Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Malaysia

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


The territory that is now Malaysia was formed from several Malay states that became subject to Britain as the Straits Settlements. Peninsular Malaya regained independence on 31 August 1957, and united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. Singapore left the federation in 1965.

Malaysia has been a member of the Berne Convention since 1 October 1990, the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995 and the WIPO Copyright Treaty since 27 December 2012.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Copyright Act 1987 (Act 332, as at 1 January 2006) as the main copyright law enacted by the legislature of Malaysia.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database.[2] This was amended by the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012. The 2012 act does not appear to affect the definitions of works or terms of protection.[3]

The 1987 Act did not revive expired copyrights: "... this Act shall apply in relation to works made before the commencement of this Act as it applies in relation to works made after the commencement of this Act: Provided that this section shall not be construed as reviving any copyrights which had expired before the commencement of this Act."[332/2006 Section 2(1)]

General rules

Under Copyright Act 1987 (Act 332, as at 1 January 2006),

  • Except as otherwise provided, copyright in a literary, musical or artistic work subsists during the life of the author and for 50 years after his death.[332/2006 Section 17(1)]
  • Where a literary, musical or artistic work had not been published before the death of the author, copyright subsists for 50 years from the year in which the work was first published.[332/2006 Section 17(2)]
  • Where a literary, musical or artistic work is published anonymously or under a pseudonym, copyright subsists for 50 years from the year in which the work was first published, made available to the public or made, whichever is the latest.[332/2006 Section 17(3)]
  • In this section, a reference to "author" shall, in the case of a work of joint authorship, be construed as a reference to the author who dies last.[332/2006 Section 17(4)]
  • Copyright subsists in a published edition for 50 years from the year in which the edition was first published.[332/2006 Section 18]
  • Copyright subsists in a sound recording for 50 years from the year in which the recording was first published or, if the sound recording has not been published, from the year of fixation.[332/2006 Section 19]
  • Copyright subsists in a broadcast for 50 years from the year in which the broadcast was first made.[332/2006 Section 20]
  • Copyright subsists in a film for 50 years from the year in which the film was first published.[332/2006 Section 22]
  • Copyright subsists in every work which is eligible for copyright and which is made by or under the direction or control of the Government and such Government organizations or international bodies as the Minister may by order prescribe.[332/2006 Section 11] Copyright in works of the Government, Government organizations and international bodies subsists for 50 years from the year in which the work was first published.[332/2006 Section 23]
  • Regardless of the above, the texts of laws, judicial opinions, and government reports are always free from copyright.[332/2006 Section 3 (definition of literary work)]

All 50-year durations are computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the work was first published or made. In other words, as of 2023, anonymous works published prior to 1 January 1973 are now in the public domain.

Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Currency

 Not OK According to the Bank Negara Malaysia, "You are not allowed to reproduce the Malaysian currency. It is also illegal for you to use any photograph, drawing or design of any note, coin or any part of the note or coin, of any size, scale or colour, in any advertising or on any merchandise or products, which are manufactured, sold, circulated or distributed except with the permission of BNM".[4]

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OK {{FoP-Malaysia}}

According to Malaysian Copyright Act 1987, the right of control is excluded from "the reproduction and distribution of copies of any artistic work permanently situated in a place where it can be viewed by the public".[332/2006 Section 13(2)(d)] Section 3 defines "artistic work" as any graphic work, photograph, sculpture, collage, and work of architecture or artistic craftsmanship. Layout-designs of integrated circuits are not artistic works.

For the meaning of the term works of artistic craftsmanship, see "United Kingdom – Freedom of panorama".


See also: Commons:Stamps

According to article 23 of The Copyright Act 1987 (act 332), works by the Government Organizations are subject to copyright until the beginning of the year following 50 years after publication, so only stamps more than 50 years old may be uploaded and they should use the template {{PD-Malaysia}}. This applies until 1992 when the Malaysian post office was corporatized as Pos Malaysia, so the normal artistic copyright term likely applies (life plus 50 years), unless as a corporate work the term of publish plus 50 years applies.

Threshold of originality

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

The threshold of originality situation in Malaysia remains  Unsure. Some previous discussions:

  1. The File:Hcc.png was deleted probably based on calligraphic Chinese words, and cited that COM:TOO UK may also applied for deletion;
  2. But the File:Petronas Logo.svg was nominated and decided to keep twice, despite that this may also beyond COM:TOO UK. Note that this logo is used before June 2013, and since that, the Petronas modified their logo to be more modern and fairly complex, the current Petronas logo is located at English Wikipedia for Fair use, though some users oppose that.

See also


  1. a b Malaysia Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-08.
  2. Copyright Act 1987 (Act 332, as at 1 January 2006). Malaysia (2006). Retrieved on 2018-11-08.
  3. Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012. Malaysia (2012). Retrieved on 2018-11-10.
  4. GENERAL INFORMATION: The Malaysian Currency 3. Bank Negara Malaysia. Retrieved on 2019-01-28.
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