My aim is to diminish the amount of copyright violations in the material concerning Estonia. Currently, there are loads of pictures of copyrighted works on Commons. These should be cleaned up.
- There is no Freedom of Panorama (FOP) in Estonia.
- It is permitted to use photos of public art (incl. buildings) for non-commercial purposes but one of the major policies in Commons is that all images must be usable for both non-commercial and commercial purposes. Therefore, this permission is not valid for Commons.
- Under Estonian current copyright laws, logos are copyrighted. So are stamps, money (coins and bills) and many other things that might not be copyrighted in some other countries. The stamps, bills, etc of U.S.S.R. are free to use because Russian Federation as the descendant of Soviet Union has deemed so. Still, this does not count for the Estonian Republic in 1918-40.
- Under EU laws, works of art reach public domain if the author has been dead for 70 years or more (counted on Jan 1 each year). Many buildings, paintings or photos that seem to be old are actually still under copyright; a photograph made before the establishment of Estonian Republic in 1918 might still be under copyright if the author was young enough to be alive in 1944.
- One remarkable example is the house of Estonian National Opera. It was originally designed by two architects, one of whom (Wivi Lönn) died in 1966. Most of the building was destroyed in the war and it was not restored according to the original project afterwards, so both the pre-war and modern pictures are of a copyrighted building. It is theoretically possible that all the architect left the copyright to the Estonian National Opera but it is highly improbable and should be proven, otherwise their permission to use the photos just does not count. (Also, it is not even quite clear whether the current organization managing the Opera is legally a descendant of both the Soviet and pre-WWII Estonian orgnizations.)
- There are exceptions made in Commons on the basis of de minimis principle or because of the lack of originality in a work. These are somewhat questionable and it is not clear to which extent these principles can be applied under Estonian laws.
- There are no exceptions for orphaned works in Estonian copyright laws. Hence, it is not an argument if someone says they haven't been able to find an author. If you claim a work is free, you have to prove it. Someone "presumed dead" is not dead legally unless proclaimed to be so by the court.
- There is a clause saying that the rights of a work made by someone receiving pay for exactly such tasks belong to the hiring organisation. It is not clear who exactly would be the owner of rights if the work was made in a time when nobody considered copyright in such terms, e.g. in the Soviet Union. In many cases, modern organizations claim to be the descendants of Soviet time or pre-WWII organizations, and such claims are rarely contested in court. If the copyright of a work belongs to an organization, it rarely comes into public domain. (Also, it is not clear how this clause matches the one saying that the personal (non-monetary) rights of an author are unalienable.)
- In many cases, people say they publish a work under free license while they are not the authors. Such cases should be clarified, in most cases - deleted.
- If a picture comes from your family album, it does not mean you have the copyright. The photographer does. If your grandfather is on a picture, it is quite unlikely he made it (although not impossible).
- The most common arguments on Commons for not believing copyright would be relevant for an image are de minimis principle and the originality clause. By and large, both of these are valid in Estonian copyright system, but there are some buts.
- The originality clause is not used very widely in legal cases in Estonia, and it is not explained in length in the law. Different countries phrase and interpret this kind of clauses quite differently, so the practice used in, say, U.S. wouldn't be applicable easily. As the legal definition is vague and it has also not been specified by court practice, I would be wary to rely on it in case of monuments etc. (It has been widely accepted for Soviet-time apartment buildings, but even in that case it is not clear how many modifications could be done on a typical massively used project before it becomes an individual one.)
- In Estonian copyright law, de minimis is not exactly defined in the terms that people in the Anglo-Saxon countries are used to. It is said that copyright is applicable if a copyrighted work is depicted as the main motif of the secondary work. But the question whether something is a main motif or not does not solely depend on the mechanically measurable percentage of the area of the picture. If you claim that something is not the main motif of a picture while this is the most recognisable individual feature on the picture, the picture is named after the feature, and the whole picture clearly wouldn't even be on Commons without that singular feature because the picture's only purpose is to show it - then your claim just makes you look silly and you would probably fail a lie detector test because you don't really believe it yourself.
- It is amazing that some people really seem to think that they are above the law if they have enough megapixels. I think that is one the most ridiculous arguments about copyright I have ever heard (and there's a lot of funny ones around).
- One last notice about argumentum ad hominem: it is really not important who says that a picture on Commons violates copyright. It either does or it doesn't. It's not like if we do not like a law we do not have to follow it, or we only must follow the laws if someone very important (Jimmy Wales, and admin or a Wikimedia contributor for ten years) says so. If something is a copyright violation and we want to keep it, we can a) campaign for changing the law, or b) ask a written permission from the copyright owner. Often, a makes sense, but b is the easiest way. Ranting that you are too lazy for both, so you don't have to follow the law, is actually not an option. And it is not important who says it, even if they have uploaded no photos or are completely blind.