations may also submit disputes to the committee.