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There is a website called which is a Hungarian collection of digitized images, available without access limits on their website.

Hungarian Wikipedia (and the related parts on Commons) have an ongoing trouble with imagery from this source. Since it's basically Hungarian only lots of people don't understand why we speedy delete lots of images copied from a site using CC BY-SA license.

The site was created by a few people finding a large collection of old photographs in the trashbins. They have started digitize them and put them online. As time have passed they were able to became pretty known for digitizing and hosting old paper and negative photographs and people started offering old photos to them, found on the attic of the house to be demolished, collected from the archives of a company building to be destroyed, images half-burnt in a fire, etc. They have collected, digitised and metadata-enriched an enormous amount of old imagery. It's truly an amazing and wonderful project.

We all know that todays copyright laws are seriously fucked. Unfortunately for Commons to stay on the legal side we have to follow this fuckery and be anal about it, until such times when we come up with a better system, or a revolution, or whatever is required to make a copyright reform.

So majority of the imagery was found in bins or donated by third parties. They usually have zero knowledge about the authors, about the year of the creation, about the legal background of the authorship (whether it was created working for a company, or the state-party). Hungarian laws do not allow unknown authors' works to be used just freely, you have to start an unbelievably convoluted and extremely costly process for each and every one, which possibly nobody ever did. Without that, however, the images fall under copyright.

  • Many images are obviously old enough to be assumed not to be under copyright anymore (PMA+70, we usually kind of accept anything which is more than 100 years old). These fit to be included in Commons, as PD.
  • Many images do have known source, and the copyright holder allowed (usually in extremely vague verbal terms) the images to be used for whatever reason, or the original copyright holder company was disappeared without legal child; these fit into Commons, too, and even if we do know that the author did not specify a license we may pick one based on their intentions.

However there are a few problematic categories.

  • Images donated by random people or entities, not related to the author and most often even the owner of the image. They cannot give permission, and fortepan don't acquire the right to do that either. Slapping cc_by-sa on random images is not valid.
  • Physical images [often magazines, newpapers,...] from their owner but not authorized by its publisher, author or alike. Sometimes these include non-public images (leaked from the closed-distribution or from the publisher). Often the source is gone but they have a legal successor company which still exists today. Often the authors are known (or could be traced) and sometimes even alive. These are definitely problematic, to put it nicely.

The project don't say that they possess the legal right to release these images. They don't say that they don't, either. They once said that they are aware that the for some images they do not have the right to publish but they feel doing it serves the greater purpose. This kind of conflicts with the purpose of Commons, which want to serve the greater purpose while not breaking current law.

External comments[edit]

If you have any disagreement of the above, or further info you want to share, feel free to do it below. I may trim, edit, incorporate or delete your changes, however (even if I try not to, I reserve the right, don't be offended). --grin 12:35, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

Pinging @Pallerti, @Tuvalkin, @, they may be interested since they were involved in mass uploads. --grin 20:28, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

We use 120 years as a cut-off for works from a PMA+70 country with unknown author, not 100 years. You can use {{PD-old-assumed}} for such files. Jcb (talk) 08:29, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
Deletion discussion opened at Commons:Deletion requests/Photos from Magyar Rendőr (in case anyone else is following this page and not that one). --Closeapple (talk) 01:34, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
It is clear that Fortepan is perpetrating copyfraud on a massive scale. There are currently 69,164 transclusions of Template:Fortepan, none of which have believable licenses. I could nominate them en masse, but ~riley would have my head.   — Jeff G. ツ 14:33, 6 June 2017 (UTC)
I see Jeff has made the same comment in more than one place. I disagree, see my reply at Commons:Batch_uploading/Fortepan.HU#Opinions. I was aware of uncertainty in copyright before my second tranche of uploads, hence the limiting of uploads to those which have a clear PD rationale, based on date and anonymity. (talk) 15:50, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

As an addendum I'd like to mention that Fortepan owner (Miklos Tamasi) repeatedly "commanded" Wikipedians not to contact them and not to ask or request info on their license, because they are "very annoyed" by these requests ("the license is on the webpage, visibly readable"); additionally they "forbid" Wikipedians to look up original authors and contact them; and they request either that Wikipedia accept "their license" or stop using their images. At the same time he said (on a specific case) that "the heir of the author is the fan of the free distribution"; while the same time the author's name was listed on the common royalty collector agency's webpage as "author with unknonw heir whose collected fees were not possible to pay out", so the author in question was still active in the governmental royalty collection process, and royalty was indeed collected. Also in the same thread another Wikipedian found out that lots of imagery was claimed to be sold to a museum. It seems that the reliability of the statements of Fortepan is questionable at best. --grin 10:42, 10 August 2018 (UTC)