World-famous DJ Martijn Garritsen (known to the wider public as Martin Garrix) has been at odds with Spinnin’ Records since 2015, when he announced he would be leaving the label. In 2017, Martin Garrix sought relief from the court, alleging that Spinnin’ Records misled him when he first signed a contract with the label. During this legal battle, which reached the Dutch Supreme Court (de Hoge Raad), two questions came to the forefront:
- Did Martin Garrix rightfully terminate the agreement, despite the records label’s option of a two-year renewal of the contract against the same conditions; and
- Who under the Dutch Neighboring Rights Act (Wet op de naburige rechten) should be considered the producer of a phonogram (i.e., the sound recording)?
On 17 December 2021, the Supreme Court ruled on both issues. As regards the Spinnin’ Record’s renewal option, the Dutch Supreme Court held that the fairness of this stipulation should be assessed by looking at the circumstances under which the initial agreement was formed, thus overruling the Court of Appeal’s (het gerechtshof) finding that Martin Garrix’s later commercial success should be factored into the assessment. Consequently, the Dutch Supreme Court remanded the first issue to the Court of Appeal in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which must again decide whether Martin Garrix rightfully terminated the agreement. As to the second issue, the Dutch Supreme Court confirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Martin Garrix is the producer of the phonograms, as he coordinated and had (financial) responsibility for the initial sound recordings.
Awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court’s ruling is not the end of this story.