On 7 July 2017 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that music publishing agreements cannot be terminated without due cause. ECLI:NL:HR:2017:1270.
This occurred in the case between members of the Dutch Pop group Golden Earring and their music publisher Nanada Music.
The Supreme Court is of the opinion that it is “not desirable for exploitation agreements like the one at issue here to be terminated without due cause, because, in view of the investment publishers undertake to make in the work, this would cause too much legal uncertainty for them, which would influence their willingness to invest and this would eventually not be beneficial to authors either”.
The Supreme Court pointed out that in 2015 the Dutch legislature “introduced a system in which the possibility of terminating a contract on the basis of insufficient use (‘non usus’) is elaborated (by stipulating that the publisher must be granted a reasonable period within which it can still fulfil its obligations and additional rules for the situation in which the publisher is not willing or not in a position to transfer the copyright back to the author)”.
“In view of society’s attitudes which are apparent from the parliamentary history, it must be accepted that, in view of the nature and the intention of an exploitation agreement like this one, termination of it requires, in principle, a sufficiently important reason”, according to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also ruled that a timely complaint by the author of the music is also required.
This is the first decision by the Dutch Supreme Court which refers to the new copyright contract law that entered into force on 1 July 2015.
Dutch Supreme Court 7 July 2017, ECLI:NL:HR:2017:1270 (Nanada / Golden Earring).