Your music copyright

Do you create original work? Then you automatically own the copyright. This means that your work belongs to you, and you can decide how it is used. You don’t have to register your copyright. But if you want to make a living from your copyrighted work, then it is a good idea to join BumaStemra. And we’ll take care of the rest.

Registering your work

It’s very easy to share music nowadays. This sometimes makes it hard to prove who the original creator of the work is. In many countries, including the Netherlands, there are no records of all original works. Protecting your music copyright can therefore be tricky. However, you can register your work with a notary or at I-DEPOT – the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property ( This will strengthen the proof that the work belongs to you.

The Copyright Act – how does it work?

The Copyright Act states that anyone who creates an original (musical) work owns the copyright to that work. The Copyright Act also makes sure that as a creator, you can make money from your work. Because you decide what happens to your work. Protecting your copyright is important. Otherwise, anyone can misuse or plagiarise your work and you won’t make any money. The Copyright Act covers other rights belonging to you as a music creator as well as copyright.


Transferring your exploitation rights

Are you a composer or songwriter? Then you also own your exploitation rights. The exploitation right is the right to publicly communicate and distribute work. This is part of the Copyright Act. Many composers and songwriters transfer their exploitation rights to rights organisations such as BumaStemra.

BumaStemra protects the exploitation and music copyright of over 38,000 composers and songwriters. When you transfer your rights to BumaStemra, we’ll protect them and make sure you get paid if your work is used or distributed.


Your moral rights

Moral rights recognise and protect the personal connection between you and your work. Your moral rights protect you if your work is used in a way that damages your name, values or reputation.

You are entitled to object if someone wants to distribute your work under a different name. This also applies if you do not want someone to change your work or use it in a particular way. Moral rights remain yours. You cannot transfer this right to BumaStemra. You always have the final decision on how and where your work is used.

How long does music copyright last?

Copyright does not last forever. Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the original author. Or in the year following the 70 years to be precise. Then the work can be used freely everywhere. That is why a lot of classical music is copyright free.