Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Soviet Union

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of the former Soviet Union relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in the former Soviet 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 former Soviet Union, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.


The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union, was a state that spanned large parts of eastern Europe and northern Asia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. It succeeded the Russian Empire, and comprised 15 nominally independent republics.

Before 1 June 1973 the general term of protection was for the lifetime of the author plus 15 years after death. The Soviet Union joined the Universal Copyright Convention on 27 May 1973, and the term of protection was retroactively extended to life plus 25 years. This remained in effect until the USSR was dissolved.[1]

Successor states

In 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved. 12 of the republics formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and are the legal successors of the USSR. These are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The three Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania took the position that they had been occupied countries rather than members of the USSR, and chose not to join the CIS.

Works published in the former USSR should be in the public domain under the laws of the successor country of origin and the United States if they are to be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

Note: There was a discussion whether pre-1973 works from the Soviet Union are copyright-free, originating in the period of uncertainty after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was concluded that this theory is incorrect; see discussions in Template talk:PD-Soviet.

Copyright tags



See also: Commons:Currency

OK Former USSR currency is not copyrighted.

Please use {{PD-RU-exempt}} for images of Soviet (USSR) currency.

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

Most of the successor nations of the Soviet Union have identical provisions on freedom of panorama and restrict it to non-commercial uses only. Refer to the pages describing the copyright rules for each member state for current rules.


See also: Commons:Stamps

Public domain use {{PD-RU-exempt|stamps}}

Since, according to intergovernmental and international treaties, Russian Federation is a legal successor to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the tag {{PD-RU-exempt}} (please see "Russia" above) also applies to images of postage stamps, stamped covers and stamped post cards (postal stationery) of the RSFSR and USSR.

See also


  1. TACIS Retroactivity Report (Russia). Russian-Ukrainian Legal Group (11 April 2001). Retrieved on 2019-02-10.
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