Commons:Anonymous works

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Jump to: navigation, search

Due to the Berne Convention, all creative works, within the boundary of local laws, are automatically subject to copyright protection, even if they are published with no author information or under a pseudonym on purpose (otherwise known as an anonymous work). However, this is different from situations where you may just find an image on a web site with no attribution at all. Anonymous works also bring special consideration in judging if a work is in the public domain.

Comparison[edit]

Anonymous works[edit]

An anonymous work is a work published by its author, who wishes to remain anonymous, and either under no name at all, or a pseudonym that easily cannot be connected to its creator, defined in US law as "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author." Often the rules for copyright expiration change if this is the case. If there is no known author, you can't establish a date of death (if any), so in most cases, it is a fixed term based off how many years since the work was published. Article 7.3 of the Berne Convention mandates a minimum of 50 years of protection for anonymous works from the date it was "lawfully made available to the public", rather than 50 years after the death of its author.

In most countries however, if the author does disclose his identity, the normal term is granted automatically like it was never even published anonymously. However, only case law in some countries has actually specified what could happen if the author revealed himself after the term ends.

No author information[edit]

If a website offers an image but does not attribute its author, in most cases it was published by an author but exhibited on a website without mentioning its true author at all. The fact that you don't know who the author is doesn't make it an anonymous work. Reliable sources must be found that prove it was originally published anonymously. In all cases, Always provide detailed author information when uploading images to Commons.

Situations by country[edit]

Unless otherwise noted, it is assumed that most countries utilize the 50 years rule under the Berne Convention.

70 years after publishing[edit]

In most European Union countries due to the harmonization of copyright terms, an anonymous work is given 70 years of protection from the day it was published (which can often make anonymous works published before 1944 be considered to be in the public domain). Albania, Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Norway, and Paraguay also use 70 years.

France[edit]

Article L123-3 of the Code de la propriété intellectuelle :

In France, an anonymous work is given 70 years of protection from the start of the year after it was published, rather than the date it was published. If the author disclose himself within 70 years after the first publication, the protection duration become the same as for normally published works (at least 70 years after death of author).

If an anonymous work was not published within 70 years after its creation, its owner who publish it for the first time get granted an exclusive right for a duration of 25 years from the start of the year after it was published.

Canada[edit]

Canada uses 50 years after publication or 75 after creation, whichever is earlier.

India[edit]

Anonymous works are protected for 60 years from the date of publication.

Mongolia[edit]

Anonymous works are protected for 75 years after publication.

Russia[edit]

Anonymous works are protected for 70 years after publication. See {{PD-Russia}} for more.

United Kingdom[edit]

If the author is unknown then the basic time period to bear in mind is 70 years. If the work has an unknown author and was created after 30 August 1989 copyright expires either 70 years after creation or if during that period the work is made available to the public 70 years after that. If the work is a photograph with an unknown author taken before 1 June 1957 then copyright expires 70 years after creation or if during that period the work is made available to the public 70 years after that. If the work was created before 1969 with an unknown author then several scenarios can apply:

  1. If the work was published before 30 August 1989 then copyright expires 70 years after first publication.
  2. If the work is unpublished and was first made available to the public after 1968 then copyright expires 70 years after the work was first made available to the public.
  3. If the work is unpublished and has never been made available to the public then copyright expires at the end of 2039.
  4. If the work is unpublished and was first made available to the public before 1969 then copyright expires at the end of 2039.

United States[edit]

As US law previously required a copyright notice and renewal in order to gain or maintain protection (which must contain the author's name and year of publishing), it can be assumed that anonymous works that did not comply with any of the country's formalities are automatically in the public domain in the United States. After 1989, the terms are now 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is less, unless it was first published outside the country and entered the public domain before January 1, 1996.