Under the Dutch Copyright Act, copyright attaches to each original work which bears the personal mark of the creator. Of old, the Act has also protected non-original works in written form, such as telephone directories, television program data and train schedules, against direct copying. The information itself is not protected, but only the form in which it has been presented.

In a decision of 10 July 1996 the President of the District Court of Haarlem has ruled that such copyright protection also extends to PTT Telecom's telephone directory on CD-rom. This electronic directory had been copied by the Vuurwerk (Fireworks) company which subsequently made the directory available on the Internet under the name WebTel. Following the court injunction PTT Telecom has issued its own electronic telephone directly on the Internet. Apparently its popularity had not been foreseen as PTT Telecom had to temporarily close the site due to the lines being blocked too often.

The copyright protection for non-original works will be replaced in the near future, when the EC-directive on the legal protection of databases is implemented in the Netherlands Copyright Act. This Directive provides for a 15 year protection for the content of a database (including electronic databases) against unauthorized extraction or re-utilization af a substantial part thereof. It stipulates that this should be the sole protection for such non-original works. The Directive has to be implemented by 1 January 1998.

For further information contact Sebastiaan Le Poole at telephone No. +31 (0)20-5772302 or Wolter Wefers Bettink at +31 (0)20-5772367. You may also send a fax to +31 (0)20-5772703 or e-mail to 100317.2121@compuserve.com.


  • On line telefoongids op Internet verboden, article in Financieel Dagblad dated 17 July 1996;
  • Databankrichtlijn: de geschriftenbescherming voorbij?, article NTER 1996, No. 7.