Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Vatican City

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

General rules

The Holy See, as the member name of Vatican State, joined Berne Convention since 12 September 1935.[1] The current copyright law of the Vatican State entered into force on 1 October 2017. The website holds the text of the law in Italian.[2] Vatican law supplements the Italian Copyright Act (l. 633, 6 April 1941), which applies in the territory of the Holy See. The law provides for copyright 70 years after the death of the author, or 70 years after publication for works with no named author. Unlike many countries, the Vatican also claims copyright over its laws.

The main points of the Papal copyright:

  • Exclusive right on the use of the Pope’s image and voice for purposes other than religious, cultural and educational (art. 3)
  • Exclusive right on “purely documentary” reproductions of cultural heritage for 70 years from the fixation (art. 4)
  • The Holy See owns all copyrights in the works published under its name or created on its commission (art. 5).

The Vatican's publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, also claims perpetual copyright on the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.[3]

Freedom of panorama


See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK Under Law N. XII on Copyright of January 12, 1960, the Vatican decreed that unless church law says otherwise, the precepts of Italian copyright law apply in Vatican City. Italy does not allow for freedom of panorama. Thus, sculptures and other works, including buildings, are not ok until 70 years after the death of the architect or designer.

See also


Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution.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