Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Marshall Islands

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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

Governing laws

The Marshall Islands were claimed by Spain in 1592. Spain sold them to Germany in 1885, and they became part of German New Guinea. The islands were occupied by Japan during World War I, and made part of Japan's South Pacific Mandate in 1920. The islands were occupied by the United States in 1944 and formally made part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1979 they became fully independent in a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

The Marshall Islands is party to several treaties which contain minor clauses relating to intellectual property, although it appears that most of these relate to specific and minor issues not related to the types of works that Wikimedia Commons hosts. For example, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture states that "[recipients of seeds from foreign countries party to the treaty] shall not claim any intellectual property or other rights that limit the facilitated access to the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture".[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, did not list any IP laws enacted by the legislature of the Marshall Islands other than the Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991.[1] As of 2010 there was no IP/copyright legislation outside of that act.[2] The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute holds a copy of this act.[3]

General rules

The Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991 prohibits the unauthorized sale, copying/transfer for sale/profit, or commercial use (eg. public performance for profit) of sound & audio-visual recordings only. The Act does not apply if:[1991 §204]

  • the person who owns the master [disc/film/record/etc] is not a citizen of [the Marshall Islands;
  • the master sound recording or audio-visual work "was not created, originated, produced or otherwise recorded in the [Marshall Islands]";
  • the copied work is "intended for or in connection with a radio or television broadcast transmission that is available to the public without charge, or for historic, cultural or archival preservation or related purposes"; or
  • the work is copied solely for personal use "with no intent to capitalize commercially on such reproduction."

The four exemptions listed will not apply if they contradict the text of any international treaty (whether it specifically focuses on intellectual property or not) which is ratified by the Marshall Islands.

Lack of relevant treaties

Copyright notes

Copyright notes
Per U.S. Circ. 38a, the following countries are not participants in the Berne Convention or Universal Copyright Convention and there is no presidential proclamation restoring U.S. copyright protection to works of these countries on the basis of reciprocal treatment of the works of U.S. nationals or domiciliaries:
  • East Timor, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Marshall Islands, Palau, Somalia, Somaliland, and South Sudan.

As such, works published by citizens of these countries in these countries are usually not subject to copyright protection outside of these countries. Hence, such works may be in the public domain in most other countries worldwide.


  • Works published in these countries by citizens or permanent residents of other countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention or any other treaty on copyright will still be protected in their home country and internationally as well as locally by local copyright law (if it exists).
  • Similarly, works published outside of these countries within 30 days of publication within these countries will also usually be subject to protection in the foreign country of publication. When works are subject to copyright outside of these countries, the term of such copyright protection may exceed the term of copyright inside them.
  • Unpublished works from these countries may be fully copyrighted.
  • A work from one of these countries may become copyrighted in the United States under the URAA if the work's home country enters a copyright treaty or agreement with the United States and the work is still under copyright in its home country.

Marshall Islands has enacted Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991 which came into force on 30 September 1991, it grants some Marshallese works limited, internal, intellectual property rights over sound and audio-visual recordings only.

Freedom of panorama


See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OOjs UI icon check-constructive.svg OK on a high level, probably OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK if reproducted as audiovisual works [citation needed?]. The only "copyright protections" provided by the Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991 does not extend to any architectural or artistic works, or other type of permanently placed works, so any photograph reproductions of them are just considered acceptable, just use {{PD-Marshall Islands}} if and when appropriate.


  1. a b Marshall Islands Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights)[1], WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization, 2018
  3. Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991.
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