Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Antarctica

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Antarctica relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Antarctica must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Antarctica and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Antarctica, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.


Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometers (5,500,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. At 0.00008 people per square kilometer, it is by far the least densely populated continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Copyright status[edit]

The Antarctic Treaty System sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. The treaty is explicitly neutral on the question of territorial claims, as stated in Article IV.

Seven sovereign states have territorial claims in Antarctica: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, with some overlap between the claims. These countries usually placed their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their claimed territories. However, facilities operated by one country are sometimes in territory claimed by another. Countries without territorial claims such as Russia and the United States have research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries. No countries claim Marie Byrd Land.

For Wikimedia purposes, we should assume the most restrictive possible rule applies.

  • Any photograph or other work made in Antarctica must be free of copyright in the United States. For example, anything published before January 1, 1927 is in the public domain in the United States.
  • If a work was made within one of the territorial claim areas, the copyright laws of the country claiming the territory also apply.
  • If a work was made within an area claimed by two countries, the most restrictive of the laws of the two countries also apply.
  • If the location is unknown but the nationality of the creator is known, the laws of the creator's country also apply.

British Antarctic Territory[edit]

According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, "There is no intellectual property right (IPR) legislation for this territory."[1]

Argentine Antarctica[edit]

See Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Argentina for the likely law.

Australian Antarctica[edit]

See Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Australia for the likely law.[2]

Chilean Antarctic Territory[edit]

See Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Chile for the likely law.

French Southern and Antarctic Lands[edit]

Further information: Commons:Copyright rules by territory/French Southern and Antarctic Lands

See Commons:Copyright rules by territory/France for the likely law.


See also[edit]

Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer