Teeven abolishes protection of writings

In the near future the Copyright Act will only protect writings based on a creative performance of the creator. This is evident from a draft legislative proposal of State Secretary Teeven of Security and Justice that has been published for internet consultation. The proposal is part of the modernization of copyright announced in the government agreement.

With this legislative proposal the so-called protection of writings for works without original character or personal stamp of the creator will be abolished. At present, for instance, telephone directories, catalogues, timetables, theatre programmes and user manuals can fall under the protection of writings. In that case it is not allowed to copy information from those writings literally.

With the modernization of copyright the government wants to provide space for creativity and innovation. That is why it is important that from now on only creative performances will be protected. The protection of non-original writings that do not form a creative performance is more of a competition law nature than of a copyright nature. It is mainly used by printers, publishers or manufacturers as a weapon against profiting from investments made or to keep products outside the Dutch market. ‘Copyright and therefore the Copyright Act is not the right place for this protection; civil law already offers possibilities for this’, according to Teeven, who takes the view that factual information must in principle be as accessible and exchangeable as possible.

In addition abolition of the protection of writings provides more clarity. In legal practice lack of clarity may exist about the scope of the scheme. This will come to an end now. The abolition may also be advantageous for the consumer: it may have a competition stimulating effect and as a result prices will drop.