Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Belgium

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Belgium relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Belgium must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Belgium 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 Belgium, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.

Governing laws

Belgium has been a member of the Berne Convention since 5 December 1887, the WIPO treaty since 30 August 2006 and the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Code de droit économique (Code of Economic Law) (updated on September 10, 2018) as the main IP law enacted by the legislature of Belgium.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database. Book XI. of this law covers intellectual property and business secrets.[2] The website holds the Dutch and French text of this law.[3][4]

General rules

According to the law as of 2018 (Art. XI.166.):

  • Copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. Rights to works created by employees or under contract may be transferred to the employer or contractee.
  • With collaborative works, copyright protection lasts for 70 years after death of the last surviving author. For audiovisual works, this includes various people with defined roles in production of the work, including the director, scenarist and authors of text and music.
  • For anonymous or pseudonymous works, copyright protection lasts for 70 years after publication unless there is no doubt about the author's identity or they reveal their identity, in which case copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author.
  • The above durations all end on 1 January of the year following the last year of protection.
  • A portrait may not be reproduced without the permission of the person represented or their heirs for 20 years after their death.

Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Currency


OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK Banknotes denominated in Belgian francs issued by the National Bank of Belgium can still be exchanged for an undetermined period of time. The Bank still owns copyrights with regard to the design of the banknotes it has issued, in accordance with the legislation on intellectual property rights. Therefore, these banknotes may not be reproduced without the Bank's permission, subject to the observance of the conditions the Bank has laid down. The same kind of restrictions apply to reproductions of Belgium banknotes as to Euro banknotes.[5]


Pictogram-voting-question.svg Unknown

De minimis

See also: Commons:De minimis

Art. XI.190 of the Code on Economic Law states:

  • Once a work has been lawfully published, its author may not prohibit: [...] 2°. reproduction and communication to the public of a work shown in a place accessible to the public where the aim of reproduction or communication to the public is not the work itself [...].

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OOjs UI icon check-constructive.svg OK: {{FoP-Belgium}}

Since 1 January 2015, Belgian copyright law is defined by Title 5 of Book XI (intellectual property) of the Code on Economic Law. It replaced the Copyright Act of 30 June 1994. On 16 June 2016 the Belgian Parliament introduced freedom of panorama by adding the following to article XI.190 of the Code on Economic Law (translated here to English):

"Once a work has been lawfully published, its author may not prohibit: [...] 2/1°. reproduction and communication to the public of works of plastic, graphic or architectural art designed to be placed on a permanent basis in public places, provided that the reproduction or the communication of the work is as it is found there and that this reproduction or communication does not infringe upon the normal exploitation of the work and does not cause unreasonable harm to the legitimate interests of the author."[2018 Art.XI.190]

The Act was signed into law on 27 June, published on 5 July, and took effect on 15 July 2016.


  • An explanation that was attached to a draft version of the freedom of panorama provision stated that the provision was intended to apply to locations that are permanently accessible to the public, such as public streets and squares, and that the provision was not intended to apply inside of public museums or other buildings that are not permanently open to the public.[6][7] According to the explanation, if a work of art is situated inside a building that is not permanently open to the public, then the artist may not have expected public exhibition of the work.
  • Before 15 July 2016, there was no panorama freedom in Belgium. Modern pieces of art could not be the central motive of a commercially available photograph without permission of the artwork copyright holder. See also this discussion from 2009.
  • Another exception to copyright, de minimis, is stated in article XI.190 (previously article 22 in the 1994 act) of the law: "Once a work has been lawfully published, its author may not prohibit: [...] 2°. reproduction and communication to the public of a work shown in a place accessible to the public where the aim of reproduction or communication to the public is not the work itself [...]". These conditions need not be met any more if the conditions of freedom of panorama as stated above are met.


See also: Commons:Stamps

Red copyright.svg In Belgium an image of a stamp is copyright free when the following conditions are fulfilled: 70 years after La Poste / De Post have issued the stamp AND 70 years after the designer of the image on the stamp has died.

The works of the following artists are in public domain because the artist died before 31 December 1945.

The work of the following artists will be in public domain on 1 January following 70 years after their death

See also


  1. a b Belgium Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-11.
  2. Code of Economic Law (updated on September 10, 2018). Belgium (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-11.
  3. Wetboek van economisch recht (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2019-3-24.
  4. Code de droit économique (in French). Retrieved on 2019-03-24.
  5. Reproduction of Belgian franc banknotes. National Bank of Belgium. Retrieved on 2019-03-24..
  6. Belgium to adopt bill on the freedom of panorama. News Media Coalition (2016-05-12). Retrieved on 2016-07-17.
  7. Proposition de loi modifiant le Code de droit économique en vue de l’introduction de la liberté de panorama. Chamber of Representatives (Belgium) (2015-11-26). Retrieved on 2019-11-29.
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