Commons talk:Copyright rules by territory

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Canadian public domain[edit]

I'm having trouble finding a government document that states that photographs taken prior to 1 January 1949 in Canada are public domain, as this project page suggests. Can someone provide a link? CanadianJudoka (talk) 20:30, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

See the footer at this page and the discussion at Template talk:PD-Canada. --Stefan4 (talk) 23:20, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. In the meantime, I found two university libraries that mention it on current websites: Ryerson and Guelph. CanadianJudoka (talk) 04:15, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
One must figure out the result of the combination of the effects of the following documents:
Note its sections 7, 58 and 61: (N.B.: Keep in mind that "this Act" means this amending act (S.C. 1997, c. 24) while "the Act" means the Copyright Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-42))
  • "7. Section 10 of the Act is replaced (...)" (N.B.: Remember that the part that was thus removed from section 10 of the Act was the part that provided that the copyright term for all photographs was 50 years after their creation, including for photographs authored by natural persons. Cf. the previous text of section 10 of the Copyright Act before this 1997 amendment.)
  • "58. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as reviving a copyright that expired before the coming into force of this section."
  • "61. (...) This Act or any provision of this Act (...) comes into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council."
"(...) the Governor General in Council (...), pursuant to section 61 of An Act to amend the Copyright Act, assented to on April 25, 1997, being chapter 24 of the Statutes of Canada, 1997, hereby fixes
  • September 1, 1997 as the day on which (...) sections (...) 58 (...) of that Act, shall come into force (...)"
" Order fixing the dates upon which certain provisions of An Act to amend the Copyright Act, being chapter 24 of the Statutes of Canada, 1997 [Bill C-32], shall come into force, as follows: (...)
  • Friday, January 1, 1999 -- sections 7 (...) "
The reader will not have missed the peculiar fact that sections 58 and 7 of the amending act were put into force at different dates. This causes an interesting situation. By the combined effect of section 58 of the amending act and of order in council 1997-1065, nothing in this Act shall be construed as reviving a copyright that expired before September 1, 1997. Whereas, by the combined effect of section 7 of the amending act and of order in council 1998-0364, the old version of section 10 of the Copyright Act remained in force until January 1, 1999, and thus, between September 1, 1997 and January 1, 1999, photographs authored by natural persons continued to have their copyrights expire 50 years after their creation (another section of the Copyright Act provides that copyrights expire at the end of calendar years, so in practice the photos in question would include those created between January 1, 1947 and December 31, 1948). But the expiration of the copyright of those photos was not subject to the anti-revival provision of section 58 of the amending act, because order in council 1997-1065 had the effect of explicitely excluding those photos from the application of section 58 of the amending act. So, was the copyright of those photos revived or not? There are two possible solutions, none of which sound really satisfactory. The first solution would be to ignore section 58, do as if it was superfluous and did not exist, and consider that no expired copyrights are revived anyway. The second solution would be to assume that the government actually wanted 1997, not 1999, to be the limit when it limited the application of the anti-revival provision of section 58 only to copyrights expired before September 1, 1997, and thus section 58 is to be read, a contrario, to mean that the copyrights that had expired in 1997 and 1998 on photographs, under the old version of section 10 of the Copyright Act, were revived in 1999, under the new version of section 10.
-- Asclepias (talk) 08:58, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

Nigerian public domain[edit]

I need help to know the Copyright Protection Law of Nigeria because till now, no law is mentioned in Wikimedia Commons. Best regards. --Faycal.09 (talk) 10:43, 18 January 2013 (UTC).


“An exception applies to the photographic and similarly-made works, and the works of applied art, which are public domain in Croatia and in the United States if published in 1970 or earlier.”

This doesn't seem correct. If the work was first published between 11 May 1966 and 31 December 1969 and with a copyright notice, then it seems that it would still be protected by copyright in the United States thanks to the w:Universal Copyright Convention. Could someone verify? --Stefan4 (talk) 15:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Feel welcome to correct it if the works are still copyrighted in the United States. I've calculated this by considering the URAA year. These works were protected for 25 years in Yugoslavia, the new act was passed in Croatia in 1999, therefore 1999-25=1974. The URAA year is 1996,[1] 1996-25=1971. --Eleassar (t/p) 10:49, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Ghana copyright[edit]

This link [[2]] has the 2005 Copyright Act (Act 690) for Ghana. As i am no legal expert, i am hesitant to include it myself. But someone more experienced may be able to verify and add it, if it's authentic and actual. GermanJoe (talk) 13:16, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Added, but feel free to improve (IANAL). GermanJoe (talk) 07:47, 13 August 2013 (UTC)


Somalia says "There has been no copyright protection in Somalia since the start of the country's civil war in 1991 and the subsequent destruction of the national copyright office. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the last time the copyright office updated its records was in 1986." That strikes me as a complete non sequitur. The question of whether or not the law provides for copyright protection does not depend on current records or the existence of a copyright office. (Not to mention that the link no longer says that; I don't know if facts have changed or WIPO just messed with their pages.)--Prosfilaes (talk) 17:35, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

South Africa[edit]

The Copyright Act 1978 (No. 98 of 1978) defines works of architecture as artistic works

“artistic work” means, irrespective of the artistic quality thereof—
(b) works of architecture, being either buildings or models of buildings; or

and infringing copies of artistic works as a copy of the work

“infringing copy”, in relation to—
(a) a literary, musical or artistic work or a published edition, means a copy thereof;

and copy as

“copy” means a reproduction of a work, and, in the case of a literary, musical or artistic work, a cinematograph film or a computer program, also an adaptation thereof: Provided that an object shall not be taken to be a copy of a work of architecture unless the object is a building or a model of a building;

Since photos are neither buildings or models of buildings, photos of buildings are not copies of the artistic work and can not be infringing copies

--NJR_ZA (talk) 18:31, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

On the other hand, article 7 of the act says that:
'Copyright in an artistic work vests the exclusive right to do or to authorize the doing of any of the following acts in the Republic:
(a) Reproducing the work in any manner or form;
(e) making an adaptation of the work;
and the act defines reproduction and adaptation of artistic works as follows:
'“reproduction”, in relation to— [...]
(b) an artistic work, includes a version produced by converting the work into a three-dimensional form or, if it is in three dimensions, by converting it into a two-dimensional form;'
'“adaptation”, in relation to— [...]
(c) an artistic work, includes a transformation of the work in such a manner that the original or substantial features thereof remain recognizable;'
Also, clause 23(1) states that:
'Copyright shall be infringed by any person, not being the owner of the copyright, who, without the licence of such owner, does or causes any other person to do, in the Republic, any act which the owner has the exclusive rights to do or to authorize.'
From these it seems that the copyright holder of a building would the only one allowed to take photos of it (or authorise the taking of such photos), or to make recognisable adaptations of such photos.
The only reference to "infringing copy" (besides its definition) I can find in the act relates to the importation of copies (clause 28(2)), so it does not seem to have wide implications.
There does seem to be a FOP-like exemption for cinematograph films in clause 15(3), but I don't see one for photos. --Avenue (talk) 23:48, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Question about the effect of URAA[edit]

This question has come up at Commons:Deletion requests/File:M.C.Cowdrey1954.png but I suppose it is of wider applicability. Is it correct that the URAA copyright restoration provisions require that an Australian work, which entered the public domain in Australia in 2005, receives US copyright protection until 95 years after the date it was first published? - Pointillist (talk) 00:00, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

To be pedantic, it means that it receives the same US copyright protection as it would if it had been first published in the US following all copyright formalities and properly renewed. Except in applying the URAA only to works still in copyright in their source nation in 1996*, the US does not follow the rule of the shorter term.
* Usually. Any country that does not have its copyrights protected in the US under Berne or other mutual treaties can get their works restored under the URAA if they do become a party to a international or bilateral copyright treaty with the US, and Vietnam and a couple other countries have done so, making their dates later.--Prosfilaes (talk) 04:09, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks - Pointillist (talk) 08:07, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


Hi! Could serve as a base for the list of country-specific laws, here regarding Honduras. Feel free to recheck and/or reedit.

According to Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law (approved by Decree No. 4-99-E) (2006) (.pdf)Spanish:

  • General info:
  • Copyrightable works
    • Individual works: 75 years after author's death (art. 44).
    • Collaborative works: 75 years after death of the last surviving author (art. 45.1).
    • Anonymous or pseudonymous works: 75 years after first publication or (without publication within 50 years after creation) 70 years since the end of the year of creation. If the author of an anonymous work becomes known during this period (**** unclear: 50 or 75 years?? ****), 75 years after author's death applies. (art. 45.2).
    • Collective works: 75 years after first publication or (without publication within 50 years after creation) 70 years since the end of the year of creation (art. 45.3).
    • Governmental works: Laws, regulations, agreements and other provisions emanated from the corresponding organs of the State which were previously published in the "Diario Oficial La Gaceta" are not eligible for copyright (art. 54).

Gunnex (talk) 12:01, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

PD in American Samoa[edit]

Can anyone answer this: Does United States copyright law apply uniformly within the "offshore" territories of the US as well as in the states/DC? Specifically, I'm considering uploading some images that were taken in American Samoa. In the US proper these images would be in the PD due to {{PD-US-1978-89}}, but I'm concerned the same law may not apply in American Samoa. Help? — Ipoellet (talkf.k.a. Werewombat 02:48, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

Faroe Islands[edit]

User:MGA73 added a section about the Faroe Islands. For example, it now says that "Film are protected for the rest of the year the film was first made available to the public + 50 full years. If it was never made public it is protected the rest of the year the film was created + 50 full years. (§ 56)" Is this really accurate? In the European Union, this term is used for films which do not meet the threshold of originality, whereas films which do meet the threshold of originality get the term extended to 70 years after the death of certain people (see EU directive 93/98/EEC articles 2.2 and 3.3). From what I have understood, the Faroese copyright law is similar to the Danish one, so it seems likely that the Faroe Islands would use the same duration. --Stefan4 (talk) 19:36, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

My bad Stefan4... The answer is in § 53. I'll strik the bullit. --MGA73 (talk) 19:53, 27 December 2014 (UTC)


Problematic clause "publication and/or reproduction of anything which is published by or on behalf of the government, except if the copyright is declared to be protected by law or regulation or by a statement on the work itself or at the time the work is published;" might get more than 2.000 files get deleted from Commons because it was taken from government websites, and almost all government websites put © mark on their footer.

Discuss it at Commons:Village_pump#All_Indonesian_government_pictures_are_copyvio permalink. Bennylin (yes?) 23:23, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

New copyright law[edit]

Commons:Copyright_rules_by_territory#Indonesia should be updated to reflect UU No. 28/2014 (transcription work in progress in Indonesian Wikisource. Bennylin (yes?) 13:46, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Yes, it need to be changed the older one from year 2002 (Indonesian Copyright Act No. 19, 2002) are now obsolete replaced by Copyright act no. 28, 2014.--AldNonUcallin?☎ 14:00, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Addendum id:s:Halaman:UU 28 2014.pdf/1 Already explain everything.--AldNonUcallin?☎ 14:06, 7 January 2015 (UTC)


Hi, Could someone make a short resume of [3] please? It is needed for this case: File:Dr Ernest Mercier Cuba.jpg. Thanks, Yann (talk) 22:01, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

According to that law, the period of protection is rather short: 25 (veinticinco) years following the death of the author (Art. 43). BUT in case of a photographic work (obra fotográfica) or applied art work, the copyright period is 10 (diez) years following the use of the work (Art. 47). Anyone is entitled to use a work no longer under copyright, provided the name of the author is mentioned (Art. 49).
However, art. 49 continues saying that Notwithstanding this (No obstante), the user will have to make a special contribution to a fund for the development of science, education and culture in the country. Details about the contribution and the amount will be spelled out by the Ministry of Culture. That's unusual. I wonder if this restriction is in force? --Lubiesque (talk) 15:28, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Is that the current law? According to w:List of parties to international copyright agreements, Cuba is a signatory to the Berne Convention, which stipulates a copyright term which is longer than the term you mention above.
In SOU 1956:25 pp. 352-353, there is some discussion about royalties for works whose copyright has expired, similar to what you mention above. It says that this idea originates from 19th century France and that there were at least five countries (Italy, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania and Czechoslovakia) which had this rule as of 1956 when the document was written. I don't know whether those five countries (or their successor states) still have this rule or whether it is currently in use elsewhere (apart from Cuba). --Stefan4 (talk) 23:50, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
From what I can see, there has been only one change to the copyright law of 1977: the very short Decreto-Ley Nº 156 of 1994. The amending decree increases the general period of protection to 50 years after death. In case of a photographic work, the period of protection is increased to 25 years following the use (utilización) of the work. The preamble of the decree states that the reason for the change is to bring the Cuban copyright law within an accepted range of internationally recognized standards. There is nothing about any retroactive effect of the new law. --Lubiesque (talk) 14:59, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

United States[edit]

KDS4444, I partially reverted some of your recent changes to the "United States" section of this page. In particular:

  • I reverted your change of "Anything published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain" to "Anything published before January 1, 1923 in the United States is in the public domain" as the original was correct it in it's statement that in the U.S. anything published anywhere in the world before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain.
    • Actually, the correct statement should be "Anything published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain in the United States". Regards, Yann (talk) 17:56, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I reverted your change in which you claimed that copyright assigned to the U.S. Government by contractors are "therefore in the public domain". This is not the caae, in fact copyright assignment by a contractor is one of the classic examples of a method by which a U.S. Government agency can end up owning copyright.
  • I removed the Smithsonian Institution section you added. It incorrectly summarized SI's unique status as a trust instrumentality of the U.S. Government. The SI can, and does, have federal employees whose creations in the course of their official duties become PD (for which Commons has {{PD-USGov-SI}}). If you believe otherwise, this should probably be first discussed at Commons:Village Pump/Copyright.

RP88 (talk) 06:04, 28 September 2015 (UTC)


I've updated the section for Jamaica to indicate that with the The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2015 No.13 Jamaica now has a copyright term of life + 95 years (per §5 of the amendment) and for works of unknown authorship the term is now 95 years from when made available to the public (per §6 of the amendment). The former copyright term was life + 50 years. In addition, per §29 of the amendment, the term extension is retroactive to 1 January 2012. Jamaican authors who died on or before 31 December 1961 remain in the public domain in Jamaica. Works whose authors died between 1 January 1962 and 31 December 1964 were public domain in Jamaica, but are no longer. —RP88 (talk) 23:09, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

American unpublished[edit]

The United States section could use some expansion for works that are unpublished (e.g., archival photos with no extant record of publication). My understanding is that they would be life+70, but what if the author is unknown? Creation+120? What if the creation date is unknown? 120 from the estimate? What about the whole not before 2047 part in the chart? czar 08:02, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

If the author and the creation year both are unknown, then it's still 120 years from creation. You seem to be making the mistake of assuming that a year of copyright expiration always can be determined, although it may in some cases be impossible to determine the correct year of expiration. In some cases, there may be information in the work which gives you some guidance on when the work was created. For example, if the work is a photograph which shows a building, then you might be able to find out that the building was constructed in 1899 and demolished in 1950. In that case, you have shown that the work was created less than 120 years ago, although the exact year of creation is unknown. Note that a court does not need to identify the exact copyright expiration date of a work. A court only needs to determine if the copyright was violated, and for that, it is enough to determine if the copyright had expired as of the point when the material was used. For example, let's assume that a work was published on 1 January 2016 without permission from the person who claims to be the copyright holder. There are then three options:
  1. The year of creation is unknown, but it can be shown that the work was created less than 120 years ago → the court rules that the work was copyrighted on 1 January 2016.
  2. The year of creation is unknown, but it can be shown that the work was created more than 120 years before 1 January 2016 → the court rules that the work wasn't copyrighted on 1 January 2016.
  3. The year of creation is unknown and it can't be determined if the work was created more than 120 years before 1 January 2016 → the outcome depends on the burden of proof, I presume. If the user of the material is required to prove that the material was created more than 120 years ago, then the court would probably fine the user of the material. On the other hand, if the rights holder is required to prove that the material was created less than 120 years ago, then the person using the material wouldn't be fined. The burden of proof can vary in copyright cases, and I don't know how a court would determine a case like this. For example, if the user of the material claims that he has a permission to use the material, then he would typically have to prove that this permission was granted, which can be impossible if the evidence is confidential or if it depends on a dead link or a website which has been modified. If such evidence can't be presented, then the court would typically accept a claim from the rights holder that the material was used without permission. On the other hand, if it is disputed that the rights holder is the rights holder, then the rights holder would typically have to provide evidence that he is the rights holder, and a court would typically rule that this person has no right to compensation if he isn't able to prove this. Also, if evidence is unavailable for some court ruling A, but evidence becomes available in time for some other court ruling B, then court ruling B would probably follow situation 1 or 2 above regardless of the outcome of court ruling A.
The "before 2047" part in the chart comes from an error that Britain originally made in the s:Copyright Act 1709 and which the Americans imported as the s:Copyright Act of 1790. According to the Copyright Act 1709, the copyright to a work would expire at the latest 28 years after the work was first published, but the 18th century Britons failed to realise that it is useful if the copyright to unpublished material also expires at some point, so unpublished works were given a perpetual copyright term. This mistake has since been haunting the copyright laws of Britain and many former British colonies and has been fixed in some but not all affected countries. In the United States, it was fixed in the s:Copyright Act of 1976 by introducing the 70 years p.m.a. and 120 years from creation rules. However, as compensation to the rights holders of old unpublished works, USA decided that all unpublished works would remain copyrighted until the end of 2002 (or until the expiration of the 70/120 year term, whichever was later). If an old work became published between 1978 and 2002, the 2002 limit would be extended to the end of 2047. --Stefan2 (talk) 13:56, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
@Stefan2, thanks, but wouldn't it be worth clarifying the U.S. section along these lines? Question about #1: copyrighted on 2016-01-01 by whom? (If the original author is dead, it would be posthumously copyrighted until 70 p.m.a.?) czar 16:49, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
By default, the original copyright holder is the author, or the author's employer if it is a work for hire. The copyright may then be transferred to other people. If the copyright at some point is held by a person, and that person dies, then the copyright ends up in the hands of that person's heirs.
Theoretically, a work always has a copyright holder, and the work's copyright always has an expiration date. Practically, it may be impossible to determine who the copyright holder is, and it may be impossible to determine if the copyright's expiration date is in the past or in the future. This is nothing specifically related to copyright; the entire legal system has this problem. For example, let's say that someone robs a bank. There is always a robber, and the law says that the robber should be sent to prison, but it is sometimes impossible to identify the robber, and in those cases, it is impossible to send the robber to prison. The legal system has ways to handle problems like this. With respect to copyright, it means that courts sometimes rule in favour of the person claiming to be the copyright holder, and sometimes in favour of the person who used the work. The fact that a court makes a certain ruling does not necessarily mean that the court has correctly identified the copyright status of the work, and the outcome can differ depending on what evidence the court has access to.
For example, assume that some theoretical person A uses a work. Some other theoretical person X claims to be the copyright holder to the work and sues person A for violation of copyright. However, person X is unable to provide evidence that he is the copyright holder, so the court rejects person X's claims, and person A does not need to pay compensation to person X. Next year, some other theoretical person B uses the work a second time. Person X has now searches through his drawers and finds some previously unknown documents. Person X sues person B and submits the documents to the court. The court looks at the documents and finds that there is now sufficient evidence that person X is the copyright holder, and so person B has to pay compensation to person X.
The same is true about copyright expiration. For example, let's assume that the case Person X v. Person A was a dispute about whether the copyright had expired. Evidence was unavailable, so the court ruled in one way, not sure which one. In the second case Person X v. Person B, such evidence had become available, and so the court might rule in the other way. --Stefan2 (talk) 21:06, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Stefan, you say, "theoretically, a work always has a copyright holder...." I don't think that's not strictly true. If the work is a work for hire and the employer is a corporation which closes its doors, then there are three possibilities. (1) There are no significant assets, so nothing is done about them; that is, there is no auction of other formal windup; (2) there is an auction, but only physical assets are sold -- the corporation's IP is not included as one of the lots sold; or (3) there is an auction and either a single buyer buys all the assets of the corporation or the IP is explicitly sold as one of the lots. In cases (1) and (2), any copyrights held by the corporation no longer have an owner. I have a lot of experience with corporate deaths and I would say that for smaller corporations -- less than 50 or 100 employees -- (1) or (2) is the case 95% of the time. I also wonder about a case where the creator died intestate and without any close relatives -- no spouse or children and parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all single children and all dead.
As far as the first part of this thread goes, I don't see how there's a problem. If the author is unknown, then there is no one with standing to bring suit. Anyone claiming to be the copyright holder must prove a relationship (by kinship or contract) with the author, which means that the author cannot be unknown. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 17:49, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
If someone dies intestate without relatives to inherit, then the state claims it all. Even in the US, the government can administrate copyrights it owns even if it can't create them. I'm sure the case of a corporation folding has laws and case law to cover it; if a corporation folds with material property, like a copyright, and at some point it turns out to have value, an ensuing court case would either declare it the property of the corporate owners or the creditors. I'm sure if a corporation folds and at some point later it turned out to have stashed a painting in a bank vault that's now worth millions, it's not going to be ownerless. The fact that a copyright may have insufficient value for a court case is explicitly something we can't consider.
If the author is unknown to us, or even with a complete and total search of all publically available records, that does not mean that no one can prove ownership. There's a hairy mess of contract law, but I'm pretty sure that publishers can frequently sue for copyright infringement, even if the appropriate contracts have been destroyed, and it's not at all unlikely they can prove to the court's satisfaction that they own (or have exclusive license to) the copyright.--Prosfilaes (talk) 01:11, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Should we merge and redirect en:Wikipedia:Non-U.S. copyrights here?[edit]

Those articles seem to be more or less about the same... any thoughts on this? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 06:14, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

w:WP:NUSC is a lot about COM:URAA, Commons:Subsisting copyright and copyright rules as of 1996, so the pages currently contain partially different information. --Stefan2 (talk) 08:05, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
Exactly: they are already partially duplicating one another. I think we would benefit from one page on the subject, not two. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 09:22, 31 May 2016 (UTC)


Our section on Syria seems to be wrong; w:Copyright Law of Syria says they've signed the Berne Convention, and have corresponding life+50 laws. Do we have anyone who reads Arabic who can figure out exactly what the rules are?--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:20, 4 November 2016 (UTC) seems to be the most current law. As I said, anyone read Arabic?--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:33, 4 November 2016 (UTC)


I have read and searched through the 2002 law found in English at I find no support for the assertion on the project page that copyright for Egyptian photographs lasts only 25 years. A search on "photo" yields only the mention in the list of works that have copyright. A search on "25" yields a limitation on the term for applied arts, but photographs are not applied arts, they are listed separately.

The general copyright term is pma 50 and I think we should change the project page to that. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 10:44, 18 November 2016 (UTC)

Latest WIPO study on exceptions[edit]

1000 pages on 1723 exceptions for education in 188 states: --Nemo 14:55, 28 November 2016 (UTC)