Portrait rights

Portrait rights are part of copyright. In the Netherlands, these rights fall under the Copyright Act.

Portrait rights entail the right of a person to oppose the publication of his/her portrait. The term portrait should be interpreted broadly. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • photography
  • film and video
  • drawings, cartoons, caricatures
  • paintings.

Legally, a portrait refers to any depiction from which an individual—or several people—is identifiable. Even if the face is not clearly recognisable, body posture, certain attributes or a characteristic setting can turn an image into a ‘portrait’.

The law distinguishes between two types of portraits:

  • commissioned portraits
  • other portraits.

Commissioned portraits

The rules for commissioned portraits are as follows.

  • Prior permission from the person portrayed is always required for publication.
  • The creator of the portrait holds the copyright, but may not publish the portrait without the prior permission of the person portrayed.
  • The person portrayed may use a few copies of the portrait for his/her own purposes or for family/friends and publish them on a limited basis, providing they clearly credit the photographer. The portraits may not be used commercially without the permission of the creator.
  • Third parties wishing to publish a portrait must have the prior permission of the creator as well as the person portrayed.

 Download the permission form for portrait photos.

Other portraits

The rules for non-commissioned portraits are as follows.

  • In principle, these may be published freely.
  • The person portrayed can only oppose publication in the event of a ‘reasonable interest’ (e.g. a privacy, financial or reputational interest).
  • In the case of conflicts, the judge weighs the interests of the creator against those of the person portrayed.

In general, a photographer or videographer may freely shoot images in public space and publish them or transfer them to the client. However, the photographer or videographer must always take into account the interests of the people portrayed. This is a key aspect of the professional ethics of our UM preferred supplier photographers and videographers.

Photographing or filming in non-public areas without the knowledge of the people present is prohibited. This type of shoot always requires permission from the owner/manager of the premises. Those present must be notified in advance of the presence of a photographer or camera crew, and given the opportunity to withdraw from the shoot if they do not wish to appear on camera.