Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Finland

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

Governing laws

Finland has been a member of the Berne Convention since 1 April 1928, the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995 and the WIPO Copyright Treaty since 14 March 2010.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Copyright Act (Act No. 404/1961 of July 8, 1961, as amended up to Act No. 972/2016 of November 18, 2016) as the main IP law enacted by the legislature of Finland.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database.[2] The Finnish Ministry of Justice website holds an English translation of the Copyright Act 404/1961, with amendments up to 608/2015 on its website.[3] Finlex holds up-to-date Finnish and Swedish versions of the act.[4][5]

General rules

Under the Copyright Act 404/1961, with amendments up to 608/2015,

  • Copyright subsists until 70 years have elapsed from the year of the author's death or, in the case of a work of joint authorship, from the year of death of the last surviving author.[404/1961–2015 Sec.43(1)]
  • Copyright in a cinematographic work subsists until 70 years have elapsed from the year of the death of the last of the following to survive: the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue and the composer of music specifically created for use in the cinematographic work.[404/1961–2015 Sec.43(1)]
  • Copyright in a musical work with lyrics, when the lyrics and music have been specifically created for the work, subsists until 70 years have elapsed from the death of the last surviving lyricist or composer, whether or not they have been appointed as the authors of the musical work with lyrics.[404/1961–2015 Sec.43(2)]
  • Copyright in a work made public without mention of the author's name or generally known pseudonym or pen name shall subsist until 70 years have elapsed from the year in which it was made public.[404/1961–2015 Sec.44(1)]
    • If the identity of the author is disclosed during the period referred to in subsection 1, the provisions of section 43 shall apply.[404/1961–2015 Sec.44(2)]
    • The copyright in a work not made public, whose author is unknown, shall subsist until 70 years have elapsed from the year in which the work was created.[404/1961–2015 Sec.44(3)]
  • Anyone who for the first time publishes or makes public a previously unpublished work for which the protection has expired obtains a right that subsists until 25 years have elapsed from the year in which the work was published.[404/1961–2015 Sec.44a]

Photographs that are not works of art

The right to a photographic picture [that does not qualify as a "work of art"] shall be in force until 50 years have elapsed from the end of the year during which the photographic picture was made.[404/1961–2015 Sec.49a]

Photographs considered to be "works of art" are protected normally for 70 years after the death of the work's creator.[404/1961–2015 Sec.43] The difference between a photograph and a photographic work of art is not precisely defined. To qualify as a work of art, the photograph must express personal vision such that no other person can be expected to have produced a similar image. As an example, the (legally not binding) statement by the Finnish Copyright Council states that this photograph of Paavo Nurmi "— is, despite its historical importance, a regular photograph of contemporary events. The photograph does not demonstrate original and personal contribution on the part of the photographer and so it cannot be regarded as a photographic work (of art)."[6]

An amendment to the Copyright Act (1991) extended the copyright time from 25 years (according to the 1961 copyright law) to 50 years. However, material already released to public domain according to the 1961 law remain in public domain and therefore all photographs (but not photographic works of art) released before 1966 are in the public domain (and were in the public domain at the URAA date).

Photographs featuring works of art exhibited in public spaces can only be used for non-commercial purposes other than in certain contexts (similar to "fair use"), unless it is clear that the work is not the main subject in the photo (freedom of panorama). Taking photographs of buildings (works of architecture) is explicitly allowed, but photographing single, private homes or yards may be illegal based on privacy laws.

Photographs of people

The law regarding images of living people is unclear and the advice below is mostly deduced from recommendations, case law and legal literature. Possible consequences of the Data Protection Directive of the EU and related domestic legislation have not been considered below.

Domestic privacy (kotirauha, hemfrid): people in private yards, homes or similar places (which includes temporary overnighting facilities, such as tents) may not be observed by technical means, nor photographed, other than rightfully (which may open for de minimis defence in some cases).

Photos of people who are of public interest (famous politicians, artists, sportsmen) and who are carrying out their public duties or going about their usual work may be published without consent. In case of politicians, public officials and important persons in economical life, photos of private life may also be published in certain cases, where the information is important for their role and for public interest.

Photos of regular people in public places may only be published without their consent if the person is clearly not the main subject of the image and the picture does not cause damage, suffering or despise to the person in the picture. Photographs of public events or regular life in the streets should be unproblematic, unless some individual people are shown prominently or somebody is doing something stupid. In the latter case, whether showing the incident is unimportant, and whether the person did not intend the action to be public, should be considered.

However, if the person can be identified, the image may not be used in advertisement (commercially or non-commercially) without consent. Even when a person is not clearly identifiable, using a picture with the person as the main subject may require their consent. The images should be marked with {{Personality rights}} as the uploader may be held responsible for allowing such use.

Not protected


See also: Commons:Unprotected works

Under the Copyright Act 404/1961, with amendments up to 608/2015, there shall be no copyright:[404/1961–2015 Sec.9(1)]

  • In laws and decrees;
  • In resolutions, stipulations and other documents which are published under the Act on the Statutes of Finland (188/2000) and the Act on the Regulations of Ministries and other Government Authorities (189/2000);
  • Treaties, conventions and other corresponding documents containing international obligations;
  • Decisions and statements issued by public authorities or other public bodies;
  • Translations of documents referred to above made by or commissioned by public authorities or other public bodies.

As of the 2005 revision, copyright protection continues to apply to independent works contained in the documents referred to in the list above.[404/1961–2015 Sec.9(1)] A work that is part of or attached to a decision or something similar is often such that it was not produced specifically as a part of the decision or as an attachment to it. In such a case, it is not reasonable that the attached work should also automatically lose copyright protection. An example is a work of fine art included in currency. This applies to independent works included in both the text of the document and its appendices. These independent works could be reproduced in connection with the document in question and used separately from the document for the purpose to which the document is related, but due to these restrictions the document or the protected independent work it contains cannot be uploaded to Commons.[7]

The textual, and in many cases the graphical, representations of Finnish coat of arms of municipalities, regions and provinces are considered to be part of decisions of public bodies and therefore they are not protected by copyright. According to the opinions of the Finnish Copyright Council even the graphical representation is thought (at least in these cases) not to be protected by copyright.[8][9]

Either the graphical representations were part of the decisions of the municipalities (whether they could be considered works of art was thought to be irrelevant), or the alterations made did not meet the requirements for an original work of art. The coats of arms of historical provinces and other historical coats of arms are not protected by copyright: if there has been any copyright, it has expired.

Coats of arms of new entities should be analysed on a case-by-case basis. Usually they are based on old coats of arms and not eligible, but there is no guarantee unless they are included in public decisions. Some unofficial coats of arms, e.g. for former municipalities, which never had official coats of arms, are private creations under copyright, provided they reach the threshold of originality.

Reproductions of out-of-copyright works

See also: Commons:Reuse of PD-Art photographs#Nordic

National recommendations (JHS 189) for open licensing in Finland is CC-BY and most of the open digital archives are following it. A digitised work (particularly of a three-dimensional object) could lead to protection by a related right as a non original photograph. The Copyright council has stated that the start time of copyright protection of a photograph is when the photograph is taken. Reproductions of out of copyright photographs are copies and do not get new copyright protection.[10]

Copyright tags

See also: Commons:Copyright tags

  • {{PD-Finland50}} – for photographic simple images in the public domain according to Finnish law.
  • {{PD-Finland}} – for works of art (photographic included) in the public domain according to Finnish law. Same as {{PD-old-70}} for Finnish works.
  • {{PD-FinlandGov}} – for laws, statements and decisions of Finnish officials.
  • {{PD-Coa-Finland}} – for Finnish coats of arms of municipalities, districts or administrative or historical provinces.
  • {{PD-FinlandStamp}} – for postage stamps published before January 1, 1990.
  • {{PD-Kansallisarkisto}} – for archives material from the digital database of Finnish National Archives Service
  • {{PD-Raita}} – for records from the Raita database.[11]


See also: Commons:Currency

 Not OK. Some exceptions do apply. The Bank of Finland claims that using images of banknotes and Euro coins is subject to permission. For Euro banknotes and the shared side of Euro coins: see COM:CRT/European Union:Currency. For markka banknotes, permission has been granted given provided certain guidelines are followed, see below. There is a statement from the Finnish Copyright Council (a semi-official body giving advice on copyright) that the use of an image on a markka coin is not subject to copyright, as the designs of coins were part of decrees. The statement could apply more broadly.

Decisions by governmental institutions are excepted from copyright. This includes images that are part of the decisions (see e.g. statement 1989:13 of the Finnish Copyright Council, on using the image of a coin), unless those are separate works, which is thought to apply only in unusual cases. In the old law on money there was no mention of copyright. Thus the images on markka banknotes and coins should be in the public domain, and likewise the images on the national side of euro coins.

There might be copyright issues, independent of the copyright by governmental bodies, if a design element is a derived work of a pre-existing work. The last 20 mark and 100 mark banknotes are known to be encumbered by this.

Counterfeit legislation does apply: it is criminal to publish images that are confusingly similar to legal tender (chapter 37, article 7 of the penal code). For instructions about Euro notes and coins see above.

The Bank of Finland claims it has copyright on Finnish (i.e. mark) banknotes and states that illegal reproduction of banknotes is punishable as counterfeit or fraud according to chapter 33 and 36 of the Penal Code (these seem not to apply to good faith use), or as breach of copyright.


  • On copyright protection of the common face design of the euro coins.[12]
  • Bank of Finland 2015 guide how to use pictures of the notes.[13]
  • Decision of the European central bank of 19 April 2013 on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal of euro banknotes (recast)[14]
  • The penal code chapter 37, article 7, and chapter 33 and 36.[15]
  • Statement of the Finnish Copyright Council on using an image of the markka coin[16]
  • Statement of the Finnish Copyright Council on using an image of the Finnish flag, about coins is summarized[17]
  • Statement of the Finnish Copyright Council on coats of arms of municipalities, where the applicability of article 9 of the copyright law is discussed[18]
  • Old law on money[19]

De minimis

See also: Commons:De minimis

Under the Copyright Act 404/1961, with amendments up to 608/2015,

  • Works of art made public may be reproduced in pictorial form in material connection with the text: 1) in a critical or scientific presentation; and 2) in a newspaper or a periodical when reporting on a current event, provided that the work has not been created in order to be reproduced in a newspaper or a periodical.[404/1961–2015 Sec.25(1)]
  • When a copy of a work of art has, with the consent of the author, been sold or otherwise permanently transferred, the work of art may be incorporated into a photograph, a film, or a television programme if the reproduction is of a subordinate nature in the photograph, film or programme.[404/1961–2015 Sec.25(2)]

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OK for buildings only {{FoP-Finland}}.  Not OK for other works of art, including sculptures (non-commercial only).

Under the Copyright Act 404/1961, with amendments up to 608/2015,

  • A work of art may be reproduced in pictorial form ... if the work is permanently placed at, or in the immediate vicinity of, a public place. If the work of art is the leading motive of the picture, the picture may not be used for the purpose of gain. A picture having a material connection to the text may, however, be included in a newspaper or a periodical.[404/1961–2015 Sec.25a(3)][20]
  • A building may be freely reproduced in pictorial form.[404/1961–2015 Sec.25a(4)]

Buildings (works of architecture) are the only copyrighted works in public space from Finland that can be hosted on Wikimedia Commons. Non-commercial licensing is not accepted on Commons as per Commons:Licensing (which is backed by the Definition of Free Cultural Works). Images of works of art permanently located in public places in Finland can only be used non-commercially or as illustrations to texts in newspapers and periodicals. Published works of art may also be used as illustrations to scientific texts or criticism, according to Article 25.


Åland has its own laws on postal matters; the discussion below does not concern stamps of Åland. See also: Commons:Stamps

Maybe copyrighted Stamps issued before 1990

Before 1990 stamps were issued by a public body whose decisions and statements are not protected by copyright. See #Not protected (above). If an image of a stamp was included in a public body's decision or statement and the stamp is not an independent work, the image would be free of copyright as part of the document, the document can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and the image can be cropped from this document. Use {{PD-FinlandStamp}} in these cases.

It is uncertain how the above affects the copyright of stamps depicted in other places. The precautionary principle is that we assume a stamp is copyrighted unless proven otherwise. A copyrighted stamp will lose copyright protection 70 years after the author's death or 70 years after publication if the author is anonymous. Information on the author of a stamp will often be available at Postimuseo's Postimerkkiselain, and should be included in the stamp description where available. Use {{PD-old-70}} or {{PD-anon-70}} in these cases.

Copyrighted Stamps issued from 1990

Posts and Telecommunications of Finland became a state-owned enterprise known as Posti-Tele in 1990. It is not clear whether this entity and its successors retained the status of public bodies. The precautionary principle is that we assume it did not, and any new stamps issued from 1990 onward remain copyrighted.

Threshold of originality

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

For works of visual art, the threshold of originality is relatively low.[21] Simple logos, however, are generally below the threshold of originality.[22] In particular, the threshold is high when only basic colors and shapes (such as triangles, squares and circles or capital letters) are used.[23][21]

Simple photograph with limited copyright period – not a photographic work of art. (TN 2003:6)
Differences compared to the coat of arms of the historic region did not meet threshold of originality. (TN 1998:5)
 Not OK Commons:Deletion_requests/Aalto_vases "The wave-like forms of the [original Aalto vases] do not... result from the intended use of the object but the creative mental effort of the author. [Therefore the original vases] are independent and original enough to be considered works of art as meant in 1 § of [the Finnish Copyright law]" (p. 4). (TN 2010:10)
OK A specific house type (Eurohouse S 2, court ruling)
The logo is below the threshold of originality because it is "ordinary and [does] not express an independent and original result of a creative process of its author. Somebody else in undertaking a comparable task could have contrived a similar ... logo". (TN 2000:1)
 Not OK Save the Children Fund logo The logo is above the threshold of originality, because its "visual manifestation is the creative work of its author, whereby the ideological basis of the fund has been successfully conformed with in an independent and original manner... [N]o one else undertaking a comparable task could have reached a similar outcome". (TN 2010:3)


The logos are "in their literary and visual manifestation simple and ordinary to the degree that they are not to be regarded as original works in their own regard." (TN 2009:2)
The logo is "is not original and independent in such a way that it would be protected ... by copyright". (TN 2011:7)
The logo is below the threshold of originality because "its central elements and the way in which they have been combined are commonly used in logos and are thus ordinary". (TN 2000:1)
 Not OK "Silmu" logo Although the logo consists of a "stylized, albeit fairly simple, red tulip", it is above the threshold of originality for works of visual art. (TN 2001:12)

See also


  1. a b Finland Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-11.
  2. Copyright Act (Act No. 404/1961 of July 8, 1961, as amended up to Act No. 972/2016 of November 18, 2016). Finland (2016). Retrieved on 2018-11-11.
  3. Copyright Act (404/1961, amendments up to 608/2015). Finnish Ministry of Justice. Retrieved on 2019-02-11.
  4. Tekijänoikeuslaki (Copyright Act) (in Finnish). Finlex (4 February 2019). Retrieved on 2019-02-11.
  5. Upphovsrättslag (Copyright Act (in Swedish). Finlex (4 February 2019). Retrieved on 2019-02-11.
  6. 2003:6 Onko kuva valokuva vai teos See partial English translation.
  7. “Tekijänoikeus lakeihin, asetuksiin ym. (9 §)”, in Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle laeiksi tekijänoikeuslain ja rikoslain 49 luvun muuttamisesta[1] (in fi), 2004, page 50–51
  8. 1997:11
  9. 1998:5
  10. TN 2017:15 Valokuvan valmistamisen ajankohta (in Finnish). Minedu. Retrieved on 2019-03-25.
  11. [ Raita database
  12. On copyright protection of the common face design of the euro coins (2001/C 318/03) (in Finnish)
  13. Bank of Finland 2015 guide how to use pictures of the notes
  14. Decision of the European central bank of 19 April 2013 on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal of euro banknotes (recast) (ECB/2013/10) (Finnish)
  15. Penal code Finnish / Swedish/English translation
  16. Statement 989:13 of the Finnish Copyright Council
  17. statement 2001:3 (pdf, Finnish), statement 1989:13
  18. 1997/tn9711 (Finnish)
  19. rahalaki/myntlagen
  20. Tekijänoikeuslaki 25 a § (14.10.2005/821) (in Finnish). finlex. Retrieved on 2019-05-25.
  21. a b TN 2011:7
  22. TN 2014:13
  23. TN 2001:12
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