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A quick guide to what copyright templates to use, and the copyright status of Polish works, with the focus on what is public domain both in the USA and in Poland (an image may be in public domain in only one of those two jurisdictions, and if this is the case, it cannot be hosted in Commons).

Note 1: A Poland-related image needs two public domain templates: one to explain it's copyright status in Poland, the other one in United States. See Commons:Copyright_tags#Non-U.S._works
Note 2: The date 1946 should be read as 1st January 1946, and is relevant to the year this sentence has been last updated (2016). In 2017, it will be 1947, and so on.
Note 3: Poland has freedom of panorama subject to minor exceptions ({{FoP-Poland}}).

What copyright templates to use:

  • works by Polish artists with pma (post mortem auctoris - after the author's death) before 1946 published in Poland before 1923: {{PD-old-70}} or {{PD-Art|1=PD-old-70}} (for photos of 2d art) and {{PD-1923}}, or {{PD-old-auto-1923|1=}} with the 1= parameter being the date of death of an artist
  • works by Polish artists with pma before 1946 published in Poland before 1946: {{PD-old-70}} or {{PD-Art|1=PD-old-70}} (for photos of 2d art) and {{PD-1996}} or {{PD-Art|PD-old-auto-1996|country=Poland|date=1996|reason=|deathyear=}}
  • works by presumably Polish anonymous artists published in Poland before 1946: {{PD-anon-70-EU}} and {{PD-1996}}, plus {{PD-Art|1=PD-old-auto-1996|country=Poland|date=}} (for photos of 2d art), with date parameter being (I think?) the data the work was published
  • works whose economic rights have are owned not by the author but by another party (i.e. works for hire): treat like published by a person, see paragraph on works for hire below for rationale. Yes, the wording on some templates refers to the author and maybe it should say author or copyright holder, but wording doesn't change the fact of being in PD or not.
  • photographs published before 1994 by Polish photographers (or published for the first time in Poland or simultaneously in Poland and abroad), without a clear copyright notice: {{PD-Polish}}
  • official documents, materials, signs and symbols (published as acts, laws, their parts and similar) : {{PD-Polishsymbol}} (note: unlike in USA, not every work of the official administrative institutions and other governmental agencies is PD).

What is not PD in Wikimedia Commons: any works by Polish artists who died after 1946, as they are not covered by {{PD-old-70}}/{{PD-art}}, subject to exceptions due to specifics of Polish Copyright Law in particular {{PD-Polish}} (for some pre-1994 photographs) and {{PD-Polishsymbol}} (for government symbols). 1946 and later works were restored in the U.S. by the URAA, and (if published 1923 or later) will have a term of 95 years from publication regardless of when the author died. (It's only works published 1978 or later which have a U.S. term based on the author's life dates, which is rarely relevant). So, 1946-and-later anonymous works are protected for 70 years in Poland and 95 years in the United States.

How was the above arrived at: look at Commons:Hirtle_chart, section "Works First Published Outside the U.S. by Foreign Nationals or U.S. Citizens Living Abroad. On Commons these cases also need to be free according to copyright terms in the country of publication." (The latter is covered by {{Anonymous-EU}} for up to 1941). The next step is "1923 through 1977: Published without compliance with US formalities, and in the public domain in its source country as of URAA date; 1 January 1996 for most countries." This sends us to w:Wikipedia:Non-U.S._copyrights#endnote_tab_poland, which states "Poland extended its copyright term to 50 years p.m.a. on May 23, 1994, and then to 70 years on January 1, 2003. This means that on the URAA date of January 1, 1996, the shorter term of 50 years was still valid", which is how you get the 1946 date. The following sentence "However, some of these works then became re-copyrighted in 2003 within Poland (and later the European Union" explains why the works from 1943-1946 were now copyrighted in Poland/EU (hence, {{Anonymous-EU}} comes into play again).

For works for hire, where it is not the author but another party that owns copyright, the duration is 70 years from works publication or creation, see Polish Copyright Law Art. 36 exception 3 ("if, under this Act, a person other than the author owns the author's economic rights -from the date of the dissemination of the work; and if the work has not been disseminated -from the date of the establishment thereof"). Also, from w:Work_for_hire#Copyright_duration: "In the European Union... the duration of protection is in general the same as the copyright term for a personal copyright: i.e., for a literary or artistic work, 70 years from the death of the human author, or in the case of works of joint authorship, 70 years from the death of the last surviving author. If the natural author or authors are not identified, nor become known subsequently, then the copyright term is the same as that for an anonymous or pseudonymous work, i.e. 70 years from publication for a literary or artistic work; or, if the work has not been published in that time, 70 years from creation. (Article 1, Directive harmonizing the term of copyright protection, Directive 93/98/EC.</ref> (Copyright durations for works created before 1993 may be subject to transitional arrangements)."

In summary: majority of works by Polish authors who died before 1946 are in public domain in EU/US, thus we can say that "almost all works by Polish authors who died before 1946, and all anonymous work published in Poland before 1946, is in public domain". Following exceptions apply:

  1. ) it's possible for works for Polish authors who died before 1946 to still be copyrighted, if the works were published posthumously 1946 or later (see Polish Copyright Law, Art 36., exception 2: "if the author of a work is unknown -from the date of the first dissemination of the work").
  2. ) Also, for some individuals who died during World War II, but whose exact date of death is not known, Polish law set the date 9 May 1946 as their legal date of death; thus for example works of Janusz Korczak who died in August 1942 (exact date of death unknown) were copyrighted till 2017 (1 January of the first year after legal date of death, +70 years), through that was particular case was recently overruled; in either way this becomes moot by 2017.
  3. )It is *possible* that Polish works did conform to all U.S. formalities (copyright notice and copyright renewal 28 years after publication), and thus didn't need URAA restoration since their copyright was never lost, but that is very rare outside of books.

Finally, note that a lot of images rely on Template:PD-Polish. This can occasionally be overturned when a copyright notice can be found. See case study at Commons:Deletion requests/File:Okragly Stol 1989.jpg (2nd discussion).

In case the rights are inherited: {{PD-heirs}}

See also: {{PolishSenateCopyright}}, {{PolishPresidentCopyright}}, Category:Templates related to Poland (should contain all copyright templates related to Poland), Commons:Copyright_rules_by_territory_-_full#Poland, Commons:Freedom_of_panorama#Poland ({{FoP-Poland}})

Outstanding issues: please see the talk page.