Commons:Copyright rules by territory/European Union

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


The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The Copyright Directive (officially the Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society), is a directive of the European Union enacted to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty and to harmonise aspects of copyright law across Europe, such as copyright exceptions.[1] The European Union has been a Contracting Party to the WIPO Copyright Treaty with effect from 14 March 2010.[2]

EU members are:

In addition to the normal copyright, there are some related rights that may apply:

  • The publication right lasts 25 year from first publication of a previously unpublished work the copyright term of which has ended. The publisher gets exclusive copyright-like rights to the work.
  • The database right is an exclusive right to some aspects of copying any significant portion of facts from a compilation, lasting 15 years, but new versions of the collection are equally protected for 15 years.


See also: Commons:Copyright tags

The following tags apply to works published in any country which has copyright legislation harmonized to the European Union directives.

  • {{PD-old-70}} – for works in the public domain because their copyright has expired in countries and areas copyrighting works for life plus 70 years or less.
  • {{PD-anon-70-EU}} – anonymous work more than 70 years old (European Union).
  • {{PD-EU-no author disclosure}} – anonymous work published more than 70 years ago without a public claim of authorship and no subsequent claim of authorship in the 70 years following its first publication (European Union).
  • {{PD-EEA}} – Image in the public domain because it is extracted from the European Environment Agency Website, whose material is in the public domain unless otherwise stated.
  • {{Attribution-Eur-Lex}} – for works of law of the European Union, as recorded on Eur-Lex
  • {{Attribution-Eurostat}} – for works from the European Union's statistical agency, Eurostat
  • {{PD-European-Commission}} – for works produced by the commission without specified restrictions; works on or its portal are CC-BY-4.0.

Individual countries of the European Union may also have country-specific tags.


See also: Commons:Currency

Euro banknotes

OK. Under conditions. (use {{Money-EU}} for images of Euro banknotes). The rules for reproducing Euro banknotes were published in the Official Journal of the European Union, L078 of 25 March 2003.[3] In summary, Euro banknotes are copyright of the European Central Bank, and the following rules apply to one-sided reproductions, such as pictures on websites:

  • The size of the reproduction must be at least 125% or not greater than 75% of both the length and width of the banknote.
  • Reproductions depicting a part of either side of the note should be smaller than one-third of the original side.
  • On intangible reproductions (e.g. websites), the word SPECIMEN must be printed diagonally across the reproduction in Arial font or similar, in a non-transparent color contrasting with the dominant color of the note. The length of the word must be at least 75% of the length of the reproduction, and the height of the word must be at least 15% of the width of the reproduction. The resolution of the image must not exceed 72 dots per inch (dpi).
Euro coins

OK. Common side, under conditions. Copyright of the common side of the coin lies with the Commission of the European Union, which has determined that reproduction in a format without relief (e.g. drawing, pictures), provided that they are not detrimental to the image of the euro, is authorized.[4][5][6] A deletion request was made in 2010 regarding them (Commons:Deletion requests/Template:Euro coin common face 2) and the conclusion was to keep them but they were deleted regardless. They were reinstated after a deletion review.

"Reproduction of all or part of the common face design of the euro coins is authorised without recourse to a specific procedure in the following cases ... for photographs, drawings, paintings, films, images, and generally reproductions in flat format (without relief) provided they are in faithful likeness and are used in ways which do not damage or detract from the image of the euro."[6]

 Not OK. National side may not be acceptable. Copyright of the national side of the coin is determined by the individual Member States in accordance with national legislation. It is copyrighted in some of them. For more information see Copyright of the national sides of euro circulation coins ( XLSX format file).[7]

De minimis

See also: Commons:De minimis

The Copyright Directive (Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society allows for de minimis exception in Art. 5(3)(i):[8]

  • Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the rights provided for in Articles 2 and 3 in the following cases: […] incidental inclusion of a work or other subject-matter in other material.

Under the generic conditions of Article 5(5):

  • The exceptions and limitations provided for in paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 shall only be applied in certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work or other subject-matter and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightsholder.

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

There is a European Parliament directive on the harmonisation of the copyright law 2001/29/EC which asserts in article 5 section 3 letter h that the copyright law of the member states may restrict the copyright rights for sculptures and buildings exposed in public places:

"Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the rights provided for in Articles 2 and 3 in the following cases: (...) (h) use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places".[9]


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