Commons:Village pump/Copyright

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Welcome to the Village pump copyright section

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URAA revisited in 2019[edit]

In the context of restoring files newly in the PD at the beginning of this year, there was some discussion about the restoration of files now in the public domain in their country of origin (like the Netherlands, Germany or other countries with a protection term of 70 years after the creator's death), but still protected in the USA for several (up to 25) more years because of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).

Some were in favor of restoring them, others (me among them) for waiting with the restoration until the files are free in the USA as well, as it is still Commons policy to only host files that are free both in their country of origin and the USA (Commons:URAA-restored copyrights: "If the end result of copyright evaluation is that there is significant doubt about the freedom of a file under US or local law, the file must be deleted in line with the precautionary principle.")


A timeline:

URAA timeline
Current situation

I hope I've included all relevant events in the timeline. My conclusion is that regarding files affected by the URAA, we have a mess on our hands, and this has been the case for years. The WMF basically says that we should respect US law and delete infringing files, but the WMF itself will only act when forced to (like by a takedown request), else it will look the other way. The German wikipedia has hosted files affected by the URAA (but PD in Germany etc.) for years without any problem from the WMF as far as I know.

Meanwhile on Commons, there's a bit of a confusion. Some argue in favor of deleting/not restoring URAA affected content, others argue to more or less ignore the URAA. Users are constantly uploading new files still protected in the USA because of the URAA, some tagging them with {{Not-PD-US-URAA}}, which says the template shouldn't be used for newly uploaded files.

I filed several deletion requests for such URAA-affected files (PD in their country of origin, but still protected in the USA), which wasn't received well by some users at the German wikipedia and here. Several of the files were uploaded recently, so they are not remnants from the years before 2012 when many users basically thought the URAA would be struck down by the US Supreme Court.

One of those requests, Commons:Deletion requests/Files in Category:Hugo Erfurth, was closed by Jcb as "Keep" with the rationale "see COM:DIU - the hypothetical copyright in US is only imaginary. In line with the WMF point of view, the vast majority of admins does not delete files for this reason."


  • despite the (later) outcome of Commons:Review of Precautionary principle which concluded that there is no community agreement to host files affected by the URAA (on Commons).
  • Despite the fact that the WMF has actually said that infringing content should be removed (but it would only act when being forced to).
  • And despite the fact that the URAA is enforced by US courts (thanks to User:Clindberg for these examples, originally from here):
    • Toho v. Priority Records: This was on some Godzilla stuff. There was some infringement of some sound recordings which did not need to be restored in the first place, but there was additional infringement of a restored musical composition copyright as well.
    • Toho v. William Morrow: More Godzilla; the films never lost copyright (and the character was infringed), additionally some publicity stuff was ruled to be restored, and also infringed.
    • Troll Co. v Uneeda Doll Co.: This was on some troll dolls which lost their U.S. copyright due to lack of notice (1965 case ruling), but then got restored. The restoration was not being contested, but was more about if the defendant was a "reliance party" (they were not).
    • Dam Things from Denmark v Russ Berrie Co.: This is on the same troll dolls; the dolls were restored but the case was remanded to a lower court because they did not properly evaluate the derivative works status in regards to being a "reliance party".
    • Peliculas Y Videos Internacionales v. Harriscope of L.A.: This was on some Mexican films which got restored. The ruling was again more based on whether the defendant was a reliance party (they were for 22 of the 29 films).
    • Alameda et al v. Authors Rights Restoration Corporation et al: More Mexican films; the District Court ruled infringement on 81 of 88 films. The appeal addressed the remaining seven; they were ruled PD in Mexico in 1996 (by virtue of being produced before January 1948 and thus PD in Mexico due to failure to comply with Mexico's own registration requirements at the time), and thus ineligible for restoration. The infringement of the 81 others was upheld.
    • Elkan v. Hasbro: This was on the Stratego board game. It was ruled simultaneously published in the U.S. and Canada, and thus not eligible for restoration.
How to proceed?

So how should we proceed? As I see it, there are three options:

  • 1) Do nothing. Not the preferable course of action in my opinion, the confusion would continue.
  • 2) Delete files that are still protected in the USA because of the URAA, despite being in the PD in their country of origin.
    • Advantages: Compliance with US law, which is mandatory for Commons because of the ties of the WMF to the USA. Protection of content re-users in the US from potential legal trouble when re-using content not PD in the USA.
    • Disadvantages: Not giving users outside the US (that includes various wikipedias) files which are PD in their respective source countries. Angry users from those countries.
  • 3) Allow files that are still protected in the USA because of the URAA, despite being in the PD in their country of origin.
    • Advantages: Giving users outside the US (that includes various wikipedias) files which are PD in their respective source countries. Happy users from those countries.
    • Disadvantages: Non-compliance with US law, which is mandatory for Commons because of the ties of the WMF to the USA. Potentially exposing content re-users in the US to legal trouble when re-using content not PD in the USA. Files could still be deleted when the WMF is forced to act because of a takedown request or similar.

There's probably a million more things to say, but I'll stop here, this is already long enough. Thoughts, additions, proposals? --Rosenzweig τ 14:24, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

Comparing your 3 options with m:United States non-acceptance of the rule of the shorter term#Statement from Wikimedia Foundation, your option 2 resembles hard enforcement and your options 1 and 3 partially resemble no active enforcement. Similar to Chinese Wikisource, I would like to modify your option to better resemble no active enforcement by negatively allowing (not positively encouraging) affected works only with some conditions:
  1. Tag Template:Not-PD-US-URAA as amended to warn that hosting these files is only provisional, subject to copyright holders demanding taking down with no permission.
  2. If copyright holders openly allow us to host the files with permission not compatible with CC BY-SA 3.0 and GFDL, like allowing Wikimedia to host but not commercial, derivative, or subsequent usage, then allow them here only when properly tagged.--Jusjih (talk) 04:34, 15 June 2019 (UTC)
I Symbol support vote.svg Support the no active enforcement option from m:United States non-acceptance of the rule of the shorter term#Statement from Wikimedia Foundation. It will allow Wikimedia Commons, which is an international project, to host files either in public domain in US or country of origin, unless the copyright holder ask it not to.--維基小霸王 (talk) 15:03, 19 November 2019 (UTC)


Another option: Move the servers to a more friendly country, where such massive deletion of free information is not necessary. All this extreme anglocentrism of this project is here again detrimental to our goal of free and open information. This pictures are only in one country not usable, so there should be made provisions by the WMF to comply somehow for this single country without restricting the whole wikiverse. The WMF has more then enough money and personal ressources to cater for that, it's their core task to do so. Information destruction for 98% of the wikiverse should not be an option. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 14:43, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

That has been discussed at length before. Bottom line of the discussions: You would (perhaps) solve one problem, but create others instead, because you most likely couldn't host files that are free in the US (but not elsewhere) on such servers in another country. --Rosenzweig τ 14:48, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
And? Why should this single country get a special treatment? Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 14:51, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Probably because the Wikimedia Foundation is based in the USA and a substantial portion of the users of the Wikimedia projects are from there too. --Rosenzweig τ 15:01, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
So move it to another country, it should not be that difficult for an international enterprise to move around to more friendly countries. A move would not implicate a move of employees as well, but I expect the vast majority of those will work somewhere around the world anyway, at least if the WMF really gives anything about the proclaimed diversity, and those are not just meaningless words. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 15:30, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
That would help nothing most likely -- the WMF is a U.S. institution, so we are directly subject to U.S. laws either way. We can't exactly tell the WMF to go move countries. And that would probably create a lot more problems then it solves -- it could just mean there is a third country we'd have to respect the copyright laws fully. This type of suggestion is really not anywhere close to being reasonable. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:06, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
MaW: Mir geht Fair Use am Allerwertesten vorbei, wenn Durch damit tatsächlich freie Inhalte gelöscht werden sollten. Fair Use, sprich die wissentliche und willentliche Missachtung von Lizenzen aus recht egoistischen Motiven, hat deutlich weniger Wert als ein möglichst umfangreiches Portfolio an wirklich freien, und tatsächlich fair zu benutzenden Inhalten. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 14:57, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
This is not about fair use. Fair use files are not allowed on Commons at all. It's about content that is in the public domain in the USA. --Rosenzweig τ 15:01, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

The whole point of international copyright conventions is that countries are respecting the copyright of works from other countries. For works where the copyright has expired in their country of origin, there is no point in claiming some imaginary copyright in the US. That's why I, together with the vast majority of admins and in line with the WMF point of view, do not delete such files. Jcb (talk) 14:58, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

The US copyright is not imaginary, it's real. And the WMF point of view is that we should delete files that infringe on US law. BTW, how do you quantify "the vast majority of admins"? --Rosenzweig τ 15:03, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
U.S. copyright law is not imaginary. The URAA restorations are just as real as the EU restorations which happened at the same time. Should we respect those? It would be nice to just decide to use, say, UK law from 1990 rather than what the courts would use today. But we generally don't do that. If we want to change policy to only use copyright in the country of origin, while deleting anything which a DMCA request happens and/or a deletion request from the copyright owners, then that would be a valid discussion. But as long as policy is to use U.S. law, that includes the URAA. We could also just as easily decide to use U.S. law alone, meaning anything published before 1924 is fair game, rather than having to do research on authors and delete an extra 25 years worth of stuff when we can't find a death date, which would be much easier to explain. I tend to agree when it comes to knowing whether it was actually published or not it can get tortuous, and I would not delete on those grounds unless there was specific evidence something was not published until much later -- that would be an "ambiguous" situation the WMF was angling to keep. But the URAA is not imaginary nor easily separable from the rest of U.S. law -- it is the law. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:06, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Hi, Thanks for starting this discussion. Seeing WMF position, and that the legal risk is very low, I think that we should change our policy to allow URAA-affected files. We should allow files which are in the public domain world wide, except in the USA. Regards, Yann (talk) 15:20, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

"In the public domain world wide" could become problematic in a few years. Accd. to en:Rule of the shorter term#Worldwide situation, Mexico with its 100 years pma term (the currrently longest such term AFAIK) does not apply the rule of the shorter term. If I understand Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Mexico correctly, the Mexican 100 years pma term starts to take effect for works of all authors who died in 1952 or later, so instead of allowing such works in 2023 (or up to 25 years later, depending on year of publication, if respecting the US copyright), we'd have to wait until 2053 if we really wanted "in the public domain world wide". --Rosenzweig τ 15:56, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
OK, so Mexico and Côte d'Ivoire are the countries with a copyright term longer than 70 years which do not use the rule of the shorter term. This would be a clear limited exception. Regards, Yann (talk) 16:37, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
You mean do _not_ use the rule of the shorter term I guess? And Côte d'Ivoire actually went back to 70 years pma in 2016 accd. to Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Côte d'Ivoire, which would mean File:World copyright-terms nokey.svg is outdated. --Rosenzweig τ 16:45, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, right. So it would be an exception for 2 countries only. Regards, Yann (talk) 16:58, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
I believe Colombia is 80pma with no rule of the shorter term. That is likely the longest actual term right now -- both Mexico and Cote d'Ivoire were non-retroactive increases. Mexico was 30pma until 1982, and their increases have been non-retroactive, so they are effectively 66pma now (increasing by one each year). Plus they had a registration requirement before 1948, which is probably impossible to research but most stuff before then is probably PD in fact. Similarly, I think the Ivory Coast went from 50pma to 99pma non-retroactively in 2004 or so. And for Spain, while they use the rule of the shorter term, I think the rest of the EU would respect the 80pma for their stuff. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:14, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
I'm not a fan. It's treating life+70 as the one true rule, where it's not. If we're going to ignore the US law, why are we going to pay attention to EU law for Canadian, Indian or Japanese works?--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:23, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

If a file is PD in Germany (for example) but not in the US, it would be possible to upload it locally to de.wp, de.wikt, nl.wp, so that it can be used in WM projects, that while they can be accessed from the US are not meant to be accessed from the US (but because of the language from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway, ...). If this is the case, then how about creating a site, that cannot directly be accessed by users, but is added with the instant-commons extension to de.wp, de.wikt and so on? --C.Suthorn (talk) 15:32, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

This shadow-commons should for those countries with such restrictive laws, like the US. Commons is for the whole Wikiverse and thus has the duty to serve all the Wikiverse with free content. If a single country differs, a shadow-commons should be created for this single country, not the whole Wikiverse. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 15:35, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
All the proposals about moving the servers, establishing additional servers for affected files etc. are rather pointless IMO unless it is clear that the WMF (or someone else with the WMF being okay with it) is actually prepared to do it. Accd. to m:Legal/Wikimedia Server Location and Free Knowledge, the WMF isn't really willing to do it. At least they were not 5 years ago. --Rosenzweig τ 16:04, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, and that would not help Wikipedias which do not allow local uploads, i.e. Spanish Wikipedia which serves all of South America except Brazil. Regards, Yann (talk) 16:13, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
I do not think it would be a problem, if (one or more because of different copyright-realms) shadow sites was physically located in the US, if it only delivers its contents to specific WM-sites that address a chosen copyright-realm. Also the instant-commons extension was made to avoid local uploads (therefore no problem with spanish or other sites). I do not know, if instant-commons supports one or more image-sites, but it should. Then, if the qqx.wp-site wants to show the example.jpg file in an article, it would look for said image in commons, then if not found in shadows1, then shadows2, then locally. As far as I know, WMF has backup datacenters (proxies) outside the US, so if all else fails, a shadow site could be located in one of those. Five years ago the US government was all for freedom of information, today the focus of the US government is more with the car industry and coal mining, eyeing the internet more of a threat that might need to be regulated and gated, maybe in a way that conflicts with the way WM works. --C.Suthorn (talk) 16:31, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Correct me if I'm wrong please, but my understanding is that is special since it's actually hosted in Germany, correct? GMGtalk 16:21, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
To my knowledge, de.wp is hosted along with all other Wikimedia sites in the US. There are some cache servers in the Netherlands and Singapore accd. to m:Wikimedia servers. --Rosenzweig τ 16:38, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, this is what I'm being told on IRC also. They have servers (? I dunno, I'm not tech savvy) in the Netherlands that route traffic to the actual host location in the US. So they didn't decide as a legal matter that they were going to host files locally according to German, Austrian, and Swiss law, they just did it as a matter of local policy. GMGtalk 16:40, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I will read the whole text above later, but here's how it is in my never too humble opinion:
  • Stop being overly worried about the WMF. The WMF has only one legal responsibility: deal with DMCA takedown requests. Nothing else. PD-US is not required.
  • To host a file on Commons, some rationale to host it in the US is required. This doesn't require a free license, any fair use rationale will work. "I can get away with it" and "the copyright holder won't care!" are also valid rationales.
  • You know who is legally responsible for files uploaded to Commons? You are! The uploader. You didn't know? Well now you do.
  • We don't give a shit about files being PD in the US or not. We somehow assume German FoP magically also applies to the US, which it doesn't, and this occasionally results in DMCA takedown requests which are honored by the WMF. In case of costumes, the Commons community has flat out given WMF legal the finger.
Long story short, I support undeletion for files that are PD in their source country and have any rationale (including "we can get away with it!") to host them in the US. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 16:22, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
i think it is great, that you want to re-open the URAA can of worms. keep in mind this is the consensus currently: "URAA cannot be used as the sole reason for deletion."[1] per m:Legal/URAA Statement. but i see there is a continuing movement among a minority to flout the consensus. i look forward to the migration to German servers, and the subsequent mass deletion of swastikas. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 17:11, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Slowking4: see Commons:Licensing#Interaction of US and non-US copyright law:

"If material that has been saved from a third-party website is uploaded to Commons, the copyright laws of the U.S., the country of residence of the uploader, and the country of location of the web servers of the website apply. Thus, any licence to use the material should apply in all relevant jurisdictions; if the material is in the public domain, it must normally be in the public domain in all these jurisdictions (plus in the country of origin of the work) for it to be allowable on Commons."

This text is flawed: "the country of location of the web servers of the website" is nothing but repeating "the U.S." earlier on in the list. It follows with a fallacy, that the same "license" must apply in all jurisdictions. First, this is false. We can perfectly have a non-free "license" (like fair use, CC BY-NC or "we can get away with it") for the US while having PD for the source country. Second, nobody ever in the history of Commons gave a shit about the residence of the uploader. Uploaders best move to Sealand. Bring biscuits. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 17:50, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Slowking4: The point of my introductory remarks above (timeline etc.) is that there is no real current consensus. There's "URAA cannot be used as the sole reason for deletion" that you cited, but there's also "it is my understanding that at this time there is no community agreement to host files affected by the URAA." from Commons:Review of Precautionary principle a few months later. --Rosenzweig τ 18:05, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
i think it is great you are trying to develop a consensus. i do not think this community is capable of agreeing to one, hence the talking past each other impasse. but by all means repeat the precautionary fear-mongering. what is the history of DMCA takedowns based on URAA? do those facts change anyone's mind about what the risk of hosting URAA content is? Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 19:27, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Slowking4: I looked at the DMCA takedowns at and found none of the kind we're discussing (PD in the country of origin, but still protected in the US because of the URAA). There are two, for a 1955 UK image, and for a 1967 UK image; both images are still protected in the UK, but probably would not be protected in the US if not for the URAA. But that's a speculation really. --Rosenzweig τ 21:02, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
I see no need to re-open the discussion about URAA. m:Legal/URAA Statement is still valid. Raymond 17:43, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Raymond: So you think we should delete the files affected by the URAA, following WMF's conclusion "The community should evaluate each potentially affected work [...] and remove works that are clearly infringing." from that statement? --Rosenzweig τ 18:00, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
No, because you have forgotten the more important part (my POV): "However, if a work’s status remains ambiguous after evaluation under the guidelines, it may be premature to delete the work prior to receiving a formal take-down notice, because these notices often contain information that is crucial to the determination of copyright status. Due to the complexity of the URAA, it is likely that only a small number of the potentially affected works will be subject to such notices. These guidelines differ from the more proactive systems currently used by the community for other copyright violations, but the complexity and fact-intensive nature of the URAA analysis makes a more active approach imprudent." Raymond 18:12, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Raymond: I have not forgotten that part, I just think that usually the copyright status of works affected by the URAA is not "ambiguous" because we have the necessary facts to determine said status. When is the status "ambiguous" in your opinion? --Rosenzweig τ 18:16, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
One concrete example: File:Gerhart Hauptmann by Hugo Erfurth 1929.jpg, author is Hugo Erfurth, a German photographer who died in 1948. The work was protected in Germany until the end of 2018. It was protected there on the URAA date, which is 1996-01-01. The US copyright was restored and lasts for 95 years from 1929, so until the end of 2024. Is there anything "ambiguous" here? If so, please tell me. Thanks. --Rosenzweig τ 18:24, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
So it's completely fine for any german language project to use it, and it's the duty of the WMF with it's multimillions of dollars, to make the use of this completely legitimate free content possible and not to hide behind the laws of some random country from the Wikiverse. Those pictures must not be deleted, the very minimum is a move from here to all projects, where they are legitimate. The free content has to be protected, not deleted. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 18:45, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Rosenzweig: If we want to claim public domain you also have to check for every country where and when this photograph was first published legally according to the local copyright law. We also should compare if the photograph is published in the US less or more than 30 days after publication abroad. For some countries it might the outcome the photograph is never officially published officially, or much later than the creation date. So even for old paintings public domain is not sure. --Hannolans (talk) 18:56, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Hannolans: So what is your conclusion from this? Should we only allow works here that have had their publication history thoroughly checked and for which we can say with absolute certainty that they were published on day (or at least year) X in country Y? In that case, we probably would have to delete whole droves of files, and not only files that are perhaps/probably/possibly affected by the URAA. --Rosenzweig τ 19:06, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Rosenzweig: I strongly say see keep, unless there are legal outcomes that proof a particular work is not public domain. Recently we had this situation with the diary of Anne Frank due to legal claims. In this situation you should check sentence by sentence the public domain status as some sentences where published in 1947 while other sentences not. To make your check even more complicated: if we really want to check public domain, for each work we should also check if the work is inspired by an earlier work and if so, if that was an accident or copied and if that work is pd as well . This is for example an issue for music, where some artists could claim they first created a tune used in a work. So, let's focus on real situations. We should respect the rights of artists and photopgraphers who created a work and who need a fixed term of copyright, but not the theoretical legal loops --Hannolans (talk) 20:01, 20 January 2019 (UTC)


Where to go from here:

  • Declare ourselves to be idiots. Seriously. We are not legal experts (any of us who IRL actually are legal experts are off the clock, so you don't count) and shouldn't claim to be legal experts. We cannot determine whether or not a work is in the public domain.
  • Create COM:We are idiots. (I'll be more than happy to if it doesn't get deleted!)
  • Start undeleting.

Questions?- Alexis Jazz ping plz 19:14, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for creating this discussion, Rosenzweig. I also agree that the status quo is untenable if only because there is no consistent URAA policy so you have deletions and tense undeletion requests. Alexis Jazz makes some excellent points in that the United States also has no Freedom of Panorama and yet we routinely ignore U.S copyright in allowing German FOP to be the rationale to keep modern sculpture in Germany. Just as we leave to the WMF to handle DMCAs for those sculptures, it would be better if allowed files that are public domain in their countries of origin to remain on Commons and just let WMF handle any potential DMCA takedowns. Deleting because of URAA also exacerbates the orphan works problem (something that countries have dropped the ball on). Commons is intended as an international, multilingual project and yet we keep on forcing anglocentric policies on the rest of the world. That needs to stop. The current administration in the United States is also rather unpredictable. We've seen leaks about pulling out of NATO, pulling out of the WTO, and the United States has exited UNESCO So, let's admit that we are not lawyers nor copyright experts and let's allow WMF to do the heavy lifting as far as worrying about U.S. copyright. Because otherwise, this is not an international project but an anglocentric repository dependent on the whims of the United States government. Abzeronow (talk) 21:05, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
let's come back to Rosenzweig's concrete example: File:Gerhart Hauptmann by Hugo Erfurth 1929.jpg from above. Author is Hugo Erfurth, a German photographer who died in 1948. The image is clearly out of copyright since January 1st, 2019. Probably not in the USA. I respect the copyright terms of Germany, where I live. But why should I have any interest or responsibility to enforce a US law that, even if WMF does not care about it? Raymond 21:19, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
My actual question was whether it is really "ambiguous" that the photograph is, for the reasons I outlined above, still protected by US copyright until the end of 2024? And if so, why? You did not answer that. --Rosenzweig τ 22:16, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
@Rosenzweig: We are idiots. We need to "remove works that are clearly infringing". This would be, for example, the latest Disney movie and the Harry Potter books. Is a century-old photograph of which we are not exactly hurting it's commercial exploitability a copyright infringement? Or is it fair use, in which case it's not an infringement? I don't know. You don't know! We're idiots! Most legal experts probably won't be able to answer that question right away. So let's wait for a DMCA claim in those cases and let WMF handle it. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 23:51, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
Well by that logic, why bother following any copyright law? :-) Carl Lindberg (talk) 01:43, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
@Clindberg: I'll write a small essay about that. I already have the title! - Alexis Jazz ping plz 01:59, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

@Sänger, Abzeronow: When you write "anglocentrism" and "anglocentric", I think you really mean "Americocentrism" and "Americocentric", respectively.   — Jeff G. please ping or talk to me 22:06, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

Yes and no ;) The trigger for the current discussion was a deletion spree by Rosenzweig against perfectly legal end free pictures from and for German projects, but this discussion is taking place in english instead of the natural language for this discussion: German. But...of course the underlying legalese is us-centrist (America is a continent, no a country, and most of America speaks Spanish or Portuguese) indeed. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 22:48, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
This is not perse a German discussion either, files from most European countries are in the exact same situation. Jcb (talk) 23:08, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
There was no "deletion spree". I didn't delete, I filed deletion requests. --Rosenzweig τ 00:18, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
<quetsch>You've got an (A) behind your name and started a mass deletion process of perfectly legal and free pictures, I call that a deletion spree. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 05:23, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
don't be pedantic. you openly flouted the URAA consensus here, because "you know better", even though there has not been a DMCA for such an example. do not create a load of drama wasting everyone's time, keeping URAA files, especially when there is a DR backlog. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 03:15, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, he was being pedantic -- that is going deletion hunting, which is never popular. However, he was not flouting URAA consensus, which is to delete if there is significant doubt as to its PD status in the U.S., including if restored by the URAA. That is the current consensus. If we want to remove the "and the U.S." part of Commons policy, and make it just the country of origin, that would be another matter. The discussion you point to on the URAA though was overruled just a couple months later, and is *not* the consensus. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:19, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
i see a new wave of "significant doubt" recently, in DRs that have not resulted in a deletion. i would suggest those persons with "significant doubts" do not have a consensus based on URAA alone. they should stop. this abuse of "significant doubt" tends to undermine the credibility of the commons at other projects such as Hebrew and German. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 13:07, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
"Significant doubt" is the wording in the Commons:Licensing policy. You are basically suggesting to ignore copyright law because it is inconvenient. There is really no doubt as to a lot of these; the effects of the URAA are well known and they are fully copyrighted in the US. I get that users are frustrated by following a copyright law that does not apply in the country where they live, but that doesn't change the law. Also be aware that uploaders are technically liable; they are uploading a work to a U.S. website, so they are actually the violators if it's illegal in the U.S. Yes, we have DMCA protections where it can be removed before it gets into more serious legal territory, but you could also ignore all copyright laws with that argument. Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:14, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
no, i am not suggesting ignoring copyright law, rather i am saying follow the WMF legal guidance: "However, if a work’s status remains ambiguous after evaluation under the guidelines, it may be premature to delete the work prior to receiving a formal take-down notice, because these notices often contain information that is crucial to the determination of copyright status." and i doubt the credibility of the recent increase of "significant doubt". what facts have changed? where is the evidence of a copyright violation? i get that editors are frustrated that their interpretation of US copyright law is not shared by WMF legal. maybe they should come by American University Washington College of Law, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property for some counseling. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 23:25, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
We are following WMF legal's guidance. Their words: The community should evaluate each potentially affected work using the guidelines issued by the Legal and Community Advocacy Department, as well as the language of the statute itself, and remove works that are clearly infringing. So that is what we do. We carefully go through the URAA questions, ask things like was in copyrighted in the source country on the URAA date per their law at the time, and did it lose U.S. copyright due to lack of notice/renewal etc., and if the end result is that the file is clearly restored by the URAA we should delete. WMF Legal did *not* say to keep such works until a DMCA is filed. They do have a point on ambiguous stuff, for example something created before 1924 but we don't know if it was published then or not -- it's hard to answer the URAA questions at that point, which details are often present in a DMCA request, and when in that type of gray area we should probably assume early publication and keep the files. That situation would amount to theoretical doubt, not significant doubt, usually. But never did the WMF say to simply ignore the URAA when it's obvious a work was restored. The fact that something was restored by the URAA does not automatically make it "ambiguous". Any works created 1924 or later do not have the publication date ambiguity. The current Commons:Licensing text follows basically that. We should not do bulk deletions, but go case by case. Carl Lindberg (talk) 07:39, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
"We are not recommending that community members undertake mass deletion of existing content on URAA grounds, without such actual knowledge of infringement or takedown notices." and yet we see mass deletion nominations increasing recently, with no actual evidence of infringement, merely "significant doubts", resulting in this tl;dr discussion. you might call that "following WMF legal's guidance", i do not. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 14:44, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Right, but when we have good knowledge of a source country's copyright law on the URAA date, and we know the work was under copyright in that country on that date and it's from 1924 and after, then we basically know it's copyrighted in the U.S., and its presence here is knowledge of infringement. Mass deletions are discouraged because there could be a lot of different details for each work (mass restorations would then be similar). It can be hard -- I just commented on a Malta one where we really don't have enough knowledge of the copyright law in 1996 to really say (in fact it appears the terms were much shorter then); we should not be deleting without such knowledge. But the URAA is law and it's not impossible to evaluate it. What situation would be enough for you to think we should delete on URAA grounds? Carl Lindberg (talk) 01:54, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
right, when the image is findable either off-line or on, with an affirmative "all rights reserved". that would be actual evidence. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 02:43, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
America is not a continent; this idea that two huge continental bodies, North America and South America, stuck together by a tiny isthmus, is one continent and yet Africa, Asia and Europe are three is ludicrous. The name America is problematic, but it is a standard name in English, and Germany / Deutschland are hardly unproblematic, given that it's not the only country with Germans or Deutsch speakers, though it has historically used that justification to invade other countries with Germans or with Deutsch speakers. Instead of nitpicking the name of our countries, let's just accept the normal names of these countries for the goal of communication.
For the WMF, German law is irrelevant for legality. It has to abide by US law. I find myself quite frustrated to have to dig through death dates and be stopped from uploading works that are perfectly legal for me and the WMF because of not finding death dates or finding that they died many years too late for me to upload them. Commons is going to have to end up with compromises.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:15, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't think the WMF would permit Commons to introduce policies that say US copyright law can be ignored, unless there are sufficient doubts about the legal status. The situation with FoP, according to Commons:Freedom of panorama is that "The question of what country's law applies in a freedom of panorama case is an unsettled issue." So, the WMF isn't explicitly permitting the hosting of copyright violations. It can't do the latter, since it's a requirement of the DMCA safe harbor that the site operator isn't aware of any particular violation of US copyright. The DMCA safe harbor is also an advantage of hosting a site like Commons in the US, when in many other countries the site operator wouldn't be shielded from lawsuits. Maybe the current situation, that the Commons policy is a little unclear, and some files are kept when strictly they should be deleted, is the best that can be done (from the point of view of wanting to host files that are public domain in many countries.) --ghouston (talk) 02:51, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Yeah, that's kind of what I am afraid of. Changing policy to "PD in the country of origin" would help the URAA restorations, except we'd be knowingly hosting stuff under copyright in the U.S., which could lead to some rather sticky situations (having to explain that policy, etc.). But, it's *possible* that PD in the country of origin would mitigate that, since works would still need to be pretty old. But we'd have to respect any DR or DMCA from a copyright owner. I'm just not sure that's a good policy to change.
    • On the other hand, I probably would be in favor of arguing that foreign *government* works should expire per their own country's law -- you could at least make the argument that they are a form of PD-author. The government could make a longer term for their own works if they so choose (I believe New Zealand does), so that is sort of like a copyright owner deciding when something becomes public domain. I'm not aware of any government bringing a copyright lawsuit in another country, especially when it has expired in their own, so to me that enters a wide "unknown" area. However, when asked about that, in this meta discussion on the URAA, they suggested it was still better to get a statement from the government that they consider their term expiring to apply worldwide (like we had from the UK then, and have gotten from Canada and a couple others since). So if they are not willing to ignore potential URAA rights of foreign governments, I really don't see where we should be ignoring them from private citizens where the rules are well established with many court precedents. I would be in favor of that, though. It's probably a similar gray area to the current FoP policy. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:42, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Thanks, that's an interesting and useful input. But you can't claim that deleting files affected by the URAA is a "consensus". Yes, it is written on the page you mention, but not only there is no general agreement about this, and as it seems lately there is not even a majority for that. Regards, Yann (talk) 13:22, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I agree that there is no consensus on URAA. Seeming by this thread, it's difficult to say how we are going to reach a consensus. Going back to one of Alexis Jazz's comments, would it be possible to do a quasi-noncommercial license for works public domain in their source countries but likely still have an enforceable copyright in the United States (and note, allowing German FOP pictures since those sculptures would also have had restored copyrights in the US is "we can get away with it")? Going back to the concrete example of File:Gerhart Hauptmann by Hugo Erfurth 1929.jpg, is there even someone who can enforce the possible US copyright of Hugo Erfurth's works? It could be an orphan work for all we know since European copyrights are automatic and US copyright has only been automatic since 1989. Abzeronow (talk) 16:50, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • For File:Gerhart Hauptmann by Hugo Erfurth 1929.jpg, yes there is someone who can enforce it. Hugo Erfurth's heirs got the restored copyright, and can enforce it (per the URAA, the ownership of the restored copyright is the author or initial rightholder of the work as determined by the law of the source country of the work, so it can revert to the original owner). There are some examples of determining that in the case law listed above. The restored U.S. copyright will last until 2025. The painting is also still copyrighted in Spain and Colombia until 2029; whoever owned the painting's copyright (heirs, or possibly someone else if the economic right got transferred) can still enforce it there. The FoP situation is different; we don't really have any U.S. case law to go by there -- it's at least quite possible that a court would take foreign law into account in those situations, and are more difficult in the first place as they are derivative works. It's a lot more than simply "we can get away with it". We have plenty of case law on the URAA however. We delete orphan works too (which are works known to be under copyright, just perhaps not knowing who the copyright owner is or there being no way to contact them). Laws give no protection over violating orphan works, unfortunately. Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:12, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, if he had heirs. I can't find any mention of children in the EN, FR or DE wiki pages for Erfurth. And yes, I am very much aware that there are no legal protections for orphan works. An international travesty as lawmakers are often beholden to the 1% and not the general public. And since the United States has no FOP, pretending that German FOP law is the be all and end all is "we can get away with it". As referenced above, works hosted here under German FOP have been taken down under the DMCA, so there is no current legal basis for us to host works merely protected by German FOP, and yet we do because that's what the community decided. We can and should do the same with the URAA. If not, let's invent some sort of compromise measure like works in their last 20 years of U.S. copyright (1924-1943), or allow CC-BY-NC-ND to only apply in the United States or let's just pretend that works were simultaneously published in the US . Abzeronow (talk) 17:25, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Heirs don't have to be children -- it would be following the laws of inheritance in the country of origin. Often things will go to parents or siblings or cousins, etc. If the law of that country says there is no inheritance beyond children, and he had no offspring, and there were no heirs designated in a will, then that may be OK. But most countries have well-established laws for inheritance of property, which probably deal with situations where no direct descendants are living, and the copyright would follow those. We generally assume there is *some* owner, somewhere, until the copyright term expires. Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:32, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Some of Hugo Erfurth's photographs are available via Getty Images – so I doubt they are "orphan works". In fact, his heirs sold his "Nachlass" (works he left behind) to a museum in Dresden in 2009 [2]. --Rosenzweig τ 18:22, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the information, Rosenzweig. Learned something new (which is always good). Abzeronow (talk) 21:37, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • @Yann:, policy has *always* been "public domain in the U.S. and the country of origin". Restored files are copyrighted in the U.S., full stop. There is nothing different about them, legally, than if they had a copyright notice and were renewed, unless you are a "reliance party" (which we are definitely not). Following the "massive restoration" discussion where you claimed consensus, you changed Commons:Licensing to say that URAA can not be used as a deletion reason. That got an immediate reaction, and Commons:Review of Precautionary principle was started with a wider audience. That was closed with a summary that consensus was still to delete such files, and Commons:Licensing was therefore updated with this edit (and tweaked right after to this wording), which indicated the new community decision and remains to this day. There are obviously people frustrated about the law -- it sucks for us, no question -- but I'm not as sure they represent "consensus". As long as the policy is "public domain in the U.S. and the country of origin", you really can't claim you are following that policy if you ignore the URAA. Where there is some gray area -- say something created before 1924 but we don't know whether or not it was published before 1924, I would say that would be theoretical doubt and not significant doubt, so we should keep those. But for stuff which the only hope is simultaneous U.S. publication, I think we should need some concrete evidence of that. If there is consensus to change policy to only be "PD in the country of origin", which would be a massive change, then that would eliminate the URAA basically. Short of that though, I don't see a way and say with a straight face that our policy is not not keep stuff which is copyrighted in the U.S. Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:53, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • There is a consensus on the general policy, but there is certainly no consensus on its application for URAA. One of the reason URAA is really a problem is the retroactive application to files which were already in the public domain. That's a big change compared to usual legal practice. When the copyright duration was extended in Europe, it only applied to files which were not already the public domain. AS the WMF says, determining if URAA applies or not can be quite complicated. And the potential legal risk is much much lower than for a copyright in the country of origin. All this combined leads to the current opposition of deletion of these files. That's why we should applies a different policy for these than for others. I am looking for a compromise where some files can be kept. Regards, Yann (talk) 17:09, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Are you claiming the EU restorations to 70pma were not retroactive in exactly the same way? That is quite false. The EU directive quite explicitly applied to files which were already in the public domain. The UK's happened on the same day, even. Hard to say why we should respect one and not the other. I would certainly love to use the UK's old terms of 50 years from creation for photographs. But those got restored in the UK the same day the URAA took effect. Obviously, you can't go back and claim infringement on actions which took place before the works were restored -- no laws are retroactive in that way -- but they can re-create a copyright going forward, which is what both the URAA and the EU directives did. The EU only restored works which were protected in at least one EEA state, but that is pretty much all of them (Spain had 80pma terms). The US only restored works still protected in the country of origin, so was more limited. Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:17, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • @Yann: Your claim "When the copyright duration was extended in Europe, it only applied to files which were not already the public domain." is not true, or not for all countries. Germany in 1995 restored copyrights for photographs that were already "gemeinfrei" (in the public domain). See s:de:Oberlandesgericht Hamburg - U-Boot Foto 1941 for a 2004 court case about a concrete example – a photo of a submarine which was published in 1943, had its copyright expire in 1968 (the therm of protection was 25 years after publication then), only to have the copyright restored in 1995, now for 70 years pma. The photographer was still alive in 2004 btw, so the initial term of protection was extended for 100+ years. --Rosenzweig τ 18:41, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
The restoration of copyright by URAA was accepted by the Supreme Court in en:Golan_v._Holder. If the WMF is not contesting take-down requests on FoP grounds, it doesn't mean that the legal situation is clear. It may also mean that they are not sure if they would win such cases or not in court. If the decision went the wrong way, and the legal situation was "clarified", the carnage on Commons of FoP artworks would far exceed the URAA issues. Better to just to delete the few images that receive a take-down demand. --ghouston (talk) 00:29, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

And moving the Wikimedia host servers to Germany has unfortunately the consequence, that some files would have possibly to be renamed, even if the formerly auspicious symbol now associated with Nazism ist not also found in its image contents. -- 11:34, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

And the Category:Sheet music copyrighted in Germany would have to be deleted with all of its contents. -- 20:26, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • We are in a strange situation as Wikimedia projects grow in influence. No one is documenting social changes, but there are cases where policy on Wikimedia projects leads interpretation of international copyright law. The community consensus here could become the interpretation of what is normal for the next generation. I agree with Carl's point about non-US government works having an expired term of copyright, even if those works are under that government's copyright in United States copyright law. If the copyright holder themselves takes action to put their own work into the public domain in their own primary jurisdiction, then that sort of release is the kind of permission which Wikimedia projects typically seek for mirroring in Wikimedia Commons. It is not reasonable to expect that any country's export of published works into the United States decades ago was an intent to govern the work globally under US copyright law rather than the law of the government which sought a shorter term for its own works. Something new that is developing is that to a modest extent, we might have greater near-future access to some policy opinions from the meta:Internet Archive. After the Wikimedia Foundation, the IA is the friendliest and most knowledgeable organization to advocate for the Wikimedia community and our style of publishing. While no one at IA has promised to participate in our community discussions, if we ever drafted a position on something, then they do have a policy team and since 2016 they have been seeking out Wikimedia partnerships. We are beginning to establish as common knowledge that the Wikimedia Foundation and Internet Archive serve complementary roles toward the same goals. I can imagine the IA publishing an opinion if we asked, and if they agreed with what we proposed, and if it seemed useful to establish a coalition statement. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:17, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
    The rule of the shorter term is bad for global copyright policy. Copyright maximalists have frequently gotten copyright extensions based on the fact that Country B has a longer copyright term than Country A, but due to the rule of shorter term, Country A's works have a shorter copyright length in Country B than they might. One little tweak by Country A, and more money is going to flow from Country B to Country A? Lawmakers jump at it.
    It is reasonable to expect that a country's export of works into other countries was in respect of the international copyright treaties, which make caring about the original country's copyright duration a optional feature. These non-US governments did not seek a shorter term for their own works; we'll wait until 2047 for Agatha Christie's works to leave copyright, some of which have been PD-US for 20 years, and by which point most of her writings will be PD-US. If we're worried about social changes, we should worry that we're about the only site on the web that worries about copyright laws that we don't have to.--Prosfilaes (talk) 04:04, 3 July 2019 (UTC)

Policy vote?[edit]

It seems the users who wanted to contribute to this discussion have done so now. From what I gather, most (not all) of them would support a Commons policy change to accept works that are in the PD in their country of origin, removing the requirement that they are also free in the US.

The only way to achieve that IMO is a policy vote. Some will probably say there's no need for that, because one of the earlier votes or one of the WMF statements support whatever is correct in their view. The problem with that is that we have two contradictory earlier Commons votes, and the WMF statements are deliberately vague so people on both sides of the argument can find sentences in there to support their particular point of view (like, we should consider each file invidually and delete clearly infringing files, but also there's no need to do that really). This is precisely what created the current mess we're in.

A URAA policy vote has been tried before from what I can see (like here), but without any real success. The vote I have in mind would be a choice between two of the options outlined above: option 2 (delete files that are still protected in the USA because of the URAA, despite being in the PD in their country of origin) and option 3 (allow files that are still protected in the USA because of the URAA, despite being in the PD in their country of origin). Nothing else, no discussion about moving the servers to another country, creating some kind of "Shadow Commons" etc., because all of that would be outside the scope of a Commons policy vote.

What do you think? Would you support another attempt to clear up the current situation – that there is no real consensus, as shown in the discussion above – by a vote? --Rosenzweig τ 13:26, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

@Rosenzweig: I support that. Also, I strongly suspect the reason for the WMF to be vague is because they are not in the position to really condone anything. If you were to ask them "hey, is FoP okay?" or "hey, is DM okay?" you would also get vague answers. The uploaders are legally responsible (always have been), WMF could easily shoot themselves in the foot if they say out loud X is allowed, because it would shift (part of) the responsibility to them. So they won't. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 17:49, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
I support a vote on this. Abzeronow (talk) 18:56, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
The problem is, that Commons is proclaimed the central repository for pictures in the Wikiverse, and uploaders are taken here automagically. They upload perfectly legal and free content for their (and hundreds of other) projects, just to see them deleted because of some for hundrets of projects completely irrelevant foreign country laws. How will those, who want to mass-delete perfectly legal pictures, guarantee, that they will be transferred to all projects, where they are perfectly legal? How should the upload process be changed, so that normal uploaders wuld become aware of those looming mass-deletions of perfectly legal and free pictures, and how could they get them to all projects, that could use them, in one click?
The use as the central repository for all projects of the Wikiverse is the most important use case for Commons, everything else is at most secondary, if not tertiary. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 05:30, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie, is a perfectly free and legal book for me. I still can't upload it here, because it's still in copyright in the UK. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and its translation into German by Maria Lazar, are completely free and legal for you. It is still in copyright in the US. There is no way to have a multinational project and coherently obey any copyright laws and not have some users have the files deleted because of foreign (to them) copyright laws. Removing the requirement that files be free in the US will still force people to deal with foreign copyright laws that are irrelevant to them but are relevant to the work.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:32, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
@Prosfilaes: you could actually upload Murder on the Links to English Wikipedia as PD-USonly, but indeed not here. I think we should either drop the PD-US requirement or start allowing PD-USonly, reduce the complexity. Legally, it doesn't make all that much of a difference despite the server location. Dropping the PD-US requirement is more sensible from the perspective of the enduser and better fits the multinational profile of Commons. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 08:56, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Legally, uploaders are liable -- so if something is copyrighted in either the country they are in, or the U.S. (the country of the site), they could be committing infringement. Commons:Licensing does explain that. The DMCA would likely protect the uploaders from the U.S. half of that, but technically that is the case. Carl Lindberg (talk) 09:58, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
As far as I know, Commons always has to ask users to upload only files that are free in the USA. If they ignore that, it's not required that other users or administrators delete their files, but if they receive a few DMCA take downs, their account will probably be deleted. They can also face legal action in their country of residence, if they are identifiable and if the files aren't free in that country. The other issue is that Commons is supposed to be a repository of freely licensed files, and ignoring copyright violations doesn't achieve that. Otherwise, there'd be no need for any deletion process, beyond DMCA take-downs. But files that are free in quite a few countries, even if that doesn't include the USA, it doesn't seem like such an issue. If a file was labelled as free in death+70 countries, but said nothing about its US copyright status, it wouldn't bother me. I think adding "not free in the USA" templates would be questionable. But you still have the issue of what to do when such files are nominated for deletion because they aren't free in the USA. Asking administrators to ignore US copyright law isn't a good idea. --ghouston (talk) 06:01, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
@Ghouston: administrators should abide by US copyright law.. when the USA is the source country. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 08:56, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure that source country should make so much difference. Files from the USA that are still under copyright in the USA can be public domain in much of the rest of the world, so are still worth hosting if there's a work-around for the legal issues. --ghouston (talk) 09:53, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
The work-around that I'm thinking of is to separate the legal requirements from the "volunteer deletion policy". The legal requirements are the users shoudn't upload any material that violates US copyright. They should be warned of the consequences, that if their uploads receive 3(?) DMCA take-downs then their account will be banned. They should also be advised not to violate the copyright laws of their country of residence, to avoid personal legal difficulties. The volunteer deletion policy, on the other hand, doesn't exist to enforce US copyrights (that's handled by the DMCA). It exists to maintain Commons as a source of free files. That can be done by deleting files that are not either freely licensed, or public domain in a significant part of the world. That could be defined as either free in the USA, or free in death+70 countries (including the subset of the latter where FoP is accepted). --ghouston (talk) 10:17, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
you really want to ban people after 3 DMCA's? for example, you could have 3 images of the same FoP germany sculpture which gets a DMCA. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 13:10, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
@Slowking4: this is just the current policy, as I understand it. I'm not sure if it's exactly 3 images. I think it's required by the DMCA. See en:Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. It also says that the website operator (Wikimedia) must not be aware of "presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent" and "must reasonably implement a policy "that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances" of "repeat infringers", must inform their users of this policy, and must accommodate standard copy protection systems." This limits somewhat their freedom to ignore US copyright law, but doesn't require active enforcement by volunteers. --ghouston (talk) 01:31, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
actually, "repeat infringers" = 3 is not policy; but by all means go for a proposal. you realize that 3 out of 30000 would be nonsense? the management by numbers, and specifying punitive measures in advance, and "the DMCA made me do it" is sad. WMF have a safe harbor; they are not ignoring anything. but by all means propose filters for uploads without a permission from getty. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 02:15, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
For some reason I had the idea it was 3. Whatever, I'm happy if it's as lenient as the law/courts allow. If it can be set at say a million or a billion. I'm fine with that. "Repeat" on it's own isn't good, since you could be banned on the 2nd "offence". --ghouston (talk) 02:48, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Here's what WMF says (not much): [3] Here's another interesting link from the EFF: [4]. --ghouston (talk) 03:01, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
If you search the web for something like "requirements for a dmca repeat infringers policy" you'll find that a million or a billion won't cut it. There have been court decisions on the topic, e.g., against Cox Communications [5]. --ghouston (talk) 03:20, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

Do I get this right? Commons is not an international project, but a US-only project? That seems to be the gist of most deletion-happy people here. Then why have commons at all, if it doesn't cater all projects? Decentralised Upload and cross-project usability could be a solution. If I upload a perfectly legal and free picture to deWP, currently it's unusable for any other german language project, it has to be uploaded everywhere again, thus perhaps up to hundred times. The very reason for the creation and maintaining of commons was and is to give a central repository for all projects of the Wikiverse. Besides as well let others use the pics also, but that's just a nice add-on, nothing central. If Commons is no longer able to do it's main job to be the central repository for the whole Wikiverse because of restrictions by any random country, why not decentralise it? Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 16:18, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

The WMF is always going to delete files that get a take-down request, if they consider it valid. There's nothing we can do about that. But we have no obligation to delete files voluntarily, if we consider them in scope for some other reason (e.g., free in the rest of the world outside the USA.) Works by authors whose heirs are sending take-down requests or lawsuits would be exceptions that should be deleted on sight. --ghouston (talk) 22:03, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
We are the Wikiverse, the WMF is just a service organisation from our midst, that was created to do tasks for us. We should say what we want, and the WMF has to cater us. If we want to be international, not just US, the WMF has more then enough ressources to come up with a good solution for that, and a headquarter in SF is nothing of value, it's just the current place, nothing more. Commons is as well primarily a service for all projects in the Wikiverse, as is WD. It should be organised in a manner to cater all projects in the Wikiverse (and perhaps even some outside, but that's nothing central) in the best possible way for all projects. If that means decentralisation, and/or better licence tags for different projects, so be it. The deWP cannot use any Fair Use stuff, as the concept of Fair Use is not legal in the German language projects, but of course the deWP will tolerate for them illegal Fair Use pictures in Commons. The same approach is necessary for pictures, that are free and legal in de German language projects, just not in the USA. Some projects must be prohibited to use them, but they need to be tolerated in the international picture depository for all language versions. And the highly paid legal department should come up with a viable solution, that keeps those pictures in the data base, but restrict the usage for different projects. USA-centrism must never be allowed, that is nothing compatible with an international project. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 22:58, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
I think this is the wrong place to propose moving the WMF to Germany. I don't even know what the right place would be. I'm not convinced anyway that Germany or the EU in general has more favourable copyright policies than the USA. Do they even have an equivalent to the DMCA safe harbor, or do you just get sued directly when users upload copyright violations? Isn't the EU always proposing new draconian policies like forcing sites to install upload filters? --ghouston (talk) 23:05, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
I never said that. A complete move to Germany would make the deletion of all Fair Use material necessary. It would not be a problem for deWP, as we can't use it anyway, but it would probably be a problem for enWP. Here with this exaggerated usage of URAA against usable pictures for dozens of projects in the Wikiverse it's the other way around. As an international project we have to either follow all laws at once, or all laws just for the projects they apply to, and Commons is not a project restricted to a certain land, it's by definition international. If URAA-deletions should take place because of enWP, Fair Use deletions must follow because of deWP. no project in the Wikiverse is anyhow more equal then the others. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 23:17, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Fair use material is already not allowed on Commons per COM:FAIRUSE. Local projects, like enwiki, can host fair use material under certain conditions, as allowed for by meta:NFC. clpo13(talk) 23:27, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Also, despite being an international project, Commons has to abide by the laws of the country it's based in, which is the United States. See en:Wikipedia:Non-U.S. copyrights, Commons:Licensing#Interaction of US and non-US copyright law and m:Legal/Wikimedia Server Location and Free Knowledge. clpo13(talk) 23:31, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
And if that land is not suitable for a lot of projects, a move to a better suited is the best option. Yes, currently the illegal Fair Use is possible, while the perfectly legal pictures, that where the reason für this discussion could be deleted. For a lot of projects the loss of Fair Use will not change anything, only enXY profits from that, so why not make it the other way around? Host Fair Use in the projects themselves, and move commons to a country that abides to other laws. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 05:21, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Wherever you move, you just shift the problems around. It would probably be worse in a number of aspects, moving anywhere else. We may as well suggest you move to the U.S. and solve the problem that way ;-). A policy change is a separate matter though. Carl Lindberg (talk) 07:13, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
There's nothing illegal about fair use; it's an exception under law. As I said above, many perfectly legal pictures for me and many other people around the world are deleted because their European source nations consider them under copyright. meta:Non-free_content#Exemption_Doctrine_Policy shows the fair use rules for Wikimedia projects; looking at just the first screen of the Wikipedia section, the Arabic, Belarusian and Bangla Wikipedias are all described as having policies "similar to enwiki".--Prosfilaes (talk) 10:32, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
"illegal Fair Use" yeah a profound misunderstanding of the law. when all the federal judges agree, then by definition it is legal. see also w:Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. Slowking4 § Sander.v.Ginkel's revenge 22:54, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
To propose moving WMF's servers to Germany, ghouston, you should try to create a subpage of meta:Requests for comment. Well, the proposal to move the servers to Iceland failed, but that doesn't mean the same for moving the servers to Germany, does it? George Ho (talk) 08:02, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Nah, I prefer Iceland. --ghouston (talk) 09:42, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

Is there enough support?[edit]

A week ago, I asked who would support a policy vote. Two users responded that they would. In my opinion, that is not enough.

The problem is that, as I see it, a fair number of people (probably including the Wikimedia Foundation) do not really wish a change of the status quo because they fear that the change would be for the worse (from their respective point of view). So they prefer the situation we have right now, where they can point to whatever statement or decision supports their point of view.

That is why, to be meaningful and have any chance of success, such a policy vote would have to be well-prepared, or it would end like the 2017 vote I referred to above (3 supporters and a number of people who were opposed to the vote per se). A vote definitely needs more than three participants if you don't want it to be derailed or dismissed without further discussion.

In order to achieve this, the policy vote must not be a casual affair somewhere on one of the village pump pages, probably unknown to most potential voters. It would have to be on a separate page, there would have to be announcements on Commons and at the other Wikimedia projects, and it all would have to be in several languages. English is the de facto working language of Commons, but obviously the URAA problem affects users from lots of other countries. Not all of those speak English, but if you want the vote to be meaningful, those users need to be able to participate, and they need information they can understand, in a language they can read. Besides English, that would probably mean the other major European languages, like Spanish (which would cover Latin America as well), Russian, French, Italian, German, Portuguese (because of Brazil), possibly also Dutch, Swedish, Polish, others. As for non-European languages, probably Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, others?

All of this would be quite an effort, and a substantial number of supporters would be needed for the translations and the announcements at the various village pumps, forums etc. both on Commons as well as on the projects.

I'm willing to proceed with a vote, but not on my own. As I explained, quite a number of supporters would be needed to do the work. So far two have said they would support the vote. Unless we get more, option 1 from above ("Do nothing") is unfortunately the likeliest outcome of this debate. --Rosenzweig τ 14:41, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Current policy, and one way forward?[edit]

This issue has actually been settled for some time, and we do have a formal policy on it, which was updated following the initial very extensive discussions. It appears within COM:L at Commons:Licensing#Uruguay_Round_Agreements_Act and reads:

Files nominated for deletion due to the URAA should be evaluated carefully, as should be their copyright status under US and local laws. A mere allegation that the URAA applies to a file cannot be the sole reason for deletion. If the end result of copyright evaluation is that there is significant doubt about the freedom of a file under US or local law, the file must be deleted in line with the precautionary principle.

What sometimes causes confusion is the fact that an admin closed a discussion with the ambiguous summary "URAA cannot be used as the sole reason for deletion." But that does not and never has meant that the community has granted itself exemption from the US copyright extensions that resulted from URAA. At the time Commons was facing multiple DRs based purely on a statement that URAA applied, without any detailed legal and factual review of the individual files, and the community decided that that was not good enough. But as Carl Lindberg says above, URAA has since that date become an integral and legally unchallengeable part of US copyright law, and the Commons community is simply not competent to come to any consensus to ignore it.

That is clearly reflected in COM:DR which notes that "Any expressed consensus will be taken into account so far as possible, but consensus can never trump copyright law nor can it override Commons Policy".

Insofar as there may be a 'mess' here, that seems to derive not from Commons policy, but from editors who repeatedly argue it can be ignored. To be clear, unless and until Commons files are hosted outside the US, it is unlawful under US law to host any file that we are aware infringes US copyright of any type, including that created by URAA.

Where an editor lodges a DR, whether for a single file or for a group of files, each should be reviewed against our hosting policies in the normal way. It is not enough for an editor simply to allege that URAA applies, but if on a review of the facts it is found that the file(s) are infringing then they must be deleted. Once again, consensus to the contrary - or editor anger - can never override the law.

One unhelpful issue fact, perhaps, is that Commons interprets COM:PRP very, very strictly in many cases, and deletes many files that the WMF would be a little more relaxed about. Retaining more files shouldn't mean ignoring the law, and could be done by adjusting the rigour of COM:PRP to prevent deletion for fanciful, far-fetched or even paranoic reasons. As it will be hard to get any consensus for changing the simple wording of COM:PRP as it stands, an easier option might be to add some agreed explanations that define more precisely what the community means by significant doubt in different classes of case. An RFC along those lines could allow more images to be held while still complying with the law and the requirements of the WMF.

That could make a real difference. URAA copyright applies only when the work meets a variety of factual qualifying criteria, and whether those criteria are met is frequently unknown and sometimes unknowable. Rather than assuming the worst possible situation ("the file has to be deleted because we can't prove unknowable facts"), Commons could use a more nuanced and practical test of the extent of significant doubt. MichaelMaggs (talk) 19:23, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

I'm not sure that would really help. To ascertain if it could, I'd like to see concrete examples of works that could be kept. Let's use Commons:Deletion requests/Files in Category:Hugo Erfurth, which was closed as kept by Jcb because "the hypothetical copyright in US is only imaginary". Of the 22 files contained in this DR, are there any that you think could be kept when NOT applying any of the "fanciful, far-fetched or even paranoic reasons" you mention? Or would they still have to be deleted? --Rosenzweig τ 20:01, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I'd suggest a wide-ranging discussion to get views on suitable wording. That may take some time and should have a variety of examples up for discussion. It shouldn't be based solely on one specific set of facts, ie on one DR. I'm putting the proposal up for initial consideration, and wouldn't want to jump too quickly into specific drafting. In that specific case the stated closing rationale appears contrary both to policy and to US law. MichaelMaggs (talk) 20:12, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
The only chance for 1924 and later Hugo Erfurth stuff would be if any of his works qualified for Lichtbilder; those may be slightly ambiguous since Germany's terms did not change much (just changing any remaining 25-year simple photos to 50-year) but (per later court rulings) they seem to have changed the qualifying level for them, beyond what the EU directive seems to have required. Or I guess if they were simultaneously published in the U.S., but that should require some evidence to support it. For that list, File:Der Maler Richard Müller mit Modell im Atelier. Foto von Hugo Erfurth.jpg would seem to be the only one which might fall under the simple photo stuff, and even that seems dubious to me (though the date is not known, which makes restoration unclear). For other works, one area could be works where the creation date was before 1924 but we don't know when the publication date was -- those probably fall under the "ambiguous" part of the WMF guidance, part of current policy, meaning we probably should not delete under that uncertainty, but rather treat that as more of a theoretical doubt and keep them under assumption of PD-US-expired (unless we have specific publication info or have some documentation that it was kept unpublished until at least 1924). Of the Erfurth ones, File:Corinth,Lovis 1858-1925.JPG does not have a creation date -- just that it obviously needed to have been before the subject's death in 1925. If that was from 1923 or before, it could be OK. File:Painter Kete Holvits by Erfurt G.jpg also does not have a date -- was that before or after File:Käthe Kollwitz by Hugo Erfurth 1925.jpg, taken of the same person? If before, that could be pre-1924 and also be OK. As User:MichaelMaggs says, we could treat stuff which has a significant chance of being OK (possibly even if there is a significant doubt as well) as "ambiguous" under current policy and keep them. Carl Lindberg (talk) 21:42, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
According to this, the Richard Müller photo is from 1921. Carl Lindberg (talk) 22:59, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, I added the year to the file description. --Rosenzweig τ 15:26, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
I followed Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Italy that say 70pma, at first view... Christian Ferrer (talk) 06:22, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Right, which documents the situation today. But the URAA restorations applied based on public domain status on the URAA date, which was 1996 for Italy. Italy applied the EU directive in Legislative Decree No. 154 of May 26, 1997, but that was after the URAA date and therefore does not affect the URAA. The law in effect in 1996 is here, which was 50pma. And for non-retroactive laws, sometimes you need to go back even further because sometimes parts of older laws still apply. There are some details at en:Wikipedia:Non-U.S. copyrights in the Italy row. Portugal and France also had lesser terms on the URAA date, as did most of the eastern European nations which joined the EU at later dates. Carl Lindberg (talk) 09:13, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks you I added a note at our text. Christian Ferrer (talk) 12:03, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

@MichaelMaggs: Do you plan to actually put up that RfC you mention above? Or did you have something else in mind? --Rosenzweig τ 16:20, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Hi Rosenzweig, while I was suggesting that this might be a possible way forward, I'm afraid I'm no longer closely enough involved with Commons to commit the rather large amount of time that would inevitably be involved to lead the idea. I would certainly support it, and perhaps could help with some of the final drafting, but I don't think I'm the right person to push this forward. MichaelMaggs (talk) 19:21, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

PD works by branches of foreign government[edit]

It's quite common to find government copyright that lasts for 50-75 years after creation, but this is still shorter than the US duration of the earlier of 95 years after first publication, or 120 years after creation, if author is unknown or corporate authorship. Can we keep these files? It seems rather absurd if those governments/parliaments/courts/other public bodies would attempt to restore their copyright in US while they dont protect it in their own countries.--Roy17 (talk) 01:53, 20 July 2019 (UTC)

The UK has declared that UK Crown Copyright falls into the public domain worldwide. If we could get assurances from the countries that their works leaving copyright world-round, that would be best.
IIRC: The US, which doesn't have copyright for federal works, floated a question in the 1970s to the signers of the Universal Copyright Convention, about whether it could enforce its copyright in federal government works in their countries. The majority were against it, especially (and unsurprisingly) the Soviet Union. It actually makes great sense to let your own citizens use a government work and yet use it to extract money from abroad. (Lots and lots of quibbles with that, but I'm sure that mant politicians would accept that sense.)--Prosfilaes (talk) 05:08, 20 July 2019 (UTC)

I really want to set up Wikipedia law.[edit]

我好想設立維基法律。 設立的基本法律如下。

母法第一條。 GM我們有一切的免罪權,和所有權,聲張權,宣言權,支配權,管理權! 名為國家自然人。 母法第二條。 GM我們有一切的智慧財產權和專利,版權,版稅,權利金,權益金,權力法,智慧財產權保護法。 名為國家自然法。 母法第三條。 各國,所有的國家有所謂的國家核心律法。 無能不就位,無助不收禮,無功不受祿,無德不授勳,無法不受罰,無義不相挺。 母法第四條。 各國,所有的國家有所謂的國家智慧財產權。 母法第五條。 各國,所有的國家必須尊重且服從,並且遵循世界政府的世界管理機構和世界主權管理法。

來設立維基憲法: 聯合國條約。 第一條,王都帝權。 第二條,國家主權。 第三條,國安自主權。 第四條,媒體自主權。 第五條,國家行政主權。 第六條,人民立法議事權。 第七條,國家憲法下保障,國家經濟法,國家行政法,國家刑事權。 第八條,國家憲法下保障,幼生(弱者),友情(信賴),自由(生存),博愛(互助),正義(秩序),平等(司法)。 以上是基本權利。

來設立維基律法: 律法第一條。 在一個國家憲法之下保障七美德之憲法,所賦予人權,生命,財產,發言,名譽等捍衛自身行為的自由。 律法第二條。 在一個國家憲法之下保障律法第一條,國民百姓有,申訴,陳情,訴訟,辯護,反駁,顛覆,平反之權利。 律法第三條。 在一個國家憲法之下保障律法第二條,國民百姓在法庭上享有,公開,議論,討論,辯解,強辯,捍衛的權利。 律法第四條。 在一個國家憲法之下保障律法第三條,國民百姓在法庭上享有,檢舉,開庭,起訴,證據,辯護,投票,審判,裁決,結果的權利,它即是司法程序流程正義。 律法第五條。 在一個國家憲法之下保障律法第四條,國民百姓在法庭上和法庭下,判決結果享有,司法救濟,重新覆議,重新審核,舉報違失,體制疏失等權利。


GM管理者處理中心。 GM管理者聊天室。 GM管理者人事處。 GM管理者司法庭。 GM部落格授權處。 GM部落格程式編輯處。 用戶使用者申訴中心。 用戶使用者議事堂。 用戶使用者檢舉處。 用戶使用者國家檢舉處。 用戶使用者部落格授權處。 用戶使用者部落格程式編輯處。


順便來成立維基新聞百科。 此維基資料都在裡面。 報社不能夠成為構成違反法律條件,還請明細了解之,謝謝。 報社聲明只是一則宣告的提示作用,算是一個布告欄,不是法律。 法律簽屬請以限時國家與國家,兩個人以上的書寫文本合約,合同,條約,契約,文書,規章,現實物品作為規範。 假新聞氾濫的緣故,各大國家利益的報導不依據真實性坦述,有違反真相保護原則和真實惡意原則的國家&人權&組織&東西的真實性。

來設立世界管理機構之下的世界管理局。 世界管理局之一 維基權威百科。 維基主權百科。 維基法律百科。 維基世紀百科。 維基國家百科。 維基歷史百科。 維基文獻百科。 維基文化百科。 維基事典百科。 維基偉人百科。 維基知識百科。 維基科技百科。 維基鍊金百科。 維基料理百科。 維基攻略百科。 維基遊戲百科。 維基新聞百科。

不好意思,獻醜了。 但這是我的一個希望阿。 我居住台灣,美國最大我知道,可是中美貿易戰的美國利益,總統常常綁架聯合國會員組織,我知道了事實也很困擾。 我一直很希望我們能夠有個公平的體系,提供正確的史實資料給民眾參考,這是參考,不是依據,民眾常常會被誤導,但我們的工作平台百科希望有一個讓世界國民有一個明確的信仰精神指標。 我們不是神明,但是,是領袖,必須領導著大眾公平的有法庭,法官裁判長,評審員,起訴方,被起訴方,雙方辯護律師,公證人,來保障世界遺產還有人類的智慧結晶才行。 我知道,我們的知識可能會因為某部份人的專業而更改,因為某部分的人認知和翻譯而更改,維基上的編輯有如小孩子般的玩具,容易被知識和識別給迷惑,可是我們是想做的是,不是因為我們是法律白癡的一個獨裁世界,我們不是聖賢,我們是一群收集全世界愛好的知識寶庫的博物館管理所!

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Sro730615 (talk • contribs) 08:27, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
While there is such a thing as international law, it doesn't operate in the way you may think. It is more akin to general agreements between countries. When one country refuses to cooperate with others, there is usually little that other countries can do about it. In some extreme situations there are sanctions or even war, but usually those are levied by strong against the week. For example, when USA or Russia ignore nuclear non-proliferation treaty and create new weapons and refuse to destroy already existing ones, nobody says anything, but if a weak country tries to create peaceful atomic power stations then all hell breaks loose. Now, let's say you will create those articles you speak of... how are you planning to enforce them. Let's say we have country A that says "We don't care", are you planning to ... arrest that country? If you want to have a paper that says something, then go ahead, print your new law and follow it, but it will have no power to influence others, untill you can threaten people with force. ℺ Gone Postal ( ) 08:52, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

License for Louisiana death certificate, 1967[edit]

I have a death certificate for a person who died in New Orleans in 1967 which I would like to upload to his Wikipedia biography. The Louisiana State Archives advised me that a Louisiana death certificate issued more than 50 years ago is considered a "public record" and not copyrighted (meaning it should be OK to upload to Commons). However, there doesn't seem to be a suitable Commons license for the State of Louisiana under Category:PD-USGov license tags (non-federal). We have PD-CAGov and PD-FLGov for California and Florida, but not for Louisiana. Suggestions? Muzilon (talk) 00:55, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

Public record is not the same thing as public domain. I presume they mean that after 50 years there are no more privacy issues, such that the state can give such documents out if there is a public record request. When it comes to a death certificate though, hard to imagine there is anything copyrightable on it to begin with. "Blank forms" is one of the items the Copyright Office says are not copyrightable. I guess if there is some sort of pictorial work on there maybe, although of course if there is no copyright notice on the form then the form itself is PD-US-no_notice regardless (since the forms were absolutely published). There would have to be something copyrightable in the information added to the form, which seems unlikely but possible, if someone wrote a paragraph or something. Maybe {{PD-ineligible}} ? Carl Lindberg (talk) 04:00, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
By way of comparison see the California death certificates of Michael Jackson and Sylvia of Hollywood, which are on Commons under {{PD-CAGov}}. Muzilon (talk) 09:03, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
Issues of copyright aside, even if a death certificate was public domain and on Commons, editorial discretion may preclude its inclusion in encyclopedia articles (too many news clippings and primary sources tend to make articles more resemble scrap books than encyclopedia articles). MOS:TEXTASIMAGES discourages using images to convey text, and it's often better to simply cite or summarize primary sources. But such style guidelines do not apply to Commons. --Animalparty (talk) 04:25, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
Fair enough, although nobody seems to have objected thus far in the case of Charles Dickens (among others). Muzilon (talk) 09:03, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
See Commons:Village pump/Copyright/Archive/2019/10#File:Dana Plato's official death certificate.jpg for a somewhat similar discussion. Note that file was removed from the English Wikipedia article about en:Dana Plato for reasons related to what Animal Party said above, which I agree with, but is still being used in the French Wikipedia article about her. So, whether it’s used in an article may depend upon a consensus established on the relevant Wikipedia. There’s no consensus on English Wikipedia that states such images absolutely cannot be used, but it’s something that seems to be discouraged per TEXTASIMAGES and might have a hard time at en:WP:FFD if challenged unless there’s a really strong contextual justification for doing so. Just for reference, it seems that using a file such as this would be near impossible to justify as non-free content per en:WP:FREER and en:WP:NFC#CS absent some serious sourced commentary (e.g. some widely covered controversy about its appearance) about the certificate itself. — Marchjuly (talk) 21:15, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
In the case of Dana Plato's death certificate, there seems to have been an additional legal question as to whether Oklahoma state law allows a death certificate to be reproduced online before a certain number of years have elapsed, presumably for privacy reasons. In Louisiana the privacy embargo apparently lapses after 50 years. Other jurisdictions may have longer or shorter embargos – or no embargo at all, as seems to be the case in California. Muzilon (talk) 06:02, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
That was one of the concerns with respect to the copyright status of the file on Commons, but not necessarily the reason why it was removed from the Wikipedia article. Images uploaded to Commons with acceptable licenses may be easier for English Wikipedia to use per en:WP:COPY, but that doesn't mean they should automatically be used or that there's a automatic right granted to those who want use them to do so. Images are ultimately just another kind of article content, and image use can be challenge for reasons unrelated to its licensing; in such cases, it's basically no different from any other content dispute and needs to be resolved in the same way. -- Marchjuly (talk) 21:48, 9 January 2020 (UTC)

For the record, I've noticed there is actually a Commons category called Category:Death_certificates_of_the_United_States. Some of the older (pre-1925) certificates have the license {{PD-US}}. Most of the more recent certificates have the rationale {{PD-ineligible}} and/or {{PD-text}}. Muzilon (talk) 22:41, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

If there is a better license to use than PD-ineligible, it would make sense to use that, since that rationale can be very different between countries. For such blank forms published before 1989, they are almost certainly PD-US-no_notice, and probably PD-ineligible as well, though I guess some of the fancy engraved backgrounds and/or borders may qualify for copyright. The information added is likely not eligible either, unless maybe there were some paragraphs of text written in or something like that, so overall I would not have any problem calling it PD-ineligible. The form itself was obviously published before 1989 and is PD-US-no_notice, while the additional information would be PD-ineligible, to me. If the certificates are old enough to use other tags which are more certain, by all means use those though. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:37, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
It's a very plain death certificate (no fancy state logos/seals/artwork or anything), with basic details handwritten by the attending doctor, dated 1967. I guess one could split technical hairs over whether the certificate was not "published" until the end of 2017. Louisiana state law says (RS 40 §36.G) that death certificates don't become become public records until fifty years after the person's death. Muzilon (talk) 00:10, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
The form itself (before anything is written on it) was definitely published. Carl Lindberg (talk) 00:39, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Sesame Street[edit]

This image, yay or nay?

Due to reasons(TM) I would like to start a discussion if this is acceptable on Commons. In my understanding, this is acceptable as per COM:COSTUME[1][2][3], but other arguments have been raised (elsewhere) that since this is a stage production, the character's positions and poses on the stage might be creative in nature, and warrant some kind of copyright protection, something which I'm of the opposite opinion. I would like for the community to weigh in on this one. --Jonatan Svensson Glad (talk) 23:03, 8 January 2020 (UTC)


  1. Similar to File:Spiderman and child.jpg which was kept
  2. The design of the costumes themselves are not the focus, but the action of the actors as well as being "multiple costumes" (refer to "If the costume is not the central focus of the image but only an incidental feature, or one among many costumes, it is likely to be considered de minimis.")
  3. Also, are some of the character's design even copyrightable to begin with per COM:TOO?
I don't think we can use de minimis off the bat in this case. The photographer clearly intended to include the characters in the photo, and the costumes are part of the character. The inclusion isn't incedental, and the character is described in the caption.
The other argument that the positioning of the characters is somehow copyrightable is also not convincing. In general, movement on stage outside of a choreographed dance or pantomime is not protected by copyright. The information in this photo does not indicate that the movement of the actors was choreographed, instead, it indicates that their positioning is uncopyrightable human movement.
Now on to the actually interesting point of the copyrightability of the costume itself. COM:COSTUME cites a 2011 WMF Legal position based on a 1991 US Copyright Office policy decision, which considers a "fanciful costume" to be a useful article, and thus not subject to copyright protection. I did not find any newer guidance that would change this determination, including after the Star Athletica ruling. A portion of the costume as a whole may be copyrigtable if it can be physically or conceptually seperated from the useful portions of the article. The original ruling contains some guidance on this seperability test, and the most recent draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition (revised 03/15/2019) contains updated guidance on the matter in §924. The costumes of Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Grover are not copyrightable as they are too simple and have no even potentially seperable elements. The costume of Katie, however, is considerably more complex. This costume has clothing, and clothing is treated by Star Athletica under the same useful articles rule as costumes. The clothing does not appear to have any elements with "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural qualities", only uncopyrigtable patterns. Same with the shoes. The overall shape of the costume can't be copyrighted (Draft Compendium § 924.3(F)), so that leaves only the face and hair. I beleive that these elements are likely to pass the seperability test as a sculptural work. The elements of this portion of the costume, when considered individually, are below the threshold of originality. When combined, however, they may cross the line into copyrightability. The green costume is somewhere between Katie and the other three in terms of complexity, but I do not believe it is copyrightable.
The first, and as far as I can tell, only apellate application of Star Athletica has been Silvertop Associates Inc.. This Third Circuit decision applied copyright protection to a bannana costume based on the the sculptural features including "the banana's combination of colors, lines, shape, and length". The Third Circuit cites case law in that circuit, Kay Berry v. Taylor Gifts that determined that elements should be considered as a combination, not in isolation. The Third Circuit includes New Jersey, where the photo was taken. Other circuits have different case law about the number of elements that can be combined or must be combined to be copyrightable, that's covered in meta:Wikilegal/Copyright threshold of originality for logos. The 9th Circuit, which covers WMF headquarters, requires six combined elements.
Considering all this, the head of the Kate costume, which is part of the main focus of the image, may be protected by copyright. The status is borderline and could depend on jurisdictional issues. The element itself may be de minimis, but I doubt that. --AntiCompositeNumber (talk) 04:33, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
It's a difficult question. As noted directly above, there have been several cases which have found certain costumes to be copyrightable. However, they have generally involved competing manufacturers, where one company is making a copy of the costume itself (or very close to it). I'm not aware of a case which has ruled a *photo* of someone wearing a costume as a derivative work of that costume, so it's hard to know where the boundaries are. In the Ets Hokin case, a photo of a bottle was not ruled derivative of a label on that bottle, unless the photo was focusing on the label in particular. In other cases, the label is "incidental", since it's inherently there on the bottle. When it comes to a photo of a costume... is the photo focusing on the costume in particular, or simply depicting the scene where the costume happens to be a part? You can't take a photo of a play (or whatever was going on there) without including the costumes, so in that sense they may be "incidental". The photo is focusing on the entire scene, including the interaction with the kids, not just the costume itself. Similar questions can come up with someone wearing clothes with a copyrightable pattern on them -- are they really derivative? What makes costumes like this harder is that they envelope the entire person. There are photos sold by Getty and others all the time which would include costumes like this, or parade floats, etc. Are they just using an "editorial" fair use exception, or are they truly not derivative works? Does a costume maker get derivative rights over any photos which includes someone wearing the costume? Obviously, some of these photos are often used to illustrated copyrighted characters in articles, so that aspect is definitely important to some uses. But really, I prefer to be able to point to a court case which shows a real issue. Even though the costumes, or maybe just the head/mask portions, may be copyrightable -- I'm not really sure that the photo is derivative. I would prefer to follow more the Ets-Hokin decision, which is only photos primarily focusing on a copyrightable object would likely be derivative, or possibly photos where a copyrightable object was intentionally placed in the scene by the photographer. Even if the head of the Katie costume is copyrightable, the photo is not focusing on it, in my opinion. Carl Lindberg (talk) 22:57, 10 January 2020 (UTC)
I look at de minimis as "would the photo have comparable meaning and use if the [costumes] were not there?" That means either not having the characters there at all, or having their actors in the same positions but wearing regular clothes. In this case, I think "the characters' appearance, as those characters" is intrinsic to the image, not incidental. DMacks (talk) 23:31, 10 January 2020 (UTC)
I looked at previous DR of Sesame Street characters, and they have generally gone delete. Commons:Deletion requests/Derivative works of Sesame Street puppets is a major discussion with cited court cases and analysis of WMF position. I don't think these are merely clothing-like costumes (not "person character wearing identifiable clothing")--a court found a third-party en:Barney the Dinosaur costume to infringing. Instead at least some parts of multiple are protected (per separability)...Grover's face seems at least as protectable as Katie's (exact shape of all features together, not just human-ish details of a human-ish subject). Multiple DR, such as Commons:Deletion requests/File:General Dempsey, Kermit the Frog, and Michelle Obama (13115214803).jpg, found that a Muppet can be a protected component and that an image specifically highlighting that character is a DR. Taking a step back to discuss costumes, the characters being represented all originally puppets not people wearing costumes, so "a character wearing the same costume as a character would wear" is off-target (compare to Barney, where even the original is a person in a costume) I think. DMacks (talk) 17:38, 11 January 2020 (UTC)
Correct, this is not the legal de minimis policy -- more of an "incidental" aspect. A photo of a liquor bottle with the label was ruled to not be derivative of the label, even though it was prominent in the photo. That is certainly not de minimis, but it was also not derivative, so it's a different legal situation (even though that situation is subsumed in our de minimis policy page). Similarly, I think France called it the "theory of the accessory" -- a photo of a street with a prominent building was ruled to be not derivative of the building, even though it was highly prominent in the photo. The test of "would the photo have comparable meaning and use if the [costumes] were not there?" would be the wrong test to use in that case, as they would fail, but they were ruled not derivative. In those situations, if the photographer was capturing a wider scene than just the copyrighted work, and the copyrighted work is inherently there, then the photo would not be derivative. This is why we keep photos of the entire Louvre square, even when the copyrighted Louvre pyramid is prominent and centered. There is no way to capture a photo of that entire performance without including the costumed characters, so it seems a similar situation to me. However, photographer control over the scene can have an effect -- I do remember reading a ruling where a fashion photographer had a model add a pair of fancy glasses, which turned out to be copyrighted. In that situation, the glasses were not inherently there (the other clothing was the subject), and they were added to enhance the photo's expression, and it was ruled derivative. So a photo where the photographer lines up or otherwise arranges some puppets, would not be OK. To me though, this photo is not focusing on the characters in particular, but is capturing a wider scene, so to me is "incidental". A crop focusing on one of the characters in particular would cross over that line though. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:47, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Personally, this brings me to the same question I had over this DR where it's an image of a train with copyrighted anime characters on it (specifically, from Oreimo); is it incidental if the image could be argued to be about the whole thing? In my opinion, whether in terms of de minimis or capturing the wider scene, both images cannot be freely reused without risking action by their creators, especially since the copyrighted elements are mentioned in the titles, descriptions, and categories of the images. By the way, please contribute to the DR I linked to earlier; I meant for it to be a discussion on cases like this due to how ambiguous it felt to me. Ultimately, though, I have no problem striking down thousands of images of possibly legally-dubious images. -BRAINULATOR9 (TALK) 23:01, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
Risking action by their creators is not a standard I'd necessarily encourage. We aren't; the worst they're going to do is send a DCMA to the WMF, and not many of those have shown up. Why would anyone complain about showing a train with some authorized reproductions of the characters, almost certainly right next to the name of the show? Even a direct screencap from the show is unlikely to get a response, or be used in ways that cross fair use. It's only when it's remixed outside the context of identifying the show that they tend to have a solid case; cut out the images of the characters and make a puppet show out of them, or something. I feel our rules here are weird sometimes, because invoking de minimis and not fair use cuts a line between two bodies of law that get interpreted together in the US.
I don't know where that DR falls under Commons rules. But I don't imagine any way to get sued for that picture, short of an extraordinarily litigious copyright holder who could be beat in court, if expensively. I guess you might lose if you were selling it as a stock image, as it's untransformative and complete with respect to the ad.--Prosfilaes (talk) 03:31, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
I think your advocacy for more reliance on fair use lacks a basis in primary goal of Commons, which is to bring together a repository of free images that anyone can use, and for any purpose. Almost no creators would complain if their work was used fairly on Wikipedia. But that is besides the point, this is Commons and reusers, who republish our collection, are a crucial component of our mission. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 12:04, 19 January 2020 (UTC)
Nay – It is clear by the AntiCompositeNumber's analysis that the Kate costume is the most likely to be above TOO and copyrightable. To a lesser degree, the green monster also may be copyrightable. Those two costumes, especially Kate, do not appear to be "incidental" and seem like the clear focus of the image. I also think we errored in keeping Spiderman. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 12:04, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

Question about PD-Iran[edit]

Template:PD-Iran says in part "In the following cases works fall into the public domain after 30 years from the date of publication or public presentation (Article 16)". This is applied to "Photographic or cinematographic works". Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Iran, however, says "Note that this speaks only to financial rights and does not limit the author's exclusive right to publish, etc. The work is therefore not in the public domain". Which is correct? World's Lamest Critic (talk) 23:31, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

I don't understand the statement "the work is therefore not in the public domain". Their law seems to have "intellectual rights", which never expire and are not transferrable (so seemingly like moral rights), and "financial rights", which seem to be more of the economic rights aka copyright. The right of first publication may be the only thing in question, but to qualify for the 30 year term in article 16, that needed to have already happened. I would not use the 30-year term if something was published (or presented to the public) without authorization, but otherwise that would seem to be the copyright term. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:57, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

File:Charn (city).jpg and certain other files categorized regarding The Chronicles of Narnia[edit]

The image File:Charn (city).jpg appears to be an illustration (or possibly a colorized version of an existing illustration) from the book The Magician's Nephew. The book was authored by C.S. Lewis and, according to Wikipedia, illustrated by Pauline Baynes. I am not totally sure as to whether the original illustration was ever officially done in color like the scene shown in the image file or whether an existing black-and-white illustration was unofficially colorized by a third party. Although the image has the CC BY-SA 4.0 International license, it is not clear by any means that the original illustration is out of copyright or that it was officially freely licensed. From looking at the Wikipedia article for the book, the country of origin for the story and illustrations may well be the United Kingdom. Also, from what I understand, a given work must be freely licensed or out of copyright in the US (where Commons is hosted) in order to be accepted on Commons.

(In the event that the image is copyrighted and unsuitable for Commons, there is the question as to whether the image might be usable in the English Wikipedia article Charn (the city where the scene in the illustration takes place) as non-free content. However, I am by no means sure that the image would meet the English Wikipedia non-free content guidelines, especially if the illustration was unofficially colorized.)

On a related note, there appear to be some maps of Narnia that were uploaded to Commons. From these, there is the issue of how copyright applies to a third party producing a map of an existing fictional world or of a region of a fictional world, as opposed to producing a map of a real-life geographic region. (For example, if the world was described and/or illustrated in at least one copyrighted story, does the map maker need permission from the story's copyright holder and/or illustrator?) It is of course possible for a published story about a fantasy world to include one or more officially done maps of that world. Such official maps would not necessarily be freely licensed, though, and producing a new map based on an official one might raise issues of copyright and derivative works.

The following file shows a number of props from one of the Narnia movies. Assuming that the photo itself is freely licensed, there may be a copyright issue with the objects depicted in the photo. (Some time ago, I added a section to Commons:Copyright rules by subject matter about movie props and copyright. It is always possible for that section to be clarified or otherwise improved, if anyone is interested.)

(As an additional note, if the depicted objects are copyrighted and are "works of artistic craftsmanship" on permanent display at The Weta Cave museum in New Zealand, then it might be possible to treat the image as a case of {{FoP-New Zealand}} + {{Not-free-US-FOP}}.)

Finally, there are the following two files, which, from what I understand, show a character resembling the character of Tash from the land of Narnia. I do not know whether these two images would be allowable as fan art or whether they would be infringing derivative works.

--Gazebo (talk) 07:35, 9 January 2020 (UTC)

The first illustration is of course in copyright and thus should be deleted.
The maps ... are unclear. There is an Atlas of Tolkien (ISBN 1626864934), by David Day, that is unauthorized, and I hear that Christopher Tolkien has personally written him a nastygram, but apparently the Tolkien Estate doesn't feel it has enough of a clear claim to justify a lawsuit. As long as you aren't copying another map, the copyright on a map of a literary realm is unclear.
The props would be hard to make a copyright case on; they're actual weapons, and any separable copyrightable parts could be considered de minimis in that photo.
As for Tash, I think that would be permissible fan art. What is it actually copying from the book?--Prosfilaes (talk) 08:15, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
I've sent the first illustration to DR, since it's a pretty clear copyvio.--Prosfilaes (talk) 08:19, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
I nominated File:Narnmap.png since that also appears be a Baynes illustration, from 1972. Agreed on the rest -- it is hard to make a graphic work derivative of a literary work, since you have to identify copied expression. Character copyrights do exist, but if the drawing is just from someone's imagination after reading written descriptions, it would seem more like separate expressions of the same idea. It's possible that there might be a copyright on a "world" if there is enough detail, but making a detailed map with just the place names copied... seems edgy, and don't know of a court case to show that it's a problem, so I would probably keep them until a court case shows where the boundaries are. Obviously though, copied maps (or drawings similar to book illustrations) are entirely a different matter. Carl Lindberg (talk) 15:31, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
@Prosfilaes, Clindberg: Thanks for the feedback. Regarding the character of Tash and the mentioned Tash images on Commons that may be allowable as fan art, the English Wikipedia article about the character contains a color illustration of Tash which is being used in the article as non-free content. Both the article and the image file page indicate that the illustration was done by Pauline Baynes. --Gazebo (talk) 09:19, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Unknown year of death[edit]

What do we do if the death year is unknown? I now has a photo of a building in Kaunas, Lithiania, which was built in 1934. The architect is Adolfas Netyksa (w:ru:Нетыкса, Адольф Адольфович), who was born in 1862. The Wikipedia articles (both Russian and Ukrainian) say that his whereabouts after 1915, including the death year, are unknown. I was searching for the death year, the hits are mainly in Lithuanian, but none says anything about the death year (some say it is unknown). Lithuania has no freedom of panorama. When would the building enter public domain?--Ymblanter (talk) 16:35, 9 January 2020 (UTC)

In countries where works fall into the public domain 70 years after the death of the author, it would be at least in (1915+70=1985) ; let's suppose Adolfas Netyska lived for 90 years, until 1952 (very conservative estimate), then the building would be PD in 2023. Skimel (talk) 16:57, 9 January 2020 (UTC):
But the restoration URAA date for Lithuania is 1996, and if the building was not in PD by 1996, it is copyrighted in the US until 2030--Ymblanter (talk) 18:29, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
Photos of buildings are not derivative works in the U.S. (And buildings completed before 1990 are not copyrightable at all, though that is moot for a photo.) This is just a Lithuanian issue, as we only need a license for the photo for the U.S. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:20, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
Great, thanks. Then we are back to my original question: When does it become free in Lithuania? What is the reasonable age of the author at the death we should assume?--Ymblanter (talk) 19:52, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
Given that we know the architect was born in 1862, we also know that he'd have been dead by 1982 so 2053 would be the worst case scenario. Abzeronow (talk) 19:56, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
{{PD-old-assumed}} uses 120 years from the creation of the work. That seems a bit much when the author's birth date is 72 years before the creation of the work. --ghouston (talk) 03:44, 10 January 2020 (UTC)
Well, even 2053 I will be likely dead anyway, so somebody else will upload the photo.--Ymblanter (talk) 13:27, 10 January 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, PD-old-assumed does not wait until it's completely impossible that someone was still alive -- though it does follow the 120-years-from-creation U.S. rule, which is probably roughly equal to 70pma on average. I'm not sure we also came up with a policy of how long to wait when we know the year of birth but not death. You could extrapolate that if we can find any works by that author more than 120 years old, it may qualify, since I'm not sure it makes sense to delete some works by an author (ones less than 120 years old) and keep others, when all of them are based on the same date of death. I suppose we could also use 90 years old as a general guideline to be reasonably safe, though eve that was somewhat rare in that era, and probably even more rare in Lithuania. According to this site, less than 1% of Lithuania's population in 1950 even made it to age 80. I don't think we have a defined policy, but I wouldn't try to delete something like this if PD-old-assumed were used. Under 1% is nowhere near a "significant doubt" to me. Carl Lindberg (talk)
I don't think you can use those numbers to derive that stat. It doesn't really tell much if anything about the life expectancy of someone who was 47 in 1915.
Assuming 120 years for someone who was 20 years old when the work was created gives a life expectancy of 70 years for life+70; that would assume this author died in 1932. If we assume that 120 years assumes someone was 40 years old when the work was created, that's a life expectancy of 90 years, which would give this author an assumed death date of 1952, still in copyright in the EU. It's all about the discretion.--Prosfilaes (talk) 05:29, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, you're right -- I guess you need to know the number of births 80 years prior, then use that data to calculate how many of those were still alive, etc. I do remember seeing that the chance of living to 100 in the UK was infinitesimal around 1900, and living to 90 was rather rare as well, but did increase after that -- but can't find that data anymore. Though did find this, which seems to say that the median age probably hasn't changed all that much if you take out infant mortality, plagues, etc. -- roughly 70 years old. If we were going to have a rule based on date of birth, as another type of PD-old-assumed, I'd probably say that 90 years would be around that level. Not sure we have a guideline though, so this particular one may be more of a "gut feel" decision. In real life... if you do get sued, and the date of death becomes known that way and it was used within 70pma, that would be infringement. Unless countries implement some "orphan works" provisions, you basically need to hope that some heir doesn't come out of the woodwork with information showing less than 70pma has passed. Carl Lindberg (talk) 05:54, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
On the other hand, if we're being specific about things, this guy disappeared in the Moscow area (if I'm reading the Russian WP article correctly) around 1915. The odds he survived the Russian Revolution, the early years of the Soviet Union, and WWII seems not great.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:23, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
Presumably he was still alive in Kaunas in 1934 (unless they used a project from years ago), but it is indeed unlikely he survived the 1940 Russian occupation and then the war.--Ymblanter (talk) 08:38, 19 January 2020 (UTC)
Thanks everybody for the reactions. I now uploaded the file of the building, File:V. Putvinskio 54 Kaunas.jpg. Everybody is welcome to nominate it for deletion (preferably with the link here), and if the result would be delete, we can at least add the category Undelete in 20xx.--Ymblanter (talk) 19:14, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

Creating a free(?) recording of a copyrighted(?) arrangement of a public domain work (Rhapsody In Blue)[edit]

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue apparently entered into the public domain this year. I have a piano arrangement of it which is “© Copyright 2010 Dorsey Brothers Music Limited”; as far as I understand, that’s a “derivative work” under US copyright, but its copyright protection only covers the changes or additional original creation of the new arranger, not the original work. Am I allowed to create a recording of this arrangement and publish it under a Creative Commons license on Wikimedia Commons? (And does it make any difference that I live in Germany?) --Lucas Werkmeister (talk) 21:31, 9 January 2020 (UTC)

Actually, it looks like my arrangement is in the public domain as well \o/ I checked IMSLP, and they have this arrangement (permalink), by Gershwin himself, published 1924, and it’s identical to the “copyright 2010” one I have – down to the exact layout of the score, kneed beams, cautionary accidentals, everything – except that my copy is missing the ossia on page 5 of the original. That should mean I’m in the clear, right? --Lucas Werkmeister (talk) 21:42, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
As far as I can see, you're clear in the US and in Germany.--Prosfilaes (talk) 05:05, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Use of Google Earth in helping to trace the layouts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.[edit]

Hello, I would appreciate if I could be provided with assistance in dealing with this matter.

For many years, I have been uploading and updating many SVG maps of the Singapore MRT network, alongside other maps relating to Singapore. Some examples are listed here:

Every single one of these maps features the outline of Singapore and her dependent territories, which I have traced from Google Earth. I have recently been notified that the use of Google Earth as a reference is not actually allowed and they should be submitted for deletion, hence my linking of them directly here. However, before proceeding with such a drastic step, would there be any way to save these maps, such as redrawing the islands and landmass with OpenStreetMap? Personally, I don't see the point as it would more or less be the same but the legalities of the matter are beyond my comprehension. Seeking your advice. Thank you. Seloloving (talk) 17:23, 11 January 2020 (UTC)

I do not think that the outline itself is protected by copyright. Ruslik (talk) 19:02, 11 January 2020 (UTC)
Google has a copyright on the photos themselves (or licensed them from the copyright owners), but do not own a copyright on the coastlines themselves. If you copied someone's exact map outlines, or especially copied other elements from another map, there could be an issue, but if you are tracing coastlines from photographs I don't see any copyright issue. Copyright in photographs are on the elements of framing, timing, angle, etc. A straight-down angle is not copyrightable, and tracing does not copy any other aspects of the photo, so I don't see that any expression would be copied. Carl Lindberg (talk) 20:19, 11 January 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, I would argue that natural lines like that would not be copyrightable, and for that matter, that's edging into the "data" exception for copyright. I think you're fine. Huntster (t @ c) 06:50, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
Thank you all, for your assistance in the matter. Seloloving (talk) 15:56, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

Auschwitz liberation film copyright (PD-Russia-exempt)[edit]

I'm wondering if the Auschwitz liberation film (claimed to be public domain here and here; uploaded to commons here) and screenshots thereof (for instance, these images on commons, and possibly this one) are public domain. It was filmed by Soviet military in January and February 1945, and made public on February 19, 1946 at the Nuremberg trial. Possibilities for being public domain:

  1. Since Russia copyright was 50 years from disclosure at the time of the URAA date, I believe the film would have narrowly missed that cutoff.
  2. It might qualify under {{PD-RU-exempt}} as "news reports on events and facts, which have a purely informational character (daily news reports, television programs...".
  3. Another theory is that they were released into the public domain by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and/or Belarussian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography. But Ymblanter thinks that that the third rationale is faulty because neither is the copyright holder.

Can any Russia copyright experts confirm if {{PD-RU-exempt}} would apply here? Buidhe (talk) 07:34, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

Nationality of a derivative work[edit]

Regarding Commons:Deletion requests/File:Stamp of Israel - King David by Marc Chagall.jpg I really don't understand how a derivative of a French work by a French artist may be under the copyright law of another country than France. Have you any idea? --Patrick Rogel (talk) 16:18, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

Because the stamp was published in another country. Ruslik (talk) 20:28, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
@Ruslik0: It's shown in the DR. Painting has been made in France (in Vence), first unveiled 1962 in France and then used as a stamp in 1969 in Israel. Hence the question: how a French work by a French painter becomes an Israelian one? --Patrick Rogel (talk) 21:40, 12 January 2020 (UTC)
The stamp is an Israelian work. This is what really matters. Ruslik (talk) 16:10, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
No, only the text is Israelian (and anyway not copyrightable), the painting is French. It doesn't explain the change of copyright law work is submitted to. --Patrick Rogel (talk) 16:33, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
Nothing had changed. The stamp had been always under Israelian law. Ruslik (talk) 17:06, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
A permission to use from the painter is not a transfer of copyright. Works doesn't change of nationality. --Patrick Rogel (talk) 17:17, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
It is a permission to use a work on a stamp under conditions set by Isralian law. Ruslik (talk) 07:29, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
Even accepting for argument that Israeli law is going to matter for rule of the shorter term in this case, the license text says "It was created more than 50 years ago (i.e. before 1 January 1970), and the State's copyright has therefore expired according to §§42–43 of the 2007 statute PROVIDING THAT The State of Israel was the first owner of copyrights on this work" which seems to be clearly not the case here.--Prosfilaes (talk) 10:00, 15 January 2020 (UTC)

License offered by Upload Wizard needs updating[edit]

The Upload Wizard should have been updated by the end of the previous year. It still offers "The copyright has definitely expired in the USA: First published in the United States before 1924" instead of 1925. --Jan Kameníček (talk) 18:51, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

File:Looking Back Winston-Salem Mural.jpg[edit]

This is a mural painted on the side of a building. There is FoP for buildings in the US per COM:FOP United States, but not for 3D works or art and not really for murals per COM:CB#Murals. This is not really taken straight on and even though it does show sort of a scene, I don't think it's COM:DM or otherwise incidental since the focus of the photo seems to obviously be the mural. The file's description states the mural was painted in 1998 by some students, so it's relatively recent and not quite anonymous. The licensing on the photo seems fine, but not sure if that sufficient to cover the mural itself. Can this be kept as licensed or is a license/permission needed for the mural? -- Marchjuly (talk) 23:54, 12 January 2020 (UTC)

Yeah, that is focusing on the mural to me. It was done in 1998, so no PD-US-no_notice possibilities. The primary artist was apparently Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet. Carl Lindberg (talk) 00:16, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for taking a look at this Clindberg. Do you think either a COM:DR or tagging with {{Dw-nsd}} is warranted in this case? Perhaps the file's uploader Breawycker can clarify things. -- Marchjuly (talk) 02:23, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
I prefer DRs, as they better inform the uploader and leave a better record. Besides, not sure that derivative works of that nature really qualify for speedy -- copying a screenshot probably, but free photos of a copyrighted object probably should get a second opinion from an admin in a DR. Carl Lindberg (talk) 05:09, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Hi, I need some assistance proving my ownership of this work[edit]

Hi, I've been taking series of pictures of this musician ever since the beginning of his career ('80s and '90). For the use on his profile article on wikipedia I recently uploaded a low resolution version of one of these pictures, which has been now proposed for deletion: To the EXIF "accusation", I must say this was an analog picture, the digitalised versions are scans of the original. Of course I have high resolution versions of it in different formats, which I'm willing to show to anyone interested in solving this problem. I just did not like to upload them here to be used and downloaded for free, since after all this is my profession and income source. But I'd be very happy if the smaller version of this picture could be left here to serve its informative purpose.

Could an administrator please help me show proof of my ownership, and assist me in solving this issue? I'm not very skilled in defending my point on the right pages (I can't even figure out how to do my own signature) and I'm afraid my own word does not ammount to much. Thank you! I'll attempt a signature - again! --{\}
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Vintagenie (talk • contribs) 11:38, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
You should follow Commons:OTRS but there is some doubt that as matter of law you can release a low resolution version under a free licence while not also releasing the high resolution version under the same license. Ruslik (talk) 17:09, 14 January 2020 (UTC)

File deleted[edit]

How long is it necessary to wait for the user who deleted my file to respond to a message before I file an undeletion request? I believe the file was deleted in error (the file appears to be dual-licensed under CC-BY 3.0 and CC-BY-NC 2.1), and it's left the corresponding Wikipedia article without any image of its subject, which I'd like to get fixed ASAP. Thanks. YorkshireLad (talk) 18:09, 14 January 2020 (UTC)

One week is enough. Ruslik (talk) 07:27, 15 January 2020 (UTC)

Image copyright[edit]

Moved from Help desk#Image copyright

Person A paints a portrait of Person B, and gives it as a gift (or sells it) to B. Person C (with B's blessing) takes a high-quality photo of the portrait and uploads it to Commons. Person A dies. Does the estate of person A still own the copyright, or did B have the right to permit C to donate the copyright and place the image in the public domain? --The Huhsz (talk) 22:56, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Person A still holds the copyright which does not expire until 70 years after their death, this varies on country, unless there's evidence they've transferred their rights to Person B.--BevinKacon (talk) 23:03, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
And in most countries that transfer must occur in writing (or, in the event of death of someone who lacks a will, they typically are lumped with the bulk of the estate). - Jmabel ! talk 01:34, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
The Huhsz next time use this space to questions about copyright.
In public domain no.
Public domain happens when the author loose all the rights about the media.
If the A do not passed all the patrimonial rights to B, you have to wait 70 years from the date of death.
If A passed all the patrimonial right to B, B can select one free license (diferent from a public domain) and then you can upload here.
The moral rights, who is the author of the photo, in some countries, is inalienable, so even with A sold the patrimonial rights the media to B, B must said that the media was taken by A.
-- Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton m 07:02, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
As mentioned above, copyright ownership is usually separate from the ownership of the actual item, and the treatment can differ by country (and *when* the gift was made, as laws change, and it would often be the law at the time of the sale/gift/transfer which can apply). For one example, the UK used to have the commissioning party own the copyright on such works. They have changed now, though. Australia's law still has a clause where, for a "valuable consideration", the "taking of a photograph for a private or domestic purpose, the painting or drawing of a portrait or the making of an engraving by the other person", the copyright will be with the commissioning party, with some caveats (some rights may still be with the author). The Netherlands has a separate "portrait right", where copyright is still owned by the author, but the person pictured has some additional control and you may need permission from one or both parties depending on what you want to do. The U.S. never used to specify who owned copyright for commissioned works, so cases went both ways, but since 1978 the author owns the copyright and any transfer must be in writing. Acts which happened before 1978 are still subject to the old, imprecise law. There are still some countries where the transfer/sale of photographic negatives imply the transfer of the copyright if not otherwise specified. The copyright term (when based on a year of death) will always be based on the original human author though, no matter who owns the copyright. Carl Lindberg (talk) 21:03, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Thanks all, especially Rodrigo.Argenton for moving this to the correct venue. I assure you that next time I will honour your request to use this space to questions about copyright. What prompted this question was Commons:Deletion requests/File:Bill Skinner by Alasdair Gray, 1968 to 2017.jpg and Commons:Deletion requests/File:Nude, 1984. Ink on brown paper.jpg. I'm afraid you have confirmed my worst suspicions that these files are not suitable for Commons, where a photographer has gifted a copyright which was not his to gift. --The Huhsz (talk) 21:41, 16 January 2020 (UTC)


I have uploaded File:National Assembly of Wales logo (white on orange).png, which the National Assembly of Wales has posted to Flickr with a CC-BY-2.0 license.[6]

Various versions of this logo have been uploaded to several Wikipedias, presumably as non-free files:

Unfortunately the Wikipedia versions are in different colours and have text, so the free file is not a direct replacement for the Wikipedia articles.

  1. Does the free file fatally undermine the usage rationales of the non-free files?
  2. Can we now upload non-free files to Commons as CC-BY-2.0, on the basis that they are a combination of a logo to which this free license has been applied and simple text?
  3. If somebody reconstructed one of the non-free files as a derivative version of the free file, could this be freely licensed? Would the font be a licensing problem?

Verbcatcher (talk) 20:46, 16 January 2020 (UTC)

Problem of FOP Hong Kong[edit]

According to COPYRIGHT ORDINANCE (Cap. 528) Section 71:, it seems it is OK to keep 2D works and not violate the copyright issue. I think that content of COM:FOP Hong Kong page is misleading.

  • 下列各項並不屬侵犯該等作品的版權 ——
    • (a)製作表述該等作品的平面美術作品;(b)為該等作品拍照或攝製影片
  • The copyright in such a work is not infringed by—
    • (a)making a graphic work representing it; (b)making a photograph or film of it;

However, the problem is the translation between Chinese and English version have different meaning that is not clear for some users. In Chinese version 平面美術作品 means 2D artwork in English. But in English version, only use "graphic work" to represent 平面美術作品. Therefore, the picture related to 2D works can keep if we see in Chinese version.--Wpcpey (talk) 05:37, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Section 71:
  • (1) This section applies to—
    • (a) buildings; and
    • (b) sculptures, models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship, if permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public.
So the original work must only be 3D. It is OK to take a picture of a 3D work but not a 2D one. COM:FOP Hong Kong is correct. --Wcam (talk) 11:27, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

But you only focus in part (1) and ignore part (2) requirement--Wpcpey (talk) 11:45, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Correct -- you can make a 2-D artwork of a sculpture or building. You can't make, for example, a sculpture of a sculpture (that would just be a copy). Part (1) is the works you can represent, and part (2) is the allowed forms of the representation. This is basically identical to the United Kingdom FoP. "Works of artistic craftsmanship" usually refers to applied art, i.e. items with a functional purpose but also containing some expression, though courts have been loathe to identify good boundaries. I think it's possible that some works of artistic craftsmanship could be 2-D, but those would be more rare. But, normal 2-D works like paintings or murals would not seem to qualify, so making a 2-D graphic work (like a photograph or drawing) of another 2-D work (which is not a work of artistic craftsmanship) does not appear to be allowed, as I guess that would be too close to a real "copy". Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:06, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Images Used in the News and/or on Third-Party Sales Sites[edit]

Hello, all. I'm adding a new Wikipedia article regarding a plane crash that occurred in 1990 in the Philippines. There is a picture of the crash hosted on the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (BAAA), which is a non-profit site that aggregates data about plane accidents. Even though there is a copyright disclaimer on the site itself, there is no information regarding who originally took the photo or where the BAAA site got it. My questions:

(1) If I found the image from a public news site, such as the AP or UPI, would I be able to upload it to the Wikipedia article?

(2) Regarding the BAAA site, would it be sufficient if I were to contact the site owner and get their permission to use the image (assuming they were unable to provide the source information for me to contact directly)?

So, my second scenario: there is a picture of the accident aircraft itself on a postcard which is up for sale on a specialized collectors' website: Putting aside the watermark issue, I assume that this is not considered public domain for Wikipedia purposes?

The postcard lists the publisher as being located in Switzerland. My questions:

(3) If I contact the publisher and get their permission to use the image, or if they give me the contact info to the photographer and I get his permission to use the image, am I okay to use the postcard image with the watermark, or should I crop the photo to remove the watermark?

(4) Does the third-party website using the image to sell the physical postcard have any other claim to the image?

(5) If neither the publisher nor author are able to be contacted despite diligent good-faith efforts, is there any way to use the postcard image, with or without the collectors' website watermark, for purposes of posterity?

I've searched through the FAQs already and found very little guidance relevant to this situation. Thanks for any help you can provide.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Javelin98 (talk • contribs) 19:59, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Hey Javelin98. The short-and-sweet of it is that permission for use on Wikipedia is basically meaningless for our purposes. Commons only accepts content that is licensed for free use for anyone. In these cases, Wikipedia is simply "an anyone" under a free license like the Creative Commons one that Wikipedia itself is published under.
If an image is released under a free license, for it to be valid, it has to be done by the copyright holder. That normally means the person who took the photo, unless they had a contractual relationship with some other person or organization specifically transferring the intellectual property rights.
This is the same for purchasing images. In the same way that purchasing a copy of a movie at the video store means you own a physical copy of the movie, but you don't own the intellectual property behind the movie, and you can't go selling the rights for someone to make the new Indiana Jones movie based on your physical possession of a DVD. GMGtalk 20:24, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Okay, thanks! So, for non-attributed photos posted on news outlets, even if the photos were taken in a public space, they can't be used on Wikipedia without the original photographer's express permission (or that person's official agent)?
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Javelin98 (talk • contribs) 20:40, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

Template:LGPL Wording[edit]

All the LGPL license templates begin with "This library is free software", but shouldn't it be "This work is free software" like in Template:AGPL and Template:GPL? Hopefully someone with permission to change these protected pages can change this.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Doublah (talk • contribs) 05:50, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Yes, the wording seems to be strange. Ruslik (talk) 19:34, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
The LGPL was the "Library" version of the GPL originally (used mostly for software libraries), though it is now officially named the "Lesser" version since it can have a wider scope. Probably should change the wording though. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:40, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

Category:Finna review needed image licenses[edit]

Hello, I have come across File:Mikonkatu 23, 25, 27, 29 (= 19, 21, 23, 25). N153 (hkm.HKMS000005-0000000w).jpg and File:Itäinen Heikinkatu 5, 3, 1 (= Mannerheimintie 1). N305 (hkm.HKMS000005-0000000v).jpg which are in Category:Finna review needed where the images (granted, I have only checked a few at random) appear to all be listed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. However, in talking with ~riley and reviewing the previously mentioned files, {{PD-Finland50}} and {{PD-US}} appear to be more applicable licenses due to the author's age as they are in PD. Is there something I am missing here? I want to confirm before I move forward as the category has hundreds of files likely in the same situation. --TheSandDoctor (talk) 07:39, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

I have not checked the situation, but I suppose there may be two reasons for the licence: the publisher thinks not all images are PD, and gives a default licence (thinking they own the copyright, which they might not do), and the EU copyright like right on first publication of PD images. The latter may be relevant for many of the images, if they are from private collections. --LPfi (talk) 18:44, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Just some notes about copyright development in Finland. The Helsinki city museum is afaik changing the licences of the old photos (like photos by Signe Brander) so they would be public domain/CC0 in Finna. However, there are technical reasons which will define when this will actually happen. Secondly, a more definite thing is that because the new copyright directive from European union says that digital copies of works of visual arts that are in the public domain shall remain in the public domain so this will be mandatory after the directive is implemented to Finnish law. However, Helsinki city museum was planning this change even before the directive (and they supported the public domain interpretation of directive) so for them, it is currently waiting for those technical blockers will be solved. --Zache (talk) 19:13, 18 January 2020 (UTC)


Is this file legally ok? Looks like it's traced/copied from other sources. File lists 15 sources, but all of these sources seem non-free. (Same would go for File:Bihar.India.png which uses this.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Doublah (talk • contribs) 09:28, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

Same same - atribution?[edit]

Hi! I'm trying to clean up on and came across lb:Schabloun:Bild-by. I think it is the same as Template:Attribution. But it seems Commons have 2 categories: Category:Images requiring attribution and Category:Attribution and on both categories it is said that files end there if you add the template "Attribution". Also it seems wikidata have 2 categories for those images wikidata:Q8924947 and wikidata:Q8450949 (and perhaps also wikidata:Q2132119). Should some categories and wiki-links be merged? --MGA73 (talk) 13:57, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

Lovecraft manuscripts free enough for Commons?[edit]

On request of a user I've imported 4 scans of single hand-written manuscript pages by H.P. Lovecraft (d. 1937) from :en Wikipedia, all of which are sourced to the Howard P. Lovecraft collection at Brown University Library, where they are stated to be out of copyright in the US.[7]. While File:Hplovecraft-thebeastinthecave-manuscript.jpg, written 1905, publ. 1918, is clearly PD, I am a bit less sure about the following three

and would therefore invite for comment/evaluation. Thanks. --Túrelio (talk) 21:18, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

s:Author talk:Howard Phillips Lovecraft, s:Wikisource:Copyright_discussions/Archives/2011-02#Weird_Tales_copyright_renewals_and_other_H._P._Lovecraft_periodical_renewals. All depends on the renewals, and who made them (renewal rights would have reverted to the estate, so they needed to renew, or at least needed to re-transfer rights to other publishers). Carl Lindberg (talk) 22:29, 19 January 2020 (UTC)