Commons:Threshold of originality

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The threshold of originality is a concept in copyright law that is used to assess whether or not a particular work, or a portion of it, can be copyrighted. It is used to distinguish works that are sufficiently original to warrant copyright protection from those that are not. In this context, "originality" refers to "coming from someone as the originator/author" (insofar as it somehow reflects the author's personality), rather than "never having occurred or existed before" (which would amount to the protection of something new, as in patent protection).

As a rule, copyright applies to a work as a whole. If a work contains a portion that is complex enough to receive copyright protection, then the whole work is considered to be copyrighted. One cannot upload said work to Commons by applying de minimis to the non-trivial portion.

The remainder of this page discusses images judged ineligible for copyright protection by a court or similar authority. It is usually impossible to determine whether a specific image is within the threshold of originality without a judicial decision. However, per precautionary principle, the image should be deleted if there is significant doubt that the image is not copyrighted.

For further information, see Threshold of originality on Wikipedia.

A descriptive infographic showing how the "Threshold of originality" varies by region.


[This illustration is not explained enough. You may edit the page to make it clearer.]

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COM:TOO United States

These images are OK to upload to Commons, because they are below the threshold of originality required for copyright protection.

Despite repeated requests, the US Copyright Office found the Vodafone speechmark (shaded version) ineligible for copyright protection. It cannot, however, be uploaded to Commons because it's a UK logo.

These are  Not OK to upload to Commons (unless published under a free license by the copyright holder), because they are above the threshold of originality required for copyright protection.


 Not OK for most paintings.

Even seemingly simple paintings consisting of geometric shapes are often copyrighted due to details that may not be immediately obvious to the viewer.

  • Photographic reproductions of paintings by Mark Rothko have been granted registration by the US Copyright Office, so it is reasonable to assume that the original works are also copyrighted.

Although the threshold of originality for non-graphic works (such as architecture and sound recordings) follow the same standards, such cases can be difficult to determine.

  • The five-note melody that typically accompanies Intel's logo was granted copyright protection because it "combined and blended synthesized, digital sounds" and was "refined and mastered with a special spatial enhancer." [3]
  • Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate is a relatively simple 3D sculpture that was deemed eligible for copyright (VA0001983425)
  • The replica of public domain object Statue of Liberty in New York-New York Hotel and Casino is deemed eligible for copyright, also the United States Postal Service is being sued for copyright infringement for famously (and mistakenly) using this statue instead of the real Statue of Liberty on its Forever stamps. (VAu001149387 and VA0001882070) also see (DR1) (DR2)

Civil law countries

Civil law countries usually require a relatively high minimum level of intellectual creativity which will exclude typical signatures and simple logos from copyright protection. However, this does not apply to all such countries. For example, Austria and China are both known to have a relatively low threshold of originality, while a few simple logos from the Philippines gained copyright registrations from the country's Intellectual Property Office.

If you are aware of specific case law or legal advice on this issue in any country, please add a "Threshold of originality" section to the appropriate Commons:Copyright rules by territory country subpage, and add a link to it with an entry below.

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According to the 2008 Copyright Law, work that may be protected includes: Photography work that has been created using an innovative mode; Innovative work of handicraft or industrial art (carpet designs, rugs, felt carpet and its attachments etc.); Innovative work which has been created based on the public culture (folklore) or national cultural heritage and art.[2008 Article 6(1) items 7-9]

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Austria has a low threshold of originality despite being a civil law country. See the archived discussion on the German Wikipedia.

These logos are  Not OK:

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There are some court cases related to threshold of originality in Brazil. According to one study, and the court decisions contained in it, the concept of creativity in Brazil is way more strict and exigent than in the United States, and consequently the threshold of originality is considerably higher than the United States, which is the general reference in Commons.[8]


  • OK. In the case of Boneco de Preço Miúdo (2011), puppets that were a tridimensional and humanized version of a logo were deemed by the court to lack enough originality to be protected. The court considered that there was no originality or unpublished work in the puppets because they represented an already existing symbol (the supermarket's logo), and that there were already previous 3D and humanized versions of that logo. The court did not grant any value nor legal protection to the specific 3D and humanized version of the logo in question, and called it something like a "stylization subordinate to a previous idea".[9]
  • OK. Copyright for compilations/ reorganizations of already existing elements has often been rejected on court, hinting that the threshold for what constitutes an "intellectual creation" in this respect is quite high in Brazil.[10]
  • OK. Slogans are generally acceptable. In rare occasions they may be protected, when there is such a level of creativity as to attain the level of a literary work. For example, in the Guerra das Moedas court case (2013), copyright in the expression was not recognized by the court. The verdict stated that the language is the cultural patrimony of the people, so language expressions can't be protected by law. The Rede Globo vs. Ronaldo Ciambroni case was similar.[11][12]

Some examples help define which photos are, and are not, "artistic creations", and therefore object of protection under the 1973 copyright law:

  • OK. The facade of the Jung Frau building, in Joinville, as well as partial views of the city, when photographed in an obvious simple way, without employment of any special ("diferenciada") technique". The court ruled: "photographs are not considered artistic creations ... that portray in a manifestly simple way, without use of any differentiated technique, the front of a residential building and a partial view of the city, under a service contract with a real estate business with a predefined advertising purpose"[13]
  • OK. Simple documentary, descriptive photographs in general, such as photographs documenting social reunions: In SC-AC 111630 SC 2002.011163-0 (2006): "mere photographic documentation, without artistic character, does not qualify for copyright ... making it possible to use a copy without mention of the photographer's name, since, according to Brazilian law, only artistic photography (by choice of the object and conditions of execution) is listed among protected works. ... [for example] with documentary photographs of social gatherings, where the author was performing duties for the defendant, a reference to the photographer's name is not required because it is not an artistic work..."[14]
  • OK. A 2000 ruling stated: "Photographs for identity documents, produced by automatic machines, are not artistic works. ... Neither should purely technical photographs, which reproduce a certain object without the slightest artistic concern, be protected by copyright."[15]
  •  Not OK Another 2000 decision stated: "the photos [...] have an artistic character characterized by the originality, creativity and technique of its author, elements that reveal ... a work of art. They are not, as the appellant claims, mere reproductions of images for advertising purposes, or common snapshots."[16]

Puppets who were a tridimensional and humanized version of this logo were deemed in court to lack enough originality to be protected.

The work must be "a unique outcome of the creative activity of the author".[121/2000–2006 Art.2(1)]

For photographs and computer programs, it suffices if the work "is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation".[121/2000–2006 Art.2(2)]

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Registration in the Intellectual Property Registry generates a "presumption" of copyright in favor of the registrant. Any work may be registered for "presumed" copyright, but Law No. 17.336 clearly states the "presumed" copyright may be contested. That is because, as established in "Astorga Sánchez José / Inversiones C. S. A.", C-2470-2009, 17.° Juzgado Civil de Santiago (28 October 2011), the Intellectual Property Conservator (Conservador) only makes the deposit of the documents into the registry, does not make an examination of their originality, or to determine whether the deposited documents are works or not, and so certificates of intellectual property generated by the Intellectual Property Registry do not establish that a work is new, original or viceversa. The Conservator of Intellectual Property expressed in 2011 it is up to the judicial system "to carry out an originality test to define whether the creation is indeed a particular manifestation of human ingenuity that can be classified as original compared to other equivalent creations, analyzed from a subjective perspective, that is, that the imprint or trace of the author can be perceived, that allows it to stand out from others". Such pronouncement was adhered to by the 17th civil judge of Santiago.[17]

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China has a relatively low threshold of originality standard; basic designs may be copyrightable. One of the most noticeable cases is the logo of a company named Gang Heng (listed below) ruled by China's supreme court as copyrighted (see below).

The following examples are OK:

  • "Matchstick man" (image) with a black sphere as a head, black lines as torso, limbs and feet is not copyrightable for lacking originality, ruled Higher People's Court of Beijing Municipality (source).
  • Five SKECHERS logos (image) are not copyrightable for lacking originality, ruled Higher People's Court of Beijing Municipality in 2020 (final judgement and related news coverage).
  • "BIOU" logo (image), with letter "b" and "o", and a small barcode in the upper right corner, is not copyrightable for lacking originality, ruled Higher People's Court of Beijing Municipality in 2018 (final judgement and related articles [3] [4]). Note that the logo was initially ruled as copyrightable by the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board and a lower court.
  • "KON" logo (see below), with three black bars crossed together, is not copyrightable for lacking originality, ruled Beijing Dongcheng District People's Court in 2019 (final judgement and news coverage).
  • "Chao Qun" logo (see below), is not copyrightable for lacking originality, ruled China's Supreme People's Court in 2012 (original judgment by the Court). The court asserted that the expression does not show the existence of a unique style; there are only subtle differences when compared to the common Seal script and Clerical script, the "Chao Qun" logo does not reach a certain creative height, and does not have originality.

The following examples are  Not OK:

are copyrighted (Copyright Law of the PR China: "Article 2 Works of Chinese citizens, legal entities or other organizations, whether published or not, shall enjoy copyright in accordance with this Law." ; "Article 3 'Works' mentioned in this Law shall include [...] in the following forms: (4) works of fine art and architecture" ; Regulations for the Implementation: "Article 4 (8) 'works of fine arts' means [...] such as paintings, works of calligraphy and sculptures;")
  • Handwriting: a hand-written manuscript was deemed copyrightable as work of art, according to a decision made by Nanjing Intermediate People's Court in 2017 (sources: [5] [6], Final judgement).
  • "LY" company logo (alternative link; archived from the original), although arguably relatively simple, has been ruled copyrightable by Trademark Appeal Board of the State Administration of Industry & Commerce, Beijing Intellectual Property Court, and Higher People's Court of Beijing Municipality.
  • Typefaces of characters "笑", "喜", and "城市宝贝" in these two logos are copyrightable, ruled Nanjing Intermediate People's Court in 2012. However the character "巴" in the same logo was decided not copyrightable for lacking originality in the same decision. (source, court decision full text: Final judgement)
  • Gang Heng logo: China's Supreme People's Court ruled this logo to be protected by copyright in 2014 (original judgment by the Court; related news coverage).
  • Dyneema logo (in this article): China's Supreme People's Court ruled this logo to be protected by copyright in 2017 (original judgment by the Court).
  • K2 Sports logo as shown in the image below is eligible for copyright protection, determined during trademark adjudication proceedings in 2010 (source).
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Status Example Notes
Three fonts not eligible for copyright protection (Supreme Court 30 June 2006, U2006.2697H). Two other fonts were found eligible for copyright.
Sketches of windows and doors not eligible for copyright protection (The Maritime and Commercial Court 8 August 2003.)[18][19]
The WWF panda logo is not protected by copyright[20]
 Not OK
The GLOBAL knife design is copyright protected in Denmark.[21]
 Not OK
A specific chair design (Tripp Trapp).[22]
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For works of visual art, the threshold of originality is relatively low.[23]

Simple logos, however, are generally below the threshold of originality.[24] In particular, the threshold is high when only basic colors and shapes (such as triangles, squares and circles or capital letters) are used.[25][23]

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)
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French law asserts that a work is copyrightable when it bears the "imprint of the personality of the author". In practice, it depends on the work in question, but this has left the bar quite low for many works where an artistic intent can be shown. For an art exhibition, a man placed the word paradis with gold lettering above the bathroom door of the old dormitory of alcoholics at a psychiatric facility, and termed it artwork; the French courts agreed with him that it was copyrightable based on the aesthetic choices made ("affixing the word 'paradise' in gold with patina effect and a special graphics on dilapidated door, the lock-shaped cross, encased in a crumbling wall with peeling paint").[26]

France has "a slightly higher threshold of originality in general, and particularly so in the context of photographic works".[27]

A decision from Supreme court (Cour de Cassation) on October 2011 agreed with appeal court decision saying that a quite artistic picture of two fish on a yellow plate about a traditional Marseille meal could not be protected by French law because of lack of originality.[28] According to this decision, level of originality required by this appeal court is very high. This decision was criticized but French supreme court does not control facts but only controls interpretation of the law. In 2017, copyright protection on this image of Jimi Hendrix was restored after a court initially denied protection.

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Works of fine art (including works of applied art and architectural works)

"Works of fine art", as defined in § 2(1)(4) of the 1965 Act on Copyright and Related Rights (Gesetz über Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte) (UrhG), is a catch-all term for works of fine art in a stricter sense, works of applied art, and architectural works. Fine art is distinguished from applied art by its lack of a utilitarian purpose.[29] For many decades, courts imposed a higher threshold of originality on works of applied art than on works of fine art ("two-tier theory").[30] In 2013, however, the Federal Court of Justice expressly changed its jurisprudence, holding that "in general, the copyright protection of works of applied art is not subject to other requirements than the copyright protection of works of non-utilitarian fine art or of literary or musical creation. It is hence sufficient that they attain a level of creativity that allows a public open to art and relatively familiar with views on art to justifiably speak of 'artistic' creations".[31]

In assessing whether an article with a utilitarian purpose is protected by copyright, one must take into account, however, that the aesthetic effect of the article can only provide a basis for copyright protection to the extent that it is not dictated by the article's utilitarian purpose, but instead is based on an artistic effort.[32] Only those features of a utilitarian article that are not entirely dictated by the technical function can justify copyright protection.[33] A feature is considered "dictated by the technical function" if the article could not function without it.[34] This includes features that, for technical reasons, must necessarily be used in articles of the same kind as the article concerned, as well as features that, while being used for technical reasons, are freely selectable or interchangeable. To the extent that the design of such features is entirely dictated by their technical function, they are incapable of justifying copyright protection of the utilitarian article.[35]

Examples from court cases on applied art:[36]

Protection denied:

  • a climbing structure for playgrounds made of ropes (pictured in the decision, p 3 bottom) because the structure consists of freely selectable or interchangeable yet technically required features and does not exhibit artistic creativity;[37]
  • a wooden toy train ("birthday train") with wagons in which candles and numbers can be inserted (pictured in the decision, p 3) because there were similar-looking, pre-existing toy trains.[38]
  • a logo (pictured here in black and white) consisting of the text "Match by Audiotec Fischer" and the commonly used "fast-forward" symbol because neither the design of the text nor the design of the symbol ("widely used in the audio world") nor the combination of the two could be considered an artistic creation.[39]

Protection accorded:

  • a logo consisting of a mouth, eyes, and wave lines ("eyebrows") (pictured in the decision, p 3) (in the case at issue, the design was painted on the exterior of a ship and therefore could be reproduced under the freedom of panorama limitation);[40]
  • a toy train comprised of wooden animal figurines on wheels ("birthday caravan") (pictured in the decision, p 3) because it was a complete redesign of pre-existing toy trains, whose locomotive and waggons were replaced with animals, and the overall design (shapes, colours) was not the result of technical necessities but an expression of the author's artistic creativity;[41]
  • an urn emblazoned with an airbrushed depiction of a deer (pictured in the decision, on the left);[42]
  • a Birkenstock sandal (model "Madrid");[43]
  • a Porsche 356 sports car (pictured in the decision, 3rd and 4th image from the top);[44]
  • a patio heater with a triangular base (pictured in the decision, first image).[45]

In the past decades, court cases where protection as applied art was eventually accorded primarily revolved around renowned designer objects, in particular items of furniture and lamps.[46] A few more recent examples:

  • chairs and tables based on drafts by the designers Marcel Breuer ("Wassily" chair, "Laccio" table) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ("Barcelona" chair, stool, couch, and table; "Brno" chair; "Prag" chair);[47]
  • the "Wilhelm Wagenfeld table lamp";[48]
  • a brilliant-cut diamond ring ("Niessing-Spannring").[49]
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The term “work” is defined as including any original intellectual creation expressed in any form, including alterations of other works as well as collections of works, provided that the selection or the arrangement of such collections is original.[50]

Originality is understood by Greek jurisprudence as a notion of “statistical uniqueness”, which means that the work involves skill, labor and judgment emanating from the author and that no other person, acting under the same circumstances, could produce the exact same work.[51]

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  • stylized text with a common stylized globe icon (does not show the actual image).[52]

 Not OK

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Indonesia's threshold of originality is reportedly low, being based on common law ("Anglo-American model") principles, with "wallpaper, wrappers, packaging designs and technical drawings" being registered by copyright authorities.[54]

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 Not OK for most logos. The level of originality required for copyright protection in Iran seems very low.

The following are registrable for copyright protection: "(...) pictures, drawings, designs, decorative writings, (...) or any decorative and imaginative work produced in any simple or complex manner "

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Hogan Lovells states "In summary, the threshold for an industrial design product to enjoy copyright protection is still quite high and even famous industrial design products have been denied such protection by Italian Courts."[55]

Probably this applies to logos too. These files have been kept as simple logos:

But the logo of AC Parma was deleted as being a complex logo.[56] Another Parma logo has been deleted but then restored.

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Logos in the gallery below are OK to upload.

Article 2 of Japanese copyright law defines that a work is eligible for copyright when it is a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way and which falls within the literary, scientific, artistic or musical domain.[57]

Japanese courts have decided that to be copyrightable, a text logo needs to have artistic appearance that is worth artistic appreciation. Logos composed merely of geometric shapes and texts are also not copyrightable in general.

Asahi Breweries "Asahi" logo (DR) Tokyo High Court's ruling: letters are a means of communication, shared by all. Copyright protection of fonts is limited only to those that raise artistic appreciation as much as artistic works do.[58]
Cup Noodles (DR) Tokyo High Court's ruling: although the shape is stylized, the text is in a normal arrangement and keeps its function of being read as a sequence of letters.[59]
Olympic flag Tokyo District Court's ruling: the Court is negative towards recognizing the symbol as a copyrightable work of fine arts, because it is considered merely relatively simple graphic elements.[60]
  • Furby toy: utilitarian, so not protected by copyright as an artistic work. Not utilitarian in the United States, so photos of the toy can't be uploaded to Commons.[61]
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For photographic and cinematic works which are limited to the mere mechanical transmission of scenery, rights expire 5 years from the date of first publication.[9/1968 Article 20]

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According to Jean-Luc Putz, the threshold of originality in Luxembourg is not as strict as in UK but not as liberal as in Germany. During the legislation the intent was to orientate with other Benelux states or France.[62]

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As indicated above, the following are examples of what is and what is not protected under the 1996 copyright law:

These images are OK to upload to Commons
These are  Not OK to upload to Commons (unless published under a free license by the copyright holder), because they are above the threshold of originality required for copyright protection and are not covered by the law itself.
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Simple logos are okay in the Netherlands but not all logos are. Whether something is above the threshold of originality in the Netherlands is defined in the Supreme Court judgment "'Van Dale/Romme'". In this judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that:[63]

  • In assessing the ground of cassation it should be noted that, for a product to be considered a work of literature, science or art as meant in article 1 in conjunction with article 10 of the Copyright law (Auteurswet), it is required that it has an own, original character and bears the personal mark of the maker.

This was further specified in the Supreme Court judgment ''Endstra-tapes':[64]

  • The product has to bear an own, original character. In short, this means the shape may not be based on that of another work. (cf. article 13 Aw.) The demand that the product has to bear the personal mark of the maker means that there has to be a shape that is the result of creative human labor and thus creative choices, which therefore is a product of the human mind. In any case, excluded from this is everything that has a shape that is so trivial or banal, that one cannot show any creative labor behind it of any kind whatsoever.

Later the Supreme Court determined in judgment on Stokke v. Fikszo that:[65]

  • For a work to be eligible for copyright, it is necessary that the work has an own original character and bears the personal mark of the maker ... The Court of Justice of the European Union has has formulated the benchmark in such a way that it must concern "an intellectual creation of the author of the work".
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Not protected

Two-minute theatre play.[66]

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Indecopi established parameters to qualify the originality of graphic and photographic compositions. Because of the higher originality threshold (independent of its endeavour, novelty, inspiration and technique, the requirement is to leave some space for the development of its author's personality, not a copy or imitation, referred as "originalidad subjetiva"),[68] simple designs, non-production videographic creations and old photographs without demonstrating their individuality can be uploaded to Commons. See also Andean Community: Threshold of originality.

Simple photographs

Old published photographs have a copyright term of 20 years counted from the first of January of the year following that of the disclosing of the photograph before 1976. The notes shown are based on the rescinded 1961 law:

  • For old pictures taken prior to 31 December 1975 and which were not published within an author's own work  fail to meet the general definition of a "work" under 1961 law (and Article 3.4 of Universal Copyright Convention: "The provisions […] not apply to photographic works […] shall not be less than ten years").[69] The duration of the photograph was for 20 years after performed its first copy, without the author presenting this in a literary, scientific or documentary work, from January 1 of the following year.[13714/1961 Art. 27] They were not renewed during the URAA date.[13714/1961 Art. 27 and 57] Use {{PD-Peru-photo}}.
  • The duration is reduced if the following occurs: when the author did not place the name of the label with the message "Reproduction prohibited" or that the author published in a work without a full name or under an unknown pseudonym.[13714/1961 Art. 58] The duration of anonymous works prior to 31 December 1980 was 15 years after publication and expired on 1 January 1996. They were not renewed during the URAA date. Use {{PD-Peru-anonymous}}.
  • If they were used in literary or scientific works, they were documentary works or are reproductions of artistic material "of private domain", and the author died before 1946 (of before 1966 if someone had no family heirs), the law considers the photographs as the author's work (life + 30/50 years).[69] In the case of collective works, the date is considered to be the last survivor. If they died after 1947, they are protected by the current law. Use {{PD-Peru-1961law}}.

Recent published photographs below threshold have a copyright term of 70 years counted from the first of January of the year following that of the taking of the photograph. Fortunately, this term usually flexible in the cases and facts shown below:

  • The general definition of a "work" in the 1996 law is "any personal and original intellectual creation capable of being disclosed or reproduced in any form that is or may yet become known".[822/1996 Art.2(17)] Simple photographs taken or disclosed since 1976 are those which  fail to meet the general definition of a "work" and only receive neighbouring rights,[822/1996 Art.144] but works above this threshold will receive standard protection (life + 70 years, see below).
  • The Court of Indecopi believes that originality in a photograph should be limited to the originality of any work, requirements to protect against plagiarism. According to article 3.c of the Regulation of Inscriptions in the Registry National Copyright Act, provides that "no may be subject to registration the photographs that are limited to simple reproductions of people, of things, or of objects already existing or showing a mere documentary character [...] photography to be a work can not constitute only a simple reproduction of already existing objects".[70]
  • Derecho PUCP journal explains examples of highly distinguishable events that surpass the threshold of originality: creative use of lights, unique moment, transmission of a message in their work and the photographer's personality. Below these and other criteria, simple photographs are legislated under Legislative Decree 1044 on unfair competition.[71]

Examples for photographs under 1961 law:

Examples for photographs under 1996 law:

  • In 2002 the Court considered two images of household appliances as below of threshold of originality due to the lack of creative evidence, despite they are in a catalog with individuality. See Resolution No 354-2002/TPI-INDECOPI.[72]
  • Also, in 2002 the Court ruled that a magazine photograph of Skándalo boy band in ordinary dress and solid-colored background receives related rights-only because it lacks individuality. See Resolution No 378-2002/TPI-INDECOPI, Alomi Producciones S.A.C. v Karinto S.A p.13.[70]
  • In 2007 the Court justified a photograph of gift box for a web catalog as original work because of its shade selection and during the editing process it carried meticulous details, specifically the colored shade artificially created. See Resolution No 1263-2007/TPI-INDECOPI, Enrique Capella v Grupo Americano de Comercio S.A.C. and Citybank del Perú S.A p.4.[73]
  • In 2008 the court determined that press snapshots of sporting, political or weather events lack originality for lack of prior preparation in their production. See Resolution No 2521-2008/TPI-Indecopi, Agencia Efe S.A. v Las Rosas Editorial S.A.C.
  • In 2012 the Court concluded that non-artistic techniques of photographs are not protectable (for example, scanning). See Resolution No 059-2012/TPI-Indecopi and Indecopi (2015), p.75.[74]
  • In 2013 Indecopi deduced that a promotional photograph of a model wearing clothes of a textile company does bear originality due to the framing, focus and composition to highlight her outfit. See Resolution No 0384-2013/CDA-INDECOPI, Peruvian Connection Ltd. v SENATI p. 9 and 10.[75]
  • In 2021 the criteria for originality of photographs were simplified to three points: transmittable, framed and lighting that shows their personality. Between pages 77 and 82 of this resolution the court evident that press photographs from Hildebrandt en sus trece magazine do carry originality because they focus on the gestures of the photographed and the depth of the camera. See Resolution No 0096-2021/TPI-INDECOPI, Plutón Editores S.A.C. v DP Comunicaciones S.A.C..
Videographic process

There is threshold of originality for audiovisual creations but their protection is similar for both works and recordings (publish/create + 70 years). While cinematographic works ("obra audiovisual") are protected in their entirety, the related rights can only be granted to the producer of non-artistic filming ("grabación audiovisual"),[822/1996 Art. 140] which also include performance and broadcasting.[822/1996 Art. 143] Resolution 000111-1999-ODA-INDECOPI establishes differences between the two terms, in particular, and in a similar way to simple photographs, the fixation of the succession of images. But, Resolution 371-2001/TPI-INDECOPI establishes that the main requirement to receive related rights from the producer of non-artistic filming consists of: "present in their creation process a certain degree of creativity, technical or organizational skill sufficient to justify the recognition of a similar right in their favor" (p.e. Pay-per-View events).

Theoretically, a security camera captures in a public place could  lack of their producer (as a public asset is mainly assumed to Peruvian State) to be in the public domain. Security camera footage from Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Ciudadana is provided anonymously to the Peruvian National Police or Public Prosecutor's Office like state cameras in public areas, there is no knowed evidence from the original producer of the material.[N° 007-2020-IN Art. 18] Opinión Consultiva 60-2019-JUS/DGTAIPD indicates that footage records are disclosure if these are for public interest and share in open data process (see also Works by the Peruvian Government ),[N° 007-2020-IN Art.22] the places filmed correspond to "places of public domain",[N° 007-2020-IN Art. 7] human monitoring exists but does not interfere with the surveillance camera's technical or creative ability for recording.[N° 007-2020-IN Art. 2] Also it isn't artistic work since its custody cannot be altered from the original,[N° 007-2020-IN Art. 19] as a result, the footage is below the threshold of originality and don't comply with related rights of article 143 of the 1996 law.[76][77] Moral rights prevail of the person involved in this media. For these footage in official works, use {{PD-PE-exempt}}.

Logos, designs and other works

Simple or ordinary logos and designs are OK to upload to Commons, because they are below the threshold of originality required for copyright protection. In words of Indecopi and Ministry of Justice and quoting Resolutions No. 1349-2001/TPI-INDECOPI (first paragraph) and 0286-1998/TPI-INDECOPI (second paragraph):

According to Article 3 of Decision 351 [of the Andean Decision], in accordance with Article 2 of Legislative Decree No. 822, a work is understood to be any original intellectual creation of an artistic, scientific or literary nature, susceptible of being disclosed or reproduced in any form.[...] Whatever already part of the cultural heritage -artistic, scientific or literary- will not be considered [original creation], nor will [original] the form of expression that derives from the nature of things or from mechanical-only application of the provisions of certain legal norms, nor will [original] the form of expression that is reduced to a simple technique or simple instructions that only require manual skill for this execution.

—Indecopi, La originalidad como requisito de protección por derechos de autor ("requisito de la originalidad"), Precedentes y normativa del Indecopi en Propiedad Intelectual (2015)[74]

In 18th paragraph in Casación Número: 1686-2011 explains the use of originality with architectural works satisfying utilitarian functions:

The originality of the architectural work [...] must be sought essentially in the creative features that are most distinguishable from the purposes of the model, its nature, its geographic and landscape context, and the functional requirements of the costumer, as well as the technical and urban planning standards applicable to the case; and respond rather, in a particular way or as totality, to the individuality or artistic personality of the author. [An] architectural model [...] must be subjected to analysis for the purpose of identifying whether they respond only to elements of functionality or natural characteristics of the species to which they belong or, on the contrary, contain features that correspond to the whim or personality that the author has wanted to attribute to them, beyond their functionality or technical rigor, resulting in giving individuality to the work, in relation to the rest of the constructions of its species.

Note: Some creations are above the threshold of originality and  are not valid for upload to Commons:

  • Logo of Tres Olivas: a leaf with three olives with tonalities, use of brightness and sensation of movement. See Resolution No 1774-2012/TPI-INDECOPI, Olivos del Sur S.A.C. vs Antonio Moncayo Cortés.[81]
  • Emblema La Primera. See Resolution No 2361-2016/TPI-INDECOPI.
  • A fictional character in Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite. See Resolution No 1164-2014/TPI-INDECOPI.
  • A logo with a people with torch to the letter E, above the letter T. Triunfo Empresarial. See Resolution No 0319-2018/TPI-INDECOPI.
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COM:TOO Philippines


The concept of threshold of originality probably does not exist in the Philippines. It is possible that the sweat of the brow concept applies. In this concept, "a work can be eligible for copyright protection if there is a substantial amount of labor, effort, or investment involved, even if it lacks a significant level of creativity. This standard places emphasis on the effort put into creating the work rather than the level of originality or creativity." (Reference: Commons:Village pump/Copyright/Archive/2023/07#Probable low Philippines TOO)

For this reason, some logos that may be simple for the American jurisprudence may be eligible for copyright in the Philippines. Two examples are logos of Photo Sikwate (2022-00957-G) and of Geomax Solutions and Innovations (2022-01698-G), both of which were afforded copyright registration as proven by the 2022 copyright registry of Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

However, in the midst of controversy surrounding the most popular noontime variety show of the Philippines in mid-2023 (refer to w:en:Eat Bulaga!#Copyright infringement case for the background information), Atty. Maggie Garduque who represents the show's producer (TAPE, Inc.) claims the design of the logo of the show "is a trademark and not subject of copyright."[82]

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COM:TOO Poland


Per Tomasz Targosz (Institute of Intellectual Property Law, Jagiellonian University Kraków):

Polish copyright law has quite a long tradition of setting the threshold rather low, which may encourage frivolous lawsuits forcing courts to ponder whether simple graphic designs, short lines of text or even names should or should not be protected by copyright law.


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COM:TOO Portugal


w:File:Juventude Socialista Portugal.png was deleted as it was considered to be above the threshold of originality.


In Portugal photographs have been consistently specifically required to have a significant degree of creativity in order to be copyrighted. Article §164 of the current 2017 copyright law states that "the choice of a photograph's subject and the conditions of its creation must be deemed to be a personal artistic creation by the author before a photograph may qualify for protection".

Court cases
  • Landscape photograph: Ruled as without originality. In 2009 the Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa ruled as void of copyright for lack of artistic creativity a landscape photograph the author was claiming copyright on due to his choice of the setting, light and other conditions. It was considered by the court "a vulgar photograph resultant from the mere choice of an object, such as a city council building and part of a group of trees, without a minimum of creativity".[84] The subject is discussed in a 2017 article published by the Instituto Portugues de Fotografia.[85]
  • Heart reproduction commissioned to a laboratory in order to be presented in an exposition: Ruled as without originality.[84]
  • Clothing/Fashion: Ruled as without originality.[86]
  • Puppets wearing Madeira national costumes (generally tourist souvenirs) following old and common models were considered without copyright.[87]
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COM:TOO Russia


Automatic camera works

Public domain use {{PD-RU-exempt-autocam}}

OK A photowork or a videowork made by automatic camera (Russian: автоматическая камера, not to be confused with automated camera: автоматизированная камера) is not the subject of copyright, because such work is made by technical tool without creative human activity. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Part 80 of Session Resolution No. 10 of April 23, 2019 on Application of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation


  • Any photowork or videowork made by automatic camera for administrative violation record (for example, by automatic camera for driving offense record[88]). The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Part 80 of Session Resolution No. 10 of April 23, 2019 on Application of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation
Simple creative works

 Not OK Simple result of creative work (creative human activity) is copyrightable. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Part 80 of Session Resolution No. 10 of April 23, 2019 on Application of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation


  • Simple black square as geometric shape is uncopyrightable as itself. However Black Square by Kazimir Malevich was copyrightable because this painting was the result of creative work in recognized art style - suprematism, and it is in Public Domain because of copyright term expiry, not because of result simplicity.

 In doubt There is no clear precedent in Russian courts for the threshold of originality for simple logos.

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COM:TOO Senegal


Works of the mind may enjoy protection only if they are original. "Originality" means the work bears the stamp of the author's personality.[2008-09 Article 7]

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COM:TOO Slovenia


The threshold of originality in Slovenia depends on the field of creativity. If the maneuvering space of the possible creativity is narrower, it requires more creativity for a work to be copyrighted.[89]

In this regard, the following court cases are relevant:

Applied arts:

  • VSL0069492 - the design of a couch set has been found to be below the threshold.
  • VS0011606 – the design of a sales stand has been found to be above the threshold.


  • VSL00432 – only the works that constitute an original artwork are copyrighted; the renovation plan of Ljubljana Castle as well as the newly built and (at least some of) the renovated parts of the castle count as such.


  • VSL00013281 – the logo with inscription "I Feel Slovenia" [7] was found to constitute a copyrighted work.
The court opined: "The slogan and the logo, which contains both verbal and graphic elements, do not allow them to be separated. Only the synergy of the verbal and graphic elements allows the observer to identify the overall message of the author's work."


  • VS07924 – the title "Brez zavor" (meaning "Without inhibitions") has been found to be below the threshold.
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COM:TOO South Korea

South Korea

According to a machine translation of the Copyright Act as amended up to Act No. 14634 of March 21, 2017,

  • "Work" refers to a creation that expresses human thoughts or feelings.[432/1957–2017 Article 2.2]

The Supreme Court of South Korea declared that it is sufficient to be work if:[90]

  • it is not just an imitation,
  • it has own characteristics as a product of mental efforts, and
  • it can be distinguished from existing ones.

Seoul High Court judged the seagull pattern and the figure of Ebisu of EVISU Japan is not copyrighted because they cannot be recognized for originality.[91] Also, The Supreme Court of South Korea has ruled that typefaces are not copyrighted. (See also Commons:Copyright rules by territory/South Korea § Signatures)

However, the Supreme Court of South Korea judged the logo of Fox Racing is copyrighted.[92]

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STS 4443/2004 notes that a work must have the characteristics of "uniqueness, individuality and distinguishability" to qualify for protection.[93]

STS 1644/2017 concerns architecture and states "The terms in which an architectural project is drawn up largely respond to the technical or functional requirements and compliance with urban regulations. When this is the case, the project or the architectural buildings are not protected by copyright in the part imposed by those technical, functional or normative requirements"; and more generally, "the factor of recognizability or differentiation of the work with respect to the pre-existing ones [is] essential to grant an exclusive right with moral and patrimonial aspects".[94]

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COM:TOO Sweden


"A simple general rule is that if it is unlikely that two persons would create, for example, a text identically or similarly, the text is probably sufficiently original to qualify as a protected work. (..) Often, the requirements for copyright protection are considered to be relatively low."[95] From the court cases below it can be concluded that the threshold of originality in Sweden is significantly higher then the ditto in the United Kingdom even though it might be considered low compared to the one in the United States.

Status Example Notes
The text itself can't be considered to fulfill the general threshold of originality considered for copyright protection. This same interpretation is made whether one sees it as Roman numerals or Latin letters. The logo itself does have some figurative design. The font must however, despite some inconsistancies along the edges, be considered as ordinary and the black rectangle in the background does not contribute to any distinctive character. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende nr 2017/00120/01, Registrering nr 540495
The logo consists of an a and a 6. The round part of each character is not closed, however the characters are, besides that, made in a fairly ordinary font without any distinctive character. Between the characters is a simple, sun-feather resembelling, figure with a pointy tip which goes down between the characters. Above this figure there are four points, two to the left and two to the right. The logo is way to simple to be granted such copyright protection which can constitute an impediment for others' trademark registration. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende nr 2005/0006/0001, Registrering nr 369154.

This ruling was appealed to Patentbesvärsrätten (Patent court of appeals) which settled the original ruling (Mål nr 06-304, vm.reg. 369.154), albeit with one member of the court with a dissenting opinion. Unfortunately, they did not elaborate as to why they settled the original ruling.

Technical drawing. According to decision by the Swedish Supreme Court.NJA 2004 s. 149
 Not OK The logo has been created using a Gothic font in a way which is frequently used among bands in the genre in question [death metal]. The logotype can thus not be considered to fulfill the demands of originality and distinctive character needed for copyright protection. - Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) Invändningsärende 2013/0133/0001, Registrering nr 514059.

According to the court, after a comprehensive assessment, the wordmark shows such level of indivudual, distinctive character that it must be considered to possess copyright protection. The court especially values the font of choice, the individual design of the first and last letter and the fact that the first and last letter has been written in caps. - Patent- och marknadsdomstolen (Patent and Market Court) PMÄ 10796-16

This ruling was appealed to Patent- och marknadsöverdomstolen (Patent and Market Court of Appeals) which settled the previous ruling (Mål nr PMÖÄ 5441-17). Unfortunately, they did not elaborate as to why they settled the previous ruling.

 Not OK A black-and-white version of fr:File:Dunderklumpen Logo.png Ruled above the TOO by Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) (Varumärkesansökan nr 2014/00870), another part of the same ruling was appealed to the Patent- och marknadsdomstolen (Patent and Market Court) which settled the original ruling (Mål nr PMÄ 10748-16). Neither instance elaborated further as why the logo was ruled above the TOO but one can speculate that it was because it was a very obvious case.
 Not OK Michelin man lamp Ruled above the TOO by Patent- och registreringsverket (Swedish Intellectual Property Office) (Varumärkesansökan nr 2015/03538). The office did not elaborate further as why the logo was ruled above the TOO but one can speculate that it was because it was a very obvious case.
 Not OK
Mini Maglite torch (Mål: T 1421-07, Högsta domstolen)
 Not OK Porcelain [8] "Sundborn", made by Rörstrand
 Not OK Photo illustrating a newspaper article RH 2009:18 (removed from the website in 2004 because of copyright infringement, protected as a photographic work for 70 years after author's death)
 Not OK Knitted tunic (NJA 1995 s. 164)
 Not OK Technical drawings (NJA 1998 s. 563)
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COM:TOO Switzerland


Swiss copyright law defines works as "literary and artistic intellectual creations with individual character, irrespective of their value or purpose".[96] Such works are protected by copyright: "Up to 70 years after the death of the author (50 years for computer programs); 50 years from the taking of a photograph without individual character; 70 years from the performance/publication of a phonogram or audio-visual fixation; 50 years from the transmission of a broadcast."[97] This section discusses some types of subject matter.

Photographs: Photographs may be protected as works on the basis of their individual character (individual photographs). Some photographs that lack individual character may also enjoy protection (non-individual photographs).

  • Individual photographs: The individual character may manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as the choice of the depicted object, the decision on when the picture is taken, or the editing work done after the picture has been taken.[98] In a 2003 decision, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland held that a photo of Bob Marley taken at a concert by a spectator with a handheld camera was eligible for protection as a photographic work because it had the required individual character by virtue of the aesthetic appeal of the picture, combined with the orientation of the picture's components and the distribution of light and shadow. It also found that the photograph was a "creation of the mind" by being shot at a specific time during the singer's movement on the stage.[99] By contrast, in the 2004 case Blau Guggenheim v. British Broadcasting Corporation, the Court found that a photo (en:File:Christoph Meili 1997-nonfree.jpg), shot by a reporter to document Christoph Meili with the files he had taken from his employer, lacked individual character. It found that the scope of conceptual and technical possibilities was not exploited, and that the photograph did not distinguish itself in any way from what was common use.[100] The copyright in an individual photograph lasts for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author died.[101]
  • Non-individual photographs: Effective 1 April 2020, Swiss law also protects certain non-individual photographs. Article 2(3bis) URG provides that "photographic depictions and depictions of three-dimensional objects produced by a process similar to that of photography are considered works, even if they do not have individual character". While no individuality is required, according to the official motives accompanying the (eventually adopted) revision draft, these photographs are still required to be "based on human actions", and thus "automatically created photographs such as radar pictures, pictures from surveillance cameras or camera traps" are ineligible for protection.[102] It should be noted that the new right also applies to photographs created before 1 April 2020 that had previously not been protected for failing the individuality test; however, if a particular use of a non-individual photograph was "begun prior to the commencement" of the new law, it "may be completed".[103] According to the official motives, this has the effect that "if non-individual photographs are used on a web page, the web page may be maintained after the entry into force of the protection of non-individual photographs. If, on the other hand, such photographs are included into an existing or a new web page after the entry into force of this protection, permission is required from the owner of the rights in the non-individual photographs."[104] The copyright in a non-individual photograph lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the photo was taken.[105]
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COM:TOO Taiwan


The level required for copyright is low. Independently created works with "minimal creativity" are eligible, according to Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office.[106]

The following examples are OK:

  • These two artworks with traditional design elements are unprotected, according to court decisions that they do not meet the originality threshold for copyright protection:[107]
  • Simple typeface, such as the typeface of Sunshow company logo:

The following examples are  Not OK:

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COM:TOO Turkey


Might be OK

The Turkish copyright laws depend on the work bearing the characteristics of its creator while deciding whether the work is original, and considered on a case-by-case basis.[113]

Common law countries

See also: Commons:When to use the PD-signature tag#Common law countries and #Lower threshold in United Kingdom etc..

Common law countries typically use a "skill and labour" test to determine the minimum level of originality capable of attracting copyright protection. The required level is extremely low in some countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. However, Canada and India are major two exceptions. Without some research into individual laws, it cannot be assumed that a text logo from a Common law country is necessarily allowed on Commons. If there is real doubt about the position a local court would take, then the image must be deleted under the precautionary principle.

If the logo is extremely simple (e.g. in a standard font), it will not be eligible for copyright even in Common law countries.

If you are aware of specific case law or legal advice on this issue in any country, please add a "Threshold of originality" section to the appropriate Commons:Copyright rules by territory country subpage, and add a link to it with an entry below.

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COM:TOO Australia


No information available

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COM:TOO Canada


Unlike other common law countries, Canada's threshold of originality veers closer to that of the United States. CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada explicitly rejected the "sweat of the brow" doctrine for being too low of a standard, but at the same time, stated that the creativity standards for originality were too high:

A creativity standard implies that something must be novel or non-obvious — concepts more properly associated with patent law than copyright law. And for these reasons, I conclude that an “original” work under the Copyright Act is one that originates from an author and is not copied from another work. That alone, however, is not sufficient to find that something is original. In addition, an original work must be the product of an author’s exercise of skill and judgment. The exercise of skill and judgment required to produce the work must not be so trivial that it could be characterized as a purely mechanical exercise."

The same case also stated:

For a work to be “original” within the meaning of the Copyright Act, it must be more than a mere copy of another work. At the same time, it need not be creative, in the sense of being novel or unique. What is required to attract copyright protection in the expression of an idea is an exercise of skill and judgment. By skill, I mean the use of one’s knowledge, developed aptitude or practised ability in producing the work. By judgment, I mean the use of one’s capacity for discernment or ability to form an opinion or evaluation by comparing different possible options in producing the work. This exercise of skill and judgment will necessarily involve intellectual effort.

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COM:TOO Hong Kong

Hong Kong

 Not OK for most logos. The level of originality required for copyright protection is presumably very low.

Because Hong Kong was a territory of the United Kingdom until 1997, Hong Kong law is modeled on UK law, and in the absence of any specific case law to the contrary it is reasonable to assume that the rules will be similar. See the United Kingdom for more details.

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India seems to have a similar threshold of originality as the US Courts, called Modicum of Creativity. Older cases may have similar thresholds of originality to the UK Courts called Sweat of the brow but this is no longer applied.

Robbin Singh has written an essay on the subject that may be useful.[114]

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COM:TOO Ireland

Republic of Ireland


Despite uncertainty on the required level of originality needed to qualify for copyright protection, images that have been retained on Commons include:

Image Description Discussion
ISPCA official logo Commons:Deletion requests/File:ISPCA official logo.png
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COM:TOO Israel


Although Israel historically used a "skill and labour" test similar to that used by the UK, since the 1989 Israeli Supreme Court's ruling in Interlego A/S v. Exin-Lines Bros. SA they have tended fairly close to a US-style requirement equating originality with human creativity.[115]

In Israel, the Supreme Court in the Interlego A/S v. Exin-Lines Bros. SA decision adopted the Feist ruling with regards to both the interpretation of the originality requirement and the general rejection of the ‘sweat of the brow’ doctrine and the labour theory as a legitimate interest for establishing a copyright claim.

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COM:TOO Malaysia


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.
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COM:TOO Nigeria


Under the Copyright Act of 1988 (Chapter C.28, as codified 2004), A literary, musical or artistic work shall not be eligible for copyright unless (a) sufficient effort has been expended on making the work to give it an original character;...[C28/2004 Section 1(2)]

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COM:TOO New Zealand

New Zealand

As stated in the New Zealand government's NZGOAL copyright guide (January 2015),

  • As the Court of Appeal has stated, the “threshold test for originality is not high”, the determining factor being “whether sufficient time, skill, labour, or judgment has been expended in producing the work”. The Court has also reiterated the axiom, or principle, that copyright is not concerned with the originality of ideas but with the form of their expression. A work is not original, however, if (a) it is, or to the extent that it is, a copy of another work; or (b) it infringes the copyright in, or to the extent that it infringes the copyright in, another work.[116]
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COM:TOO Singapore


For logos

 Likely not OK for most logos. The level of originality required for copyright protection is presumably very low.

Because Singapore was a territory of the United Kingdom until 1963, Singapore law is modeled on UK law, and in the absence of any specific case law to the contrary it is reasonable to assume that the rules will be similar. See the United Kingdom for more details.

For buildings

Assume all Singaporean buildings as copyrighted, regardless of design or artistry involved. Copyright Act 2021 (Act 22 of 2021) explicitly considers all buildings as artistic works: a building or a model of a building (whether the building or model is of artistic quality or not).[22/2021 Section 20(1)(a)(ii)] Please use {{FoP-Singapore}} even to plain-looking Singaporean buildings instead of {{PD-structure|SGP}}.

OK for Lego bricks (see w:Interlego v Tyco Industries).

 Not OK for most logos. The level of originality required for copyright protection in the United Kingdom is very low.

In determining whether a work is protected, typographical copyright, publication rights and database rights need to be considered.

These images are eligible for copyright protection:

[The defendants] submitted that the claimant can have no copyright in its EDGE logo because it is not original over the Franklin Gothic typeface. I do not accept this submission. The stretching of the font was combined with the distinctive slash and projection on the middle bar of the "E". What is required for artistic originality is the expenditure of more than negligible or trivial effort or relevant skill in the creation of the work: see Copinger and Skone James on Copyright 16th Ed at 3-130 and Ladbroke v. William Hill [1964] 1 WLR 273 at 287. The claimant's logo is original within this test.

— Mrs Justice Proudman, in: Future Publishing Ltd v The Edge Interactive Media Inc & Ors [2011] EWHC 1489 (Ch) at [10][118]
Digital copies of images

In 2014 (updated 2015) the UK's Intellectual Property Office issued an advice notice, which said, in part:[119]

... according to established case law, the courts have said that copyright can only subsist in subject matter that is original in the sense that it is the author's own 'intellectual creation'. Given this criterion, it seems unlikely that what is merely a retouched, digitised image of an older work can be considered as 'original'. This is because there will generally be minimal scope for a creator to exercise free and creative choices if their aim is simply to make a faithful reproduction of an existing work.

Under section 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, this decision remains generally binding on UK courts.

This was restated in a November 2023 Appeal Court judgement (THJ v Sheridan, 2023) which confirmed that no new copyright is created in making a photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional public domain artwork, and that this has been the case since 2009. According to the judgement, the previously used "skill and labour" test had been replaced by the "author’s own intellectual creation" test.[120][121]

Logos and flags


Images which have been kept because of lack of originality or de minimis:

Note that some of these decisions were controversial.


Photographs which have been deemed ineligible for copyright protection:


Maps which have been deemed ineligible for copyright protection:

Darden v. Peters.

Darden v. Peters: the addition of "font and color selection; visual effects such as relief, shadowing, and shading; labeling; call-outs" and anti-aliasing to a preexisting map is below the threshold of originality

Use: {{PD-map}}. See the section farther down on partial copying or cropping of uncopyrightable elements from copyrighted works. See also:


Charts which have been deemed ineligible for copyright protection. Use: {{PD-chart}}. See the section farther down on partial copying or cropping of uncopyrightable elements from copyrighted works. See also:

Partial copying or cropping of copyrighted works

When a file copies only part of a copyrighted work, that file's copyright status is determined only by what it has copied. If it only copied uncopyrightable elements, then the file is also uncopyrightable. In other words, we judge the copyright status of a file only by what the file itself contains, not by the status of other content the original source contained that was not copied by the file.

This image of the front cover of a novel is public domain in the USA because it only copies uncopyrightable text, not copyrightable contents of the book itself or possibly-copyrightable contents of the back cover. (DR) It would probably not be PD in UK because of the UK's publisher's 25 year copyright on typography, except for the fact that this typographical arrangement was published over 25 years ago.

Lower threshold in United Kingdom etc.

See also


Some citation text may not have been transcluded
  1. Omega S.A., v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 541 F.3d 982, 983.
  2. Fishman, Stephen (2014) The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More, Nolo, p. 183 Retrieved on 29 August 2014. ISBN: 1413320287.
  3. [1]
  4. Bauer logo.
  5. Oberster Gerichtshof statement.
  6. Zimmermann Fitness logo.
  7. Oberster Gerichtshof statement.
  8. Denis Borges Barbosa (dezembro de 2012). Como o requisito autoral de originalidade vai se radicando nos precedentes judiciais (in Portuguese). Retrieved on 2019-03-12.
  9. Página 417 da Judicial - 1ª Instância - Capital do Diário de Justiça do Estado de São Paulo (DJSP) de 26 de Julho de 2011 (in Portuguese). Retrieved on 2019-03-12.
  10. STJ AI 604.956 - MG (2004/0059338-6), Ministro Carlos Alberto Menezes Direito, 30 de setembro de 2004; also PROCESSO TRT/SP Nº 0001174-81.2012.5.02.0086 (2016).
  11. Guerra das Moedas court case.
  12. Quarta Turma não reconhece violação de direito autoral em título de novela da Globo (in Portuguese) (18 May 2017). Retrieved on 2019-03-12.
  13. Tribunal de Justiça de Santa Catarina TJ-SC - Apelacao Civel : AC 111630 SC 2002.011163-0 (in Portuguese). "não se considera criação artística as fotografias tiradas por profissional do ramo que retratam de forma manifestamente singela, sem o emprego de qualquer técnica diferenciada, o frontispício de um edifício residencial e a vista parcial da cidade, em observância a contrato de prestação de serviços entabulado com empresa do ramo imobiliário e com destino publicitário previamente ajustado entre as partes"
  14. Tribunal de Justiça de Santa Catarina TJ-SC - Apelacao Civel : AC 111630 SC 2002.011163-0 (in Portuguese). Retrieved on 2019-03-11. "mera documentação fotográfica, sem caráter artístico, afasta a incidência do direito de autor, "... tornando possível o uso de terceiro sem menção do nome do fotógrafo, pois, conforme lei brasileira, somente a fotografia artística (pela escolha do objeto e condiçõe de execução) se inscreve dentre as obras protegidas." (...) [segue exemplo ilustrativo] fotografias documentárias de reuniões sociais - Autor que na época estava do desempenho de funções junto ao réu - Inexigível a referência ao nome do fotógrafo por não se tratar de trabalho artístico - Falta de originalidade, criatividade, valor estético ou de furo de documentação"
  15. Tribunal de Justiça do Paraná TJ-PR - Apelação Cível : AC 946589 PR Apelação Cível - 0094658-9 (in Portuguese) (2000). Retrieved on 2019-03-12. "As fotografias destinadas a documentos de identidade, produzidas por máquinas automáticas, não são obras artísticas. (...) Também não devem alcançar a proteção do direito de autor as fotografias meramente técnicas, em que se procura uma reprodução tal qual de certo objetivo, sem a menor preocupação artística."
  16. Tribunal de Justiça de Minas Gerais TJ-MG : 2933464 MG 2.0000.00.293346-4/000(1) (in Portuguese). Retrieved on 2019-03-12. "as fotos [...] denotam caráter artístico, caracterizando-se pela originalidade, criatividade e técnica da sua autora, elementos que dela não se podem excluir como reveladores, a princípio, de uma obra de arte. Não são elas, como pretende o apelante, meras constatações ou reproduções de imagens para fins publicitários, ou instantâneos comuns"
  17. Sentencia nº C-2470-2009, de 17º Juzgado Civil de Santiago, 28 de Octubre de 2011
  18. V-74-01 Jydsk Vindueskompagni mod Bering Byg (pdf). Retrieved on 17 April 2020.
  19. 3 February 2004 (V 98/01))
  20. Sø- og Handelsretten (The Maritime and Commercial Court) in March 1998, U 1998:946 S and NIR 69:3, p. 413-418 [2000]
  21. Violation of the copyright of the Global Knife Series. Supreme Court (19-09-2011). Archived from the original on October 9, 2015. Retrieved on 2019-03-24. "Det var for Højesteret ubestridt, at Global-knivene er ophavsretligt beskyttet i medfør af ophavsretslovens § 1. Højesteret udtalte, at Global-knivene som brugskunst er beskyttet mod meget nærgående efterligninger. Højesteret fandt, at Royal-knivenes design ikke indebar en tilstrækkelig frigørelse fra det særegne ved Global-knivenes udformning, men måtte anses som en meget nærgående efterligning. (It was undisputed to the Supreme Court that the Global blades are protected by copyright under section 1 of the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court stated that the Global blades as a utility art are protected from very close imitations. The Supreme Court found that the design of the Royal blades did not sufficiently differ from the distinctive nature of the design of the Global blades, and had to be regarded as a very close imitation."
  22. Infringement of the Copyright Act Case 306/2009. Supreme Court (28-06-2011). Retrieved on 2019-03-24.
  23. a b TN 2011:7
  24. TN 2014:13
  25. TN 2001:12
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  29. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [17].
  30. See, in particular, Bundesgerichtshof 27 November 1956, case I ZR 57/55 Morgenpost, 22 BGHZ 209, 215ff; Bundesgerichtshof 22 June 1995, case I ZR 119/93 Silberdistel, (1995) 97 GRUR 581, 582. See further A Ohly, "Where is the Birthday Train Heading? The Copyright-Design Interface in German Law" in G Karnell and others (eds), Liber Amicorum Jan Rosén ( ab 2016) 593ff.
  31. Bundesgerichtshof 13 November 2013, case I ZR 143/12 Geburtstagszug, 199 BGHZ 52 [26].
  32. Bundesgerichtshof 13 November 2013, case I ZR 143/12 Geburtstagszug, 199 BGHZ 52 [41].
  33. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [19].
  34. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [20].
  35. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [20].
  36. Appeals court level or higher. Omitted here are cases where copyright protection was denied based on the now-abandoned "two-tier theory".
  37. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [30].
  38. Oberlandesgericht Schleswig 11 September 2014, case 6 U 74/10 Geburtstagszug II, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 1 [17]–[23].
  39. Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main 12 June 2019, case 11 U 51/18, (2019) 63 ZUM 787, 788f.
  40. Bundesgerichtshof 27 April 2017, case I ZR 247/15 AIDA Kussmund, (2017) 119 GRUR 798 [11].
  41. Oberlandesgericht Schleswig 11 September 2014, case 6 U 74/10 Geburtstagszug II, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 1 [29]–[31]. Finding of copyright protection not challenged on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 16 June 2016, case I ZR 122/14 Geburtstagskarawane, (2016) 118 GRUR 1291.
  42. Oberlandesgericht Köln 20 February 2015, case 6 U 131/14 Airbrush-Urnen, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 275 [14]–[16].
  43. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 14 October 2021, case 5 W 40/21 Grand Step Shoes, (2022) 124 GRUR 565 [22]–[26].
  44. Bundesgerichtshof 7 April 2022, case I ZR 222/20 Porsche 911, (2022) 124 GRUR 899 [26]–[32].
  45. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 30 March 2023, case 5 U 84/21, (2023) 27 ZUM-RD 481.
  46. S Zentek, "Acht Jahrzehnte verkanntes Design im deutschen Urheberrecht: Die Geschichte des Schutzes von Gebrauchsgestaltungen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Nationalsozialismus" (doctoral thesis, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf 2015) 276. See also L Mezger, Die Schutzschwelle für Werke der angewandten Kunst nach deutschem und europäischem Recht (V&R unipress 2017) 60f ("hardly possible" in particular to keep track of the jurisprudence on designer furniture).
  47. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 27 April 2011, case 5 U 26/09; affirmed in pertinent part on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 5 November 2015, case I ZR 91/11 Marcel-Breuer­-Möbel II, (2016) 69 NJW 2335 [26]–[28].
  48. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 30 March 2011, case 5 U 207/08; affirmed in pertinent part on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 5 November 2015, case I ZR 76/11 Wagenfeld-Leuchte II, (2016) 69 NJW 2338 [20]–[22].
  49. Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf 30 May 2000, case 20 U 4/99 Spannring, (2001) 1 GRUR-RR 294, 296.
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  52. Logó szerzői jogi védelme Ügyszám: SZJSZT – 17/12 (in Hungarian). Copyright Expert Panel (20 February 2013). Retrieved on 2019-03-26.
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  62. Jean-Luc PUTZ. das luxemburgische Urheberrecht: eine Einführung (in German). Retrieved on 2019-01-29.
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  70. a b Indecopi (24 April 2002). Fotografía: Alcance de la protección (in Spanish). Retrieved on 2020-12-25.
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  75. Indecopi (4 June 2013). Resolution No 0384-2013/CDA-INDECOPI: Infraction in reuse of Peruvian Connection Spring 2010 photos (in Spanish). Retrieved on 2021-09-12.
  76. Decreto Supremo que aprueba el Reglamento del Decreto Legislativo N° 1218, Decreto Legislativo que regula el uso de las cámaras de videovigilancia y de la Ley N° 30120, Ley de Apoyo a la Seguridad Ciudadana con Cámaras de Videovigilancia Públicas y Privadas, y dicta otras disposiciones. El Peruano (2020). Retrieved on 2021-05-18.
  77. Murillo Chávez, Javier André (2017). Los derechos de autor y/o conexos del ¿Robot?. Enfoque de Derecho. Retrieved on 2021-05-17.
  78. Murillo Chávez, Javier André (febraury 2017). "Fa - Sol - La. Completando conceptos sobre la obra musical y su originalidad en la jurisprudencia peruana". Diálogo como la jurisprudencia (221): 229-254. ISSN 1812-9587. Retrieved on 2020-10-21.
  79. Murillo Chávez, Javier André (june 2015). "The incomplete puzzle. The missing rule and ruling about the protection by copyright of characters and objects of the work". Derecho PUCP (74): 189-220. ISSN 0251-3420. Retrieved on 2020-10-21.
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  81. Murillo Chávez, Javier André (febraury 2012). "Conviviendo con el enemigo. Sobre los conflictos entre el Derecho de Propiedad Industrial y el Derecho de Autor". Actualidad Jurídica (221): 321-336. ISSN 1812-9552. Retrieved on 2021-5-17.
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  96. Federal Act on Copyright and Related Rights, art 2(1). SR 231.1 Bundesgesetz über das Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte. Government of Switzerland. Retrieved on 12 September 2020.
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  98. Cf BGE 130 III 168, 173 – Bob Marley.
  99. X. gegen Y. AG, decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court of September 5, 2003; BGE 130 III 168.
  100. Blau Guggenheim gegen British Broadcasting Corporation BBC, decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court of April 19, 2004; BGE 130 III 714.
  101. Art 29(2) lit b URG.
  102. Bundesrat, "Botschaft zur Änderung des Urheberrechtsgesetzes sowie zur Genehmigung zweier Abkommen der Weltorganisation für geistiges Eigentum und zu deren Umsetzung", BBl 2018 591, 620. See also W Egloff in D Barrelet and W Egloff (eds), Das neue Urheberrecht (4th edn, Stämpfli 2020) art 2 para 35.
  103. Art 80(2) URG. W Egloff in D Barrelet and W Egloff (eds), Das neue Urheberrecht (4th edn, Stämpfli 2020) art 2 para 38; P Mosimann and Y Hostettler, "Zur Revision des Urheberrechtsgesetzes" (2018) 36 recht 123, 126; Bundesrat, "Botschaft zur Änderung des Urheberrechtsgesetzes sowie zur Genehmigung zweier Abkommen der Weltorganisation für geistiges Eigentum und zu deren Umsetzung", BBl 2018 591, 620 («In Verbindung mit Artikel 80 Absatz 1 URG führt die Erweiterung des Schutzumfangs auf Fotografien ohne individuellen Charakter dazu, dass der Urheberrechtsschutz solche Fotografien auch dann erfassen wird, wenn sie vor seinem Inkrafttreten dieser Teilrevision geschaffen wurden.»).
  104. Bundesrat, "Botschaft zur Änderung des Urheberrechtsgesetzes sowie zur Genehmigung zweier Abkommen der Weltorganisation für geistiges Eigentum und zu deren Umsetzung", BBl 2018 591, 621.
  105. Art 29(2) lit abis, 29(4) URG.
  106. 智著字第09700078680號. Intellectual Property Office.
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  112. 智慧財產法院108年民商上字第5號民事判決 (2020-01-16).
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