Wikipedia talk:Non-U.S. copyrights

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Subsisting copyrights example[edit]

The example uses Canadian photographs as the example, but gives the conditions wrongly. Until 1999, photographs were copyrighted in Canada until 50 years since creation, not p.m.a. That was changed in 1999 to 50 years p.m.a. See Template talk:PD-Canada. Lupo 11:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Corrected now! Physchim62 (talk) 14:19, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Duplicated information[edit]

As List of countries' copyright length had too much unsourced information, I have decided to merge the well sourced table here into that article. Shall we keep that table in that article only or make a template?--Jusjih 07:09, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

The two tables serve (slightly) different purposes, which is why I built this one from scratch rather than take over the table in the article. What is most important for editors is the relation between copyright length and U.S. copyright restoration (i.e., copyright length on 1996-01-01, whereas the article should be NPOV as regards the country of reference. The long term solution is to have articles about the copyright law of each country: for a short term solution, I am open to suggestions. Physchim62 (talk) 08:34, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
So the US copyright restoration dates should be removed from the article to have NPOV, right?--Jusjih 14:23, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
As it stands at the moment, the column for restoration dates is ambiguous and unexplained. The addition of dependent territories into the list is a minor nightmare (particularly for British dependent territories, which thankfully are not all listed: information is very difficult to verify and source, and we get close to original research (allowable in the Wikipedia namespace, but not in article space). Perhaps the solution is to keep the sources in article space and have a smaller table (with US restoration dates) here. Physchim62 (talk) 09:46, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree your opinion. Please explain the part that you consider original research and answer at Talk:List of countries' copyright length#Duplicated information so we can rewrite the article table.--Jusjih 16:35, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
With regards to this page, see the discussion ("Countries affected") in Bilateral copyright agreements of the United States. In many cases we cannot give a definitive reply as to whether a dependent territory or former dependent territory is covered by international copyright agreements. For the list I gave here, I noted that I have some evidence that certain former British Dependent Territories have not changed their copyright laws since independence, which would indicate that they would still be covered by the copyright proclamations of the early 20th century citing "Great Britain and British Possessions" (by reciprocity). On the other hand, it is difficult to prove that a law doesn't exist... Is Greenland covered by Danish copyright law, or does it have its own? I think it is possible to discuss these questions in a useful manner without breaking WP:NOR, but not in a table. Physchim62 (talk) 11:40, 8 November 2006 (UTC)


You should probably advertise this proposal to gain feedback. At the moment there are too few people responding to determine whether it's consensual. (Radiant) 14:26, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

It is advertised here, and was advertised on Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) (although this seems to have been removed by Werdnabot) Feel free to pass the message on that this is under discussion. Physchim62 (talk) 15:44, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
Consensus does not have to come through argument. If this page is so uncontroversial that nobody wishes to comment on it, I would, and indeed have, made it a guideline. Physchim62 (talk) 15:16, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
Since only two people other than me and you have commented on this talk page, I would argue that this page is not consensual since too few people are actually interested in it. I predict that if this page is used in a controversial issue, someone will find the lack of assent here and remove the guideline tag on those grounds. Just a thought to consider. (Radiant) 13:30, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
You hardly do service to the problem of getting people involved in complex copyright questions. I am as aware as you are of the difficulties. However, I cannot admit that we simply stop work on reasonable guidelines simply because there is no discussion. Should I round up people on IRC to make a talk page? If people wish to change the page, let them do so, and let them discuss problems here. This is a much better solution than the current situation where discussion of international copyright problems is dispersed among tens of pages. Physchim62 (talk) 13:47, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I would certainly like to help, but I'm not really all that knowledgeable about copyrights, and I'm not sure how else to get more people here since indeed this page was advertised per the usual. Perhaps you should ask Brad Patrick about the issue, or failing that, CBDunkerson has a legal background. (Radiant) 14:32, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
The fight will come when I try to change the (policy) Wikipedia:Copyrights, or over individual cases. There is no harm in keeping a record of work that has been done, and opening it up to comment. Physchim62 (talk) 16:29, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

I had never seen this page until now. Haukur 00:36, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Source of date[edit]

Where does the beginning date "January 1, 1926" in the General section come from? Is this a moving target (year by year) like the corresponding ending date? - JasonAQuest (talk) 04:36, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Nope, it's a fixed date. It's the URAA date (January 1, 1996 for the large majority of countries) minus 70 years. Lupo 07:30, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Which is it?[edit]


From which author's death is the remaining term counted from when a work is made by a corporation or a group? The last author to work on the stuff? I suppose it would differ from country to country but shouldn't this be mentioned? mike4ty4 (talk) 06:07, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Quick answer:

  • Work made by several authors: copyright runs from the death of the last surviving author. If their contributions are clearly separable (like, different articles in a book published under all authors' names), treat each contribution separately.
  • Work made by a legal entity such as a company: that concept doesn't exist in many countries. In most countries and for most kinds of works, copyright runs based on the physical author's lifetime, even if that initial copyright owner then transferred his rights to a company such as his employer, for instance as part of an employment contract.

Lupo 07:18, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Meaning of "pd" in "photographs 50 pd"[edit]


I know that "pma" stands for "post mortem autoris", but what is the meaning of "pd", as in "photographs 50 pd" in the Australia section ? Teofilo talk 22:47, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I believe "post divulgationem", or something like that. I.e. after publication. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:11, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
It's exactly that. It's a bit of a private abbreviation, I admit, it should really be explained more clearly (we need some abbeviation or the table gets too big). Physchim62 (talk) 10:50, 20 September 2009 (UTC)


Italy is listed among the countries with copyright relations with the United States on January 1, 1923 but then no more information is given. So which is the source? Citation needed! :-) --Jaqen (talk) 18:49, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

This is not an encyclopedic article, so sources may be "implied". As it happens, you are looking for reference 19 (which links here) and shows that the USA (according to their Copyright Office) has had bilateral copyright relations with Italy since October 31, 1892. Physchim62 (talk) 23:26, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

This guideline should not be turned on its head[edit]

This page in a nutshell: Copyright status of a work in its home country is often important in evaluating its copyright status in the United States. Nevertheless, a work which is in the public domain in its home country can sometimes be under copyright in the United States and so can not be used on Wikipedia. However this guideline is being used to justify the idea that images can be taken from UK servers in violation of UK copyright law and then freely uploaded in the US. Now it may be (though I doubt it) that these images were not taken in violation of UK law - but if they were we simply cannot hang onto them on the basis that it would have been legal to take similar images in the US. This is very bad for the reputation of Wikipedia. NBeale (talk) 22:48, 17 July 2009 (UTC)


Hi all. In This section, it states that Japan had copyright relations with the US in 1923. However, in this section, it seemingly says that Japanese-US copyright relations were abrogated between 1906 and 1956. Which one is it? Parsecboy (talk) 13:04, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

They had relations from 1906, I think. However World War II kinda soured relations a bit. As part of the peace treaty, they were trying to renegotiate it (I believe the first relations had a "right of translation" which was a sticking point), so the first agreement was officially abrogated in 1952 (which may mean the note in the Japan section is incorrect). After four years of further negotiation, there was a further agreement in 1956. I think it was pretty much the same, except probably for the translation thing, and also probably stuff related to the Universal Copyright Convention. More information is in this 1953 Library of Congress document (PDF). Carl Lindberg (talk) 18:19, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Ahh, that makes sense. So there were no relations only between 1952-1956? I'm asking because the status of this image from 1925 is PD in Japan, but not necessarily in the US, and it's come up at a current FAC. Parsecboy (talk) 20:57, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
For that image to be copyright in the U.S. it would have had to have been registered and renewed, which seems highly unlikely. Even then, there is the question of the abrogation of relations: the U.S. Copyright Office says relations were "superseded" by the UCC, which implies that we don't have to worry about the old stuff at all. The image is too old for URAA-restored copyright as well. Seems fine to me. Physchim62 (talk) 21:38, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
This link goes into considerably more detail. There was actually a four-year interim agreement between the U.S. and Japan in that period as well (again based on "national treatment" of the others' works). The abrogation officially happened in 1953, but that separate interim agreement was in place which lasted to almost the point where Japan joined the UCC (they had been Berne members for some time). Anyways, this is all mostly irrelevant for old Japanese photos; the term on those was rather short and they all would have expired long before the URAA date and were therefore not restored. Carl Lindberg (talk) 06:13, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for helping me out with this. My understanding is that since the photo was already PD when the URAA came into effect, there is no copyright protection in the US. Is that correct? Parsecboy (talk) 11:44, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Spot on! Physchim62 (talk) 11:56, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

PD dates[edit]

Hi. I've raised a question about the "1911" date for PD status in the United States at the copyrights policy talk page and would very much appreciate feedback there. :) --Moonriddengirl (talk) 11:52, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

MoS naming style[edit]

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 21:00, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

How long protection[edit]

I don't understand the final table: There is a section entitled "Term of protection [Term on URAA date]", which for most EU countries i "70 p.m.a.". However, I thought that what makes the URAA different is that it extends copyright in the US until 95 p.m.a., i.e. the protection used in EU + 25. As I read the table in its current form, it should be interpreted to mean that a work is PD, also in the US, if the author did 70 years ago. Am I reading the table incorrectly? V85 (talk) 20:50, 2 May 2010 (UTC) misunderstood it. V85 (talk) 20:53, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Just for posterity, the "Term of protection" is the current term in that country, while [Term on URAA date] (if present) is the term as it was in that country on the URAA date, which is key to figuring out if the work got restored in the U.S. in the first place. Only works still copyrighted on the URAA date, by the law at that time, were eligible for restoration -- later law changes to increase or decrease terms have no effect on the U.S. status. Also, if restored, a work gets normal U.S. copyright terms -- for works published from 1923 through 1977, that is 95 years from publication, not 95 years pma. Carl Lindberg (talk) 14:59, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

Clarifying the four-point test[edit]

I'm struggling with an easy case. (The case: A image in an 1894 French journal; the journal's editor who is also the subject of the image died in 1934; the image is an engraving like those in the Wall St Journal, not a photo; I do not know the death data of the image-maker; the publication ceased in 1947 but its affiliated organization survives.) The four-point test seems to be a flowchart/program/form to process such cases, with outcomes "public domain in US" or "public domain everywhere" or "copyrighted in US" or "too hard a case." But I wasn't certain if the questions are to be applied serially or somehow in parallel/overlapping keeping all four answers in mind at once. Is the following "serial" characterization correct?

"If the answer to question 1 is NO (not a signatory to Berne or WTO), skip the other three questions and go to "non-restored copyrights" (and don't come back); if it's YES, fall through to question 2?" ... etc, sequentially through question 4 at which point one usually has an answer?

If correct please someone confirm. Looks like I can post it to en. but hard to tell about posting to commons. There are many useful images in this journal and I'd hoped to get them on commons. -- Econterms (talk) 02:21, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm the person "responsible" for writing the four-point test, so I'm sorry if it's not clear! It was written quite a while ago, like most of this page, to summarize the large quantity of pretty technical knowledge we'd built up as a project. It's meant to be applied serially: so, if you get an answer, that's the answer and you shouldn't have to worry about anything else. The specific case you raise is actually one of the hard ones, because it comes down to a policy decision on our part: I doubt we can prove that the image is PD worldwide, but everything strongly suggests that it is. Maybe the easiest way forward is for you to upload one image here (English Wikipedia) using the tag {{PD-US-1923-abroad}} (which is definitely a true tag, even if it might not be the "most open" tag) with the supporting information you have: that way, we have both the details and an image which can be used here, and we can discuss if another, more "open" tag is appropriate. Physchim62 (talk) 02:53, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
Great! Thanks, I'll post it on the English wp. And thanks for writing the test out. It must have been hard to work out that algorithm in the thicket of legal details. It was written clearly enough for many people I'm sure, and has made a big difference. But I was reading it very literally and cautiously in a state of uncertainty and didn't see the decision process framed/introduced. Here's a thought. Suppose the first lines of the four-point test text directed the reader like this:
Address these questions in order until you get to a conclusion in bold.
  1. Is the source country a WTO member or a Berne Convention signatory? (based on table)
That may seem bloated, but it's clear. It avoids the construction "see . . . " which I found ambiguous, not decisive. If you agree let me know and let's scoot something like that in. -- Econterms (talk) 05:12, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
In fact I'd think this was an easy one. Anything published before 1923 is public domain. Period, no test necessary. Magog the Ogre (talk) 07:21, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
Right, public domain in the U.S., but I'd hoped to post it to commons because it's appropriate for French and other wikipedias also. Maybe someday. For now, the image is here. There are other useful ones in this journal which has been beautifully scanned online.
I changed the instructions to the four-point test as I suggested above for clarity to those new to the issue. --Econterms (talk) 03:29, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
The author of the photo is one bit of important information, and an engraving would be a derivative work, so the author of the engraving would also be important. If you have access to the original journal, and can show there are no image or engraving credits, then you could perhaps use the Commons Anonymous-EU tag (as well as the PD-1923 tag for the U.S. side of things). European copyrights in general depend greatly on when the author dies, so if that information is not known, it does get a bit dicier. The tests here are geared to seeing if works were restored by the URAA, which can involve an intricate dance between U.S. and foreign copyright laws (and what those laws were in 1996), but that is thankfully all moot for works published before 1923 -- the URAA did not restore anything. French works these days last 70 years after the author dies, but if we know they were anonymous as of the original publication, that gives a much better basis for using the 70-years-from-publication term for anonymous works. Commons will generally not allow the use of that tag for images pulled off the internet, where the author's identity has simply been lost as opposed to having actually been anonymous right from the start. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:45, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for this! It may help. This particular image has a name, Dietrich. I don't know Dietrich's lifespan but will watch for it elsewhere in the publication. Other cases may be anonymous. -- Econterms (talk) 17:06, 5 December 2010 (UTC)


Do you all think it might be worth adding the template corresponding to the individual countries to the tble? E.g., {{PD-Ireland}}, or, should one not exist, the commons equivalent? We could create a new column, or add it under the name of the country. Magog the Ogre (talk) 03:51, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm. Maybe, though there are some issues, and I'm not sure it's worth it. PD-Ireland for example is not really any different than PD-old-70; not sure it is recommended to use that at all (on Commons, such synonyms are usually deprecated I think). Also, the tags typically show *current* licensing rules, not necessarily what they were in 1996, which is key to determining U.S. status (which I think is the only thing en-wiki goes by, unlike Commons). For example, I'm pretty sure Ireland was 50 pma in 1996; they went to 70 pma in 2000 I think but that doesn't change the U.S. status at all. If all the tags had that kind of info, spelling out what the U.S. cutoff line is, maybe that would be better. Carl Lindberg (talk) 05:51, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
So for Ireland the "Term of protection" in the table should be changed to "50 pma" as it was at the URAA date. Any comments? Ankry (talk) 09:09, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
The 50pma should be added in square brackets after the 70pma; countries with different terms at the time are done that way. It would help to have a link to the older law defining the terms as well (also in square brackets in the link section). Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:12, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

Can Al Qaeda copyright works?[edit]

This is a rather unusual and possibly macabre question, but does Al Qaeda retain the ability to copyright its works? I ask because I'm working on an article that involves the murder of Nicholas Berg, the famous individual wearing the orange jumpsuit surrounded by the armed terrorists. Obviously I don't plan on using a screenshot of the actual killing, but the image is iconic enough. It was created in Iraq by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi (killed in 2006), which apparently has no copyright treaties with the US, but because of the occupation has its own strange laws, as noted in: File:Iraq, Saddam Hussein (222).jpg. If I can't make a case for PD, I'm going to use historical relevancy, but either way I'd like to know what kind of legal ground this is. Please send responses to my talk page. Palm_Dogg (talk) 08:17, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Restored copyrights and copyright protection in the source country[edit]

The "Copyright protection in the source country" section states that If the work is in the public domain in the source country "through expiration of term of protection" the U.S. copyright is not restored. Does this actually mean that if the work was in the public domain in the source country on January 1, 1996, the copyright is not restored? And, hence, if the work entered the public domain in the source country after 1 Jan 1996, the copyright was restored?

Example: Consider an Indonesian banknote published in Indonesia in 1960, which under Indonesian law entered the public domain in 2010. (Actually, odds are the note was PD from day 1 anyway as a work of the government, but that's another kettle of fish.) Indonesia being a WTO member and the work not being PD on Jan 1, 1996, the four-point test says it remains copyrighted in the US, even though it is PD in Indonesia. Am I reading this right, and if yes, should the wording be changed? Jpatokal (talk) 21:19, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it mainly matters what the law was on January 1, 1996 (or whatever the URAA date is for the country in question). Changes in the source country (becoming PD or new laws) after that date have no further effect on their U.S. status. That section is mostly about a different subject; it is emphasizing that only works where the copyright *expired* in the source country follow that rule; works which are *ineligible* in the source country but eligible in the U.S. get restored. But, I can see your point, although it should say the "URAA date" and not January 1, 1996 in particular. I'll edit it. In your example, a 1960 banknote does look like it did not expire until 2011, though the categories in the old law don't make that 100% clear -- a photograph published in 1960 became PD in 1986 for example even though the term was extended by later laws. As for the government aspect, it looks as though you're right -- they do say that works published by the government are PD unless there is a specific mention of copyright. That sounds very similar to {{PD-NetherlandsGov}}, which is not surprising, as I'm sure Indonesia inherited a lot of its copyright law from the Dutch East Indies. There should probably be a counterpart tag for Indonesia. Carl Lindberg (talk) 01:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)


I reverted the Greece change... it really looks to me as though the 1993 law, seen here, non-retroactively extended terms from 50 pma to 70 pma. That would mean that in 1996, works from authors who died in 1943 and later were still copyrighted. Article 44 is interesting, but that looks as though that was the term just for computer programs, and not the general term -- that was abolished in 1997 as you note (that law is here), but that does not seem to have affected anything except computer programs specifically. Or do legal scholars think the awkward wording of that section meant that it affected all works? It does look as though that was left in there by accident. Carl Lindberg (talk) 21:41, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Sorry I made a mistake, I have restored your version. SV1XV (talk) 05:18, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Artworks published outside the U.S. 1909-1922[edit]

According to the Artist Rights Society, the Library of Congress and the Art Institute of Chicago, an artwork must have been published IN the United States before 1923 in order to be in the U.S. public domain. So, to determine if a foreign, pre-1923 artwork is actually in the U.S. public domain, you have to find the date it was first cataloged/published in the United States. (Of course this is not necessary if it has been more than 70 years since the artist died, or if the artwork was published in any country before 1909.) So it's just 1909-1922 foreign works that this concerns.

Art Institute of Chicago Copyright Overview

Library of Congress-Copyright of Foreign Works Scroll way down to heading "How Long Copyright Lasts" and subheading "Foreign Works"

This conflicts with wikipedia public domain tags which claim that artwork is in the public domain because it was "published before 1923"

Shouldn't that read "because it was published in the United States before 1923?"

I see that there are no longer any templates for the pre-1909 or pre-1923 works published outside of the U.S. on the Public Domain Help Page. So I suppose users are just using the same template regardless of where the image was published.

The PD help page claims that foreign works produced 1909-1922 are in the public domain if they are "in compliance with US formalities" What does that mean??

I'm afraid the tags confuse many wikipedia users as to their legal rights concerning these images. And the help page does nothing to clear up the issue.

Is there something I don't know, or should I be deleting these PD tags and retagging them under fair use as I come across them? There's obviously no problem with having them on wikipedia, I just worry that users will try to use them in publications and end up in court. It is possible that these images are in the public domain, but without citing its first publication in the U.S., there's no way to verify it.

I've mainly seen this affect Modern Art works from early in the 20th century- i.e. works of Kandinsky, Picasso, etc.

For instance, the following Picasso image, though created in 1910, was not published in the U.S. until 1934 according to the Art Institute of Chicago. So accordingly, it shouldn't be in the public domain.

Art Institute of Chicago- Information about the Painting (click on exhibition, publication and ownership history to see the dates)

So am I right, or can you set me straight?

--Rubiru (talk) 20:49, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Well... it's a little complicated. If it was published anywhere before 1923, then it is public domain in the United States -- that's the law. The partial confusion comes over an oddball court case, Twin Books vs Disney, which decided that a German-language book published in Germany was technically "unpublished" in the United States, and retained its U.S. copyright that way. The ruling was specifically about a foreign-language book, and there is no guarantee that it applies to non-language-specific items or works in English published abroad. Additionally, it only applies in one judicial circuit. For the most part, I think Wikipedia and Commons ignores that one ruling, which is the only way (I think) that the museum could make that claim (and that is stretching even that ruling, which was stretching to begin with). Unless, possibly, they are claiming the painting was not published anywhere until 1934. See the Hirtle chart, and note the first "special case" under foreign works where it goes over the details on the case. There was a little previous discussion on it at Wikipedia talk:Public domain/Archive 2009#Non-US_unpublished_works and Wikipedia talk:Copyrights/Archive 13#PD_dates. U.S. law makes no distinction on where something was published; that is primarily an invention of that one court decision as far as I'm aware. In general, I don't think we follow that decision, but if you are re-using such works yourself, you may want to take that into consideration (particularly if you are under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit). Carl Lindberg (talk) 21:54, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

I still feel very unsure about the status. The Library of Congress which issues copyrights says the following:

"Works published outside the U.S. with a U.S. Copyright notice before 1923 are considered to be in the public domain." See my initial LOC link above.

But many foreign artists did not put a U.S. copyright notice on their works, nor did the galleries who first published them. Why would they? So, when they did put a U.S. copyright notice on the work upon its arrival in the U.S. and publication in a catalog, then that's when their U.S. copyright begins. Prior to issuing/noting a U.S. copyright, the work had no protection in the United States.

I read the opinion in Twin Books Vs. Disney, and their reasoning was simply that U.S. copyright begins when it is first registered or noted, not when a work is created or published in a foreign country. That is why the Art Institute of Chicago says that the Picasso Estate still has U.S. rights to his work which was first published in the U.S. post 1923.

The Twin Books court decision was based solely on when its U.S. copyright began, and had nothing to do with the language of the work or the fact that it was a text. Neither fact was mentioned in the court's opinion.

The law as described by the Library of Congress seems to agree that it is the date of U.S. copyright which decides the rights of the work. As the initial U.S. publication and copyright was after 1923, the work is not in the public domain. I'm not sure why the Cornell site disagrees, they cite the LOC many times, but none of their links verified this assertion.

Any copyright lawyers who can explain why I'm wrong? Or is this all a matter of legal opinion until the supreme court to takes this one on? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rubiru (talkcontribs) 01:52, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

U.S. law simply says publication, and nothing about where the publication occurs, to start the copyright clock. From s:Copyright Act of 1909: That the copyright secured by this Act shall endure for twenty-eight years from the date of first publication, whether the copyrighted work bears the author's true name or is published anonymously or under an assumed name. The term "publication" was not defined in the act, leading to different possible interpretations, but the law mentions nothing about being published in the United States only; that case is unique in that it considered something clearly published in Germany as "unpublished" in the United States (which is the only way it could be "unprotected" by the federal U.S. copyright, as claimed by Twin Books, if it didn't irretrievably became public domain). The Library of Congress site is being circumspect, in that the court's ruling in that case has not been overturned, so is still binding law in at least some part of the country. The court ruling noted that the book was first published without a notice of copyright in a foreign language in a foreign country, implying that if those specific conditions did not apply, then neither did the "unpublished" U.S. determination -- several courts had explicitly ruled that a copyright notice in foreign publication would start the U.S. copyright clock, so the court did not try to rule otherwise, so basically ruled that the exact same act with a copyright notice was publication, but without was not publication. They seemed to be trying to find a way to preserve the foreign copyright (the U.S. rules were pretty unfair to foreign authors) but ends up with a messy possibility that foreign works could be protected longer than U.S. works, which is clearly not the intent of Congress (they give foreign works the exact same treatment that U.S. works get). William Patry had a blog entry on the case here, criticizing it strongly. That article also says the U.S. Copyright Office does not seem to make the distinction either. Basically, I'm not sure there is anything making the distinction outside of that court case and maybe one other. As noted even in that court case, several other courts ruled that publication without notice in a foreign country meant the work was PD in the United States; those are also still binding law in other parts of the country (and were more contemporaneous with the 1909 act). This situation was generally rectified by the URAA restorations instead (restoring foreign copyrights to people who tripped over the old requirements), and actually the definition used in Twin Books would mean very little could actually be restored (since the URAA does not restore items first published in the United States, and per Twin Books nothing is "published" until it is published in the U.S. or at least with notice, meaning first "publication" (by their definition) is almost always going to be in the U.S.). Yes, it is mostly a matter of opinion unless the Supreme Court takes it on, but as far as I'm aware, most regard Twin Books as a bad ruling, and I think we instead use the URAA (explicitly in law) as the preferred way to handle foreign-publisehd copyrights, which implies a 1923 date. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:50, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

That makes sense. I guess as there are plenty of places claiming that these works are copyrighted, it makes me uncomfortable to not warn wikipedia users. I know everyone is supposed to do their own research, but it would be very easy to use one of these images in a small publication and then be contacted by lawyers of the Picasso estate, which still claims U.S. copyright. What a nightmare. There are plenty of artworks that are clearly in the PD, why get involved with grey areas?

From my understanding, I don't think that the Twin Books vs. Disney decision says that "nothing is published until it is published in the U.S." NOW. They only ruled that way because the time frame that the court was dealing with was events in 1923, 1926 and 1954. As the U.S. was not a party to the Berne Convention until 1988, the U.S. did not share common copyright with other countries prior to that. Prior to 1988, the U.S. still required for people to register/note their U.S. copyrights. The main reason we didn't want to sign Berne for over 100 years was because we didn't want to get rid of that requirement to register or note copyright. Now, as soon as something is copyrighted anywhere in our treaty partner countries, it gains U.S. copyrights. But prior to Berne, that was not the case. The URAA did retroactively grant copyright status to works that were never copyrighted in the U.S. or who had failed to renew their copyrights. These artistic works do not fall into either category. URAA did not change the status of works which had already been granted U.S. copyright status under the previous legal code and had maintained that status correctly. My understanding was that the court in Twin Books vs. Disney had agreed that Bambi had indeed been in the U.S. PD 1923-1926 when it had been published in Germany and had not declared a U.S. copyright. Fortunately for them, no one in the U.S. took advantage of it during that period. When they declared a U.S. copyright in 1926, and registered it in 1927, their copyright protection began. And Disney worked with them and paid them according to that copyright for over 50 years before they started to deny it existed. That subsequently, post-URAA, the U.S. would've granted them protection beginning at their original German publication date in 1923 does not change the 1926 rights they had already secured. To change the date of their original U.S. copyright, and retroactively punish them for following earlier U.S. law, doesn't seem very just. I think these works essentially get grandfathered in to keeping their original U.S. copyright date which was legally gained and maintained.

Regardless of who is right, and I admit, there's a very good chance that I'm not, the main point is that this is an uncertain legal area. There are artistic estates that still claim copyright on these works, and people do risk legal action using them. The public domain tags don't convey that, and nowhere is it noted that it is imperative that wikipedia users do further research before using them for any commercial purpose. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rubiru (talkcontribs) 21:31, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:General disclaimer, linked at the bottom of every page, does make the note that people need to do their own research. If you want to add a note to the permission field that someone else claims copyright still exists on that particular image as a warning, go ahead -- nothing wrong with that. Many sites do claim copyright when it really doesn't exist, as there is no real penalty for being wrong. Many assume the "sweat of the brow" doctrine still exists, and things like that -- we can't cover all possibilities. We will tend to try to protect the public domain with as much force as we respect copyright though, so if there seem to be solid grounds for public domain status, we'd still keep an image if we deemed a copyright claim incorrect. The definition of "publication" is a lot more nebulous when it comes to a painting (books were pretty straightforward), so there may be some uncertainty in that area.
Basically though, it has always been assumed that publication abroad meant the work was also deemed publication by the United States, so the 28-year clock started at that point. The Bambi book was first published in 1923 in Germany, so that should have been the date on the copyright notice, and the renewal should have happened in 1950 or 1951. The only way the 28-year period could start in 1926 is if the book was deemed "unpublished" in the United States, as if that was true, then it would get infinite common-law protection but would not get the protection of the federal law. Once deemed published however, the common law copyright was extinguished and federal copyright was preserved only by notice, and registration for protection beyond 28 years from the publication date. So, Twin Books had to deem the work "unpublished" in the United States until 1926, at odds with many other rulings, the apparent wording of copyright law, and standard practice. The U.S. was a member of the Universal Copyright Convention along with many other countries, which allowed for notice and registration requirements but otherwise still protected foreign works (though the Bambi stuff predated that) -- international relations were not new with Berne. Twin Books may possibly have had grounds on the notice issue alone (i.e. those may have been only required on copies distributed in the U.S.), but starting the copyright term at a later date is not supported I don't think (the law specifically starts the term from first publication). The Heim case they rely on does support their notice decision (that copyright was not necessarily lost without notice on foreign-distributed works), but does not support the starting term of copyright (Heim explicitly mentioned that a work first published in Hungary in 1935 had a "mistake of date" since the notice had a date of 1936, which was instead when the U.S. copyright was registered -- per their ruling that did not cause U.S. copyright to be forfeited but 1935 was still the publication date). Twin Books may have had better grounds relying on this proclamation for the untimely renewal, though the continued incorrect date on the notice may also have been a problem. Outside of Twin Books, I don't know of any decision which actually deemed the U.S. copyright clock did not start with first foreign publication, which is the crucial part in regards to 1923 -- I can't find any support for that part of their decision. Twin Books' copyright was restored by the URAA in either case, so mostly moot now, though it will get interesting again in 2019 which is when the copyright should expire per Heim and the URAA and everything else, but 2022 would be the date in the Ninth Circuit. Carl Lindberg (talk) 20:41, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Guino v. Renoir- Newer Ninth circuit case upholding Twin Books The Library Law website that posted the article on it seems just as hopeful as you are that the Twin Books decision will soon be overturned when it reaches the full Appeals Court. It will be great when this is clarified. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rubiru (talkcontribs) 02:35, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the 9th Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing en banc on April 1, 2009: [1]. So this case is closed, and won't overturn Twin Books. Lupo 07:52, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Government and anonymous works PD in source country[edit]

Can anyone clarify what happens to a government work that is now PD in source country, but was not on January 1, 1996. For example, currency banknotes in India — they are PD in India if issued before 1962, but were not PD in India in 1996. Now pma is not applicable for a government. What will be the status of the images? Sumanch (talk) 03:44, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

This may depend on the country. The United Kingdom has declared that its crown copyrights expire 50 years after publication in all countries.[2] The United States has claimed that its government works are in the public domain in the United States, but that they may be copyrighted in other countries.[3] So to answer your question, I think the answer is that it depends on the country. I'm not sure what the status of other countries is. Also note that some governments (such as the US one) do not copyright their works at all in the source countries. However, since 1 March 1989, there are no longer any copyright formalities in the United States, so any such works by non-US governments may be copyrighted in the US if they were first published after 1 March 1989 (or after the day when the country established copyright relations with the United States if later). I asked the same question a few weeks ago and the answer was that no one knows anything: Commons:Commons:Village pump/Copyright/Archive/2012/01#PD-Gov templates. --Stefan2 (talk) 22:54, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


FYI: I have updated Vanuatu's URAA date from "none" to 2 March 2012. Details at Commons:COM:VPC#Vanuatu. --Stefan2 (talk) 23:10, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

I reverted since I can't find any mention of them joining the WCT (the link was for the WIPO Convention, which is different). However, I'm sure it is a matter of time. I did add a link to their new copyright law, which is now in effect there. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:30, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
I never went back and looked, but Vanuatu indeed joined the WTO in August 2012, and Berne in December 2012. The earlier of those is the URAA date. I updated the page. Carl Lindberg (talk) 19:22, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

Footnoting system[edit]

Is there some reason this page doesn't use grouping of footnotes? I've tried to add a new footnote and I can't seem to get the ref/note thing to behave (so I've left it with ref tag, which doesn't work either). Anyone? Rd232 talk 22:30, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

It was originally done using an old footnoting system. It should be updated, but it's a lot of work. Carl Lindberg (talk) 18:10, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
OK. I started doing a bit of the conversion (without saving), and then thought I'd better ask, in view of how much work it looked like being... Rd232 talk 19:52, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

Unclear about anonymous works[edit]

This need to be more clear on how anonymous works are treated. Also, what is the procedure when the exact date of publication is not known, and the work falls in a range that covers both potential PD and non-PD eras (ex. if it was a US work, the publication range would be "somewhere in the 1920s")? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 15:53, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

When there is not enough information to determine copyright status (or at least to be reasonably sure a work is PD), we are conservative and delete or do not upload the work. Dcoetzee 10:43, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I think this is inappropriate because for numerous WWII photos taken in the USSR this can't be determined. The communist ethos dictated that works of that kind were very rarely credited to individual photographers. They should be treated as anonymous works, for which the Russian copyright clock starts at creation date. See commons:Commons:Anonymous works. Someone not using his real name (talk) 07:31, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
According to Anonymous work (which cites US copyright law: "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author") if a work is legally published without any natural person being identified on the copies, then it is anonymous for copyright purposes. Someone not using his real name (talk) 02:13, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

First publication[edit]

Does any potential exist for providing plausible advice on how contributors should approach obscure century-old content? (e.g., a French photograph published in the United States before 1923 but for which no other information about its publication history is known.)   — C M B J   05:15, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Generally we assume works were first published in the place where the artist was living and exhibiting at the time. Complex cases like the one you mention I think would require a discussion, e.g. at commons:Commons:Upload help. Dcoetzee 10:45, 7 January 2013 (UTC)


I'm a bit confused about the state of the law in Algeria Argentina on the URAA date. Based on the footnote, I'm guessing that it had a simple 50 pma policy in 1996, and its disparate limits on anonymous institutional works, films, etc. came with the 1997 law. Hence for URAA consideration purposes, an Argentinan work is copyrighted in the US only if it is copyrighted in Argentina or published 1946 or later. Is this correct? Thanks! Dcoetzee 05:36, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't know enough about the Argentine (correcting Algeria) law to comment on that. Someone would have to actually dig into the 1933 law to know. My observation of international copyright is that almost without exception, the trend has been to continuously make the protections more stringent than before, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the exceptions already in the 1933 law, perhaps under a different form (e.g., all copyright law used to follow what only the exceptions now follow). Magog the Ogre (t c) 18:25, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
The terms were made longer in 1997, and it does seem like they were retroactive, per here. Yes... this appears to be the text of the law after a 1993 amendment, and the next amendment after that was the 1997 extension of rights. Those terms were 50pma, and 50 pd for corporate works. So yes, death prior to 1946 (or for corporate works publication before 1946) would seem to make them ineligible for the URAA. Carl Lindberg (talk) 04:11, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Australia photos info out of date[edit]

According to [4] (linked from commons:Template:PD-Australia):

"For photographs in which copyrights still subsisted on 1 January 2005, or which are created on or after that date, copyright lasts until 70 years from the end of the year in which the photographer died."

The table currently makes it appear as though all photos are 50 pd. I realise this is somewhat unimportant, since any photo still in copyright in 2005 was restored by the URAA until at least 2050, and any photo created afterwards will remain in copyright until at least 2075, but just noting it. Dcoetzee 07:26, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

YesY Done I've corrected it. Magog the Ogre (t c) 18:20, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
It now said that Australian photos taken before 1955 are in the public domain if they were published at least 50 years ago (so that a photo taken in 1954 and published in 1956 would enter the public domain in 2007). The correct rule is, as far as I can tell, that Australian photos taken before 1955 entered the public domain 50 years after they were taken, not 50 years after they were published, so I've changed this. --Stefan2 (talk) 19:25, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

Côte d'Ivoire[edit]

commons:Template:Côte d'Ivoire states:

"The work [is in the public domain if it] meets one of the following criteria:
  • It is an anonymous work, pseudonymous or posthumous work and 99 years have passed since the date of its publication
  • It is a photographic, audiovisual works or a works of applied art and 99 and years have passed since the date of its publication
  • It is another kind of work, and 99 years have passed since the year of death of the author (or last-surviving author)"

This table only mentions 99 pma. The template links to Law No. 96-564 of July 25, 1996 which seems to back it up very clearly in Section 45. The corresponding info page does not mention any superseded or superseding legislation - I suspect this section was substantially the same before the URAA date. So I've updated the table accordingly. Dcoetzee 11:02, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Best I can tell is that the national legislation prior to that 1996 law was the Bangui Agreement of the OAPI, which defines the actual legislation in many areas of intellectual property for a number of African nations, unless overridden by national laws in order to make the rights stronger -- which is apparently rare and only done for copyright. Those terms were 50pma (and 25pr for photos) at the time, though was strengthened to 70pma in 1999 or so. Texts are here, both the 1977 original and 1999 revisions. I have no idea if the Côte d'Ivoire 1996 law was retroactive. The Bangui Agreement was not, and there is nothing in there which seems to say what happens with existing users of re-copyright works (stuff you normally see in retroactive legislation). But it seems very probable that 50pma are the URAA terms for them at least. Their newer law really doesn't have a "public domain" either even though that's what they call it; the government simply claims rights to payments for use of public domain works at 50% of the typical private domain rates. It sounds like copyright enforcement barely exists there though and piracy is pretty rampant. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:46, 19 January 2013 (UTC)


According to List of countries' copyright length, Mexico's original term was 50 pma, and when it was extended to 75 pma in 1994, only works still in copyright on the date it came into force, 1 January 1994, were extended. Decreto que reforma, adiciona y deroga disposiciones de diversas leyes relacionadas con el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, transitional provision 4 states:

"La ampliación del plazo de protección de los derechos de propiedad intelectual a que se refiere la fracción 1 del Artículo 23 de la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor que se reforma, será aplicable a aquellos derechos que no hayan ingresado al régimen de dominio público a la fecha en que el presente Decreto entre en vigor. [The extension of the term of protection of intellectual property rights referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Federal Copyright Law will be applicable to any rights which have not entered the public domain on the date on which this Act comes into force.]"

Paragraph 1 of Article 23 is amended in that same document (in Article 9) to read:

"Durará tanto como la vida del autor y setenta y cinco años después de su muerte. [Lasts as long as the author's life and seventy-five years after his death.]"

Transitional provision 1 reads:

"El presente Decreto entrará en vigor el 1 o de enero de 1994. [This Decree shall enter into force on 1 January 1994.]"

An excellent English-language summary of Mexican copyright law is found in The Economic Contribution of Copyright-Based Industries in Mexico, Chapter III. It states:

"Further amendments and additions were made in December 1993, giving a longer term of protection of up to 75 years after the creator’s demise and abandoning the regime of public domain, allowing for the free use and communication of works that, because of the time elapsed, were no longer under copyright protection. [...] on December 29, 1996, the new Copyright Act was issued and became effective as of March 24, 1997 [...] This Act foresaw an extension of the validity of economic rights from 50 to 75 years effective from the author’s death or the death of the last co-author."

(I am somewhat confused by the above document's claim that both the 1994 law and the 1997 law extended terms from 50 to 75 pma). If I'm reading all these correctly, it would appear that all Mexican works whose author died before 1944 are in the public domain in Mexico and the US.

I'm confused by accounts that claim that some works in Mexico are 75 pma (including this page). It seems to me based on the above that any work that was still in copyright in 1994 (under 50 pma) had its copyright extended by at least 25 years, and hence was also still in copyright in 2003 when terms were extended to 100 pma. Therefore it would seem all Mexican copyrights are either ongoing and will expire 100 pma, or expired before 1994. Am I missing something here? Thanks for any help. Dcoetzee 13:14, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

The Mexican copyright law has been changed multiple times. At Commons:COM:CRT#Mexico, it says that there was an even earlier law which set the term to 30 years p.m.a., meaning that works by authors who died before 1952 were in the public domain in Mexico on the URAA date and that the works still are in the public domain there. However, I have also seen claims that there was an earlier Mexican law which required copyright formalities (exact details unknown) and that some works by authors who died in 1952 or later also are in the public domain in Mexico due to failure to comply with the copyright formalities. People have claimed that no change in the copyright law has been retroactive (so that all works which were in the public domain at some point still are in the public domain), but I don't know if the claim is correct or how to verify this. Mexican copyrights seem to be messy. --Stefan2 (talk) 13:26, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
According to The Economic Contribution of Copyright-Based Industries in Mexico, Chapter III, it was the Copyright Act of 1947 that introduced copyright upon creation without registration, although they're not very clear under what circumstances registration was required for protection before that time. It also enacted a term of 20 pma (in which case, when was it extended to 30 pma?) The document also confirms that the 1982 law "widen[ed] protection terms for creators, performers and musicians" but doesn't go into specifics. It claims that "On December 20, 1955, Mexico adhered to the [Berne] Convention" but the Berne Convention requires 50 pma which it appears Mexico had not yet enacted.
The above cited text seems to substantiate that the 1994 law was not retroactive. The statements on Commons are believable to me (the nonretroactivity of the extensions to 75 pma and 100 pma would be quite irrelevant if no new works fell into the public domain between one extension and the next, so it makes sense they'd focus on the first extension from 30 to 50 pma), but I don't see a clear source yet for Mexico being 30 pma before 1982. If I could find one it'd be handy for updating the Wikipedia article too. Frankly, considering how much stuff we're dealing with here, I think a whole article ought to be written on Copyright law of Mexico to go in Category:Copyright law by country. Dcoetzee 14:28, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
At List of parties to international copyright agreements, it says that Mexico implemented the Berne Convention in 1967 (not 1955 as stated above). However, Japan implemented the Berne Convention in 1899 and didn't get 50 years p.m.a. until 1971 (previously it was 30 years p.m.a., 33 years p.m.a., 35 years p.m.a., 37 years p.m.a. and 38 years p.m.a., according to ja:著作権の保護期間#終期の原則). There are some historical versions of the Berne Convention at s:Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, but all seem to state 50 years p.m.a. It seems that Berne Convention members might have been able to get away with less than 50 year p.m.a. in the past, but the details are unclear.
If a work was created before the Berne Convention was implemented, then countries are permitted to use a different term for those works. Thus, countries can keep a shorter term on old works. For example, the United States uses this provision to keep 95 years pd for old works, although this is sometimes shorter than 50 years p.m.a. Maybe Mexico did something similar? It would be possible to keep 30 years p.m.a. for up to 30 years after signing the Berne Convention without affecting the copyright status of new works. It's bad that it's so hard to find information. --Stefan2 (talk) 15:21, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
That would explain it if they had some time before they had to act. I'm currently working on a draft article at User:Dcoetzee/Copyright law of Mexico. I got my hands on the original 1928 Civil Code, which appears to offer a mere 20 year term (with 30 years for some works), so there's your starting point. Going to try to gather up the necessary documents from there to trace the full history of the copyright term. It's a bit slow-going since I don't actually speak Spanish. :-) Dcoetzee 17:23, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, countries have been able to get away with less than 50pma in the past. That may have only been mandated in the 1970s. Though Mexico apparently ratified the Paris Act version effective December 1974. The 1994 change was definitely not retroactive; the fourth article in the transitional section explicitly states that.[5] The change to 50pma effective Jan 11 1982[6] is not as clear, but signs point to being non-retroactive as well, as that was the typical case. Mexico had proposals to go to 50pma through the 70s but apparently did not actually enact it until then. Details on the registration requirements and the dates involved can be found in this U.S. court case, which ruled a couple of movies PD because they were not registered in Mexico appropriately and thus were PD on the URAA date (something which would be impossible if the 1982 law was retroactive). Their law was 20pma by a 1947 law apparently, and went to 30pma in 1962. There are minutes of debates here and here which indicate that (though those are not official law texts). Carl Lindberg (talk) 13:58, 16 January 2013 (UTC)


Same problem as with Argentina above - the table states that works there are 60 pma, with an exception of 60 pd for photos and cinema, and that it was 50 pma on the URAA date. It's not clear what the term of photos and cinema was on the URAA date. There's no citation to consult for the 50 pma on URAA date, not quite sure where to find this info. Dcoetzee 16:53, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Bangladesh split off from Pakistan, so it's not unreasonable to assume the previous terms were similar to those (at the time). Those in turn came from UK copyright norms. But here is a link to the 1978 Bangladesh law, which does have 50pma. And yes, there were shorter terms for photos and some other types of work. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:31, 19 January 2013 (UTC)


This table is inconsistent with commons:Template:PD-Croatia, which claims Croatia had 50 pma from 1991 until 1999. Should it read "70 pma [50 pma]"? Dcoetzee 22:11, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Yes. Here is a link to their law as of 1993 which was 50pma. I think there are lots of countries here not investigated yet for pre-1996 terms. Carl Lindberg (talk) 03:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Please, also see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Croatia#Copyright rules on photos in Yugoslavia. --Eleassar my talk 16:56, 1 March 2013 (UTC)


This table states that Indian photos entered the public domain 50 years after publication if they were published before 1941 and 60 years after publication if they were first published after that. However, Commons:Template:PD-India tells that photos taken before 1958 entered the public domain 50 years after they were taken, which means that any pre-1946 photos published before 1 March 1989 might be in the public domain in the United States. Unpublished photos still need to comply with {{PD-US-unpublished}}, of course. Either this page or the Commons template must be wrong. Does anyone know what the correct copyright term is? --Stefan2 (talk) 22:29, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

Hmmm. The copyright law which went into effect in 1958 did change the term of photographs from 50 years from creation to 50 years from publication (following in the footsteps of the UK 1956 Copyright Act which did the same). It did say that works already in the public domain did not get restored, so photos taken 1907 or earlier should definitely be OK (as they were PD on Jan 1 1958). The 1956 UK act contained an explicit condition which said that photos taken before it went into effect continued to have their term based on creation instead of publication -- only mid-1957 or later photos got the term based on publication. However, I don't think the Indian law the next year had a similar clause, or at least I haven't found it. So, I'm not sure. If works still under copyright at the time got the new terms (the usual case with non-retroactive laws) then it's only 1907 and earlier photos which are OK. The tag seems to imply that the UK situation also applied in India... that change was made by User:Yann relatively recently (October 2012) and I'd be interested in the evidence for that. Carl Lindberg (talk) 05:39, 12 February 2013 (UTC)


Hi, can someone please update the table (it's too complicated for me) to show that works were protected in Slovenia for 50 years pma before 1995; photographs were protected for 25 years since the publication. This makes the works of authors who died before 1 January 1945 and the photographs (and works of applied art) published before 1 January 1970 free in the source country. See commons:Commons:Copyright rules by territory#Slovenia. Thanks. --Eleassar my talk 16:59, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Simultaneous publication[edit]

دالبا (talk · contribs) made an interesting change. The word "simultaneously" was changed into "on the same day" citing s:Uruguay Round Agreements Act/Title V. However, more commonly, "simultanously" means "within 30 days", as explained in the Berne Convention. What is correct here? s:Uruguay Round Agreements Act/Title V does mention publication on the same day. Does it mean that Commons:Template:PD-URAA-Simul is wrong? --Stefan2 (talk) 22:45, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

"Same day" is correct.
The idea of the 30-day "simultaneous" publication comes from Berne Article 3(4) and is incorporated into § 104(b)(6) of the U.S. Copyright Act. That is still good law for purposes of determining national eligibility for copyright in the first instance. It's okay for there to be more than one country of origin for this purpose, because there are multiple bases to determine eligibility (nationality of author; country of first publication, etc.). It does not really matter if there is more than one path to eligibility; if it's published "simultaneously" in two countries, it really does not matter which is first for § 104 purposes. (The 30-day "simultaneous" bit is also in the URAA, codified at § 104A(h)(6)(D); but that provision is also about eligibility.)
But the URAA "same day" provision (codified at § 104A(h)(8)(C)(ii)) is not about eligibility; it is about determining "source country" for purposes of restoration. There really can be only one "source country," because that's used to determine what country's laws are used to decide who the restored copyright vests in; see § 104A(b). If you used the 30-day simultaneous publication rule here, you would have two (or more) "source countries," and the whole point of determining what law to apply would be lost. For restored copyrights, then, they really need to use the country of actual (not 30-day "simultaneous") first publication, to pick whose law applied. And if there is a genuine ("same day") tie, they break the tie with "most significant contacts."
Note, in the discussion above, §§ 104 and 104A are two different sections. Section 104 is the one about national eligibility, that has been around in one form or another since the Copyright Act of 1976 was enacted; and § 104A is a newer one inserted between §§ 104 and 105 -- i.e., § 104(a) and § 104A refer to two different things (always a hassle during lectures).
But Commons:Template:PD-URAA-Simul is still correct, because that comes from the 30-day period of § 104A(h)(6)(D); not the "same day" source country determination in § 104A(h)(8)(C)(ii). TJRC (talk) 23:51, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Australian copyrights[edit]

Someone correct me if Im wrong, but a work that was never published within the United States, and the Author is unknown the copyright term is 120 years (ie. must have been taken before 1893). A work that was never published within the United States and it is known that the Author is dead, the copyright term is 70 years after death from (ie. must have died before 1943).

There is likely ALOT of Australian historical photographs here uploaded based on the information available on wikipedia (which is correct for works published in the US), generally either considering pre-1923 to be OK, or pre-1946 (due to another copyright oddity), or sometimes just pre-1955 (any AU photograph pre-1955 is PD in Australia). Many of the AU images come from government/historical archives and were likely never published even here (at least not easily provable), let alone in the US, so while well into PD here, they are not in the US, and some perhaps not for decades...

Someone please tell me I'm understanding this wrong and we don't have to delete half the AU images on wikipedia. -- Nbound (talk) 10:36, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

The 1893 rule and the 70 years p.m.a. rule are for things which haven't been published anywhere (publication didn't have to be in the United States). If they were published without copyright formalities in Australia before 1 March 1989 and the copyright had expired in Australia by 1 January 1996, then the copyright has expired in the United States too. If they were published before 1923, then they are fine regardless of what Australian law says. The problem with historic photos is indeed that there usually is no information about the publication history, something which is essential for determining the copyright in the United States. --Stefan2 (talk) 08:28, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Even by your somewhat relaxed terms, you could consider many AU images here as violations (hundreds if not thousands of them). Most of them are pulled from archives as I mentioned earlier and are not provably published (other than recently on the archive websites). -- Nbound (talk) 10:02, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
This is indeed murky. I've added the standard blurb about "subsisting US copyrights" to {{PD-Australia}} because the country is listed in the relevant section here. Someone not using his real name (talk) 07:22, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
"Subsisting US copyrights" are a problem with unpublished works for any country. The list at WP:Non-U.S. copyrights means that works published before the URAA date may be copyrighted in USA even if they were not protected in Australia on the URAA date, due to a bilateral treaty. Due to the bilateral treaty, Australian publishers had the option to affix a copyright notice to their published works and to submit a copyright renewal to the US Copyright Office. If they did, then the work is still protected by copyright in the United States under a full 95-year term even if it was out of copyright in Australia on the URAA date. It was probably very uncommon for Australian copyright holders to submit a copyright renewal to the US authorities.
For many other countries, the issue with subsisting copyrights is less important. The Soviet Union ratified the Universal Copyright Convention in 1973. For that reason, any Russian work published post-ratification with a copyright notice is copyrighted in USA regardless of the copyright status in Russia in 1996. As the shortest possible Russian copyright term is 50 years since creation, this should only be interesting for works which remained unpublished for a very long time after their creation. --Stefan2 (talk) 20:54, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Section on Russia[edit]

I agree with its removal [7]. The mainspace article Copyright law of the Russian Federation is of somewhat better quality than what was here, although the section on the current legislation is less developed than the one on the 1993 one. Someone not using his real name (talk) 12:57, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

WIPO source to correct dead links[edit]

Yesterday I went through Rule of the shorter term and fixed all the dead links ([8], [9]), a dozen or so, mostly using Wipo Lex to find the legislation with the dead links. I've started doing the same here ([10]), but am happy to share the workload if anyone else would like to dive in. So far I've only gotten the As, and will look at doing more next week if no one beats me to it. You may find that in many cases my above-referenced edits to Rule of the shorter term hit the same statutes that are dead-linked here (although there are a lot more dead links here than there). TJRC (talk) 01:52, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Drive-by edit 8 years ago - surely it can't overturn WMF policy?[edit]

On 12 August 2007, User:Haukurth removed the link to Jimbo's 2005 comment where he said "Simply saying 'Well, this is legal under US law, so let's do it' is not a very compelling argument." and he added wording to the effect that Wikipedia "accepts content which is free to use in the United States even if it may be under copyright in some other countries"

There was no discussion of the change before or after. The only contribution to the talk page was the cryptic comment "I had never seen this page until now".

At first sight the change does not appear controversial as plenty of copyright material can be found on Wikipedia, in compliance with all WMF and local policies, under the Non-free content criteria.

However, some editors have interpreted the changed wording to the effect that "Wikipedia only requires an image be free in the US", in apparent contradiction of the Wikimedia Foundation Licensing Policy, which additionally states that it "may not be circumvented, eroded, or ignored by local policies".

In my opinion this article is simply a technical guideline to determine the governing law and is not a suitable forum for a lone editor to try to overthrow any the founding principles of Wikipedia.

The example about works of the US government which may not be public domain outside the US also seems to have little relevence.

I would therefore recommend that either the offending paragraph is removed entirely or it is reworded to emphasise that the purpose of this guideline is to help editors determine the governing law which Wikipedia is subject to, and that as well as that law, any content uploaded must also comply with all relevant project and WMF policies. 9carney (talk) 14:52, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

User, 9carney, I think that may be rather an oversimplification of the situation here. Characterizing it as a "drive-by" edit suggests that the user came, changed, and then went, but in fact he spent some time on revision, including the change you describe here, and he did explain his reasoning in his edit summaries at the time: [11], [12].

This needs some work. Jimbo's letter was about Iranian copyrights which is an unusual degenerate case. Normally we respect foreign copyrights to the (very large) extent that US law does.

This needs some work. Jimbo's letter was about Iranian copyrights which is an unusual degenerate case. Normally we respect foreign copyrights to the (very large) extent that US law does.

(The letter quoted (and still quoted in the policy governing this matter) was about a specific situation: a country with which the US had no copyright agreement. How it should be interpreted broadly, where the dispute is about the nature of creativity, may well be a larger issue and evidently User:Haukurth considered that it was.) That said, you should probably take this up at WP:VPP, if you think that this long-standing practice on Wikipedia should change. What you're talking about would not only impact featured pictures that are legal in the United States but illegal in the countries wherein they were photographed such as the one you are currently arguing should be deleted ( [13]), but also the considerable body of content that includes "sweat of the brow" material, which is not protected in the United States but may be elsewhere. :) --Moonriddengirl (talk) 15:28, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

I don't think it's in contravention of WMF policy. That policy says that we should only have freely licensed content. Part of that content is works which are public domain (i.e. no longer covered by copyright). However, the laws in different countries can vary quite a bit as to how long copyright lasts, and a many other details which can affect status (threshold of originality, for example). WMF policy does not specify exactly which copyright law is used to decide if something is public domain. It is not really practical to require that works be expired in every country in the world before we can use it, so projects typically do pick which laws apply in their policy. I'm pretty sure the English Wikipedia decided long ago that United States law in particular is the controlling law for this project. That is what WP:C says, as well as Wikipedia:Public domain. What Jimbo was referring to was the now-very-rare situation of works from countries where the U.S. has no copyright relations, so technically there is no U.S. federal copyright protection -- in that case, we should still respect copyright to some extent, usually the terms in that country. For some other projects, it may make sense to follow other law -- the German Wikipedia probably follows German law more closely (and perhaps Austrian), as re-use in those markets probably is more of a focus there. Wikimedia Commons, being a more global project, uses both U.S. law and the law of the country of origin as defined by the Berne Convention -- again, far from every country (just two, though that definition means it should be PD in a large number). Anyways, yes, I think the English Wikipedia's decision to use U.S. law only still complies with WMF policy, and it has been policy for some time. That is why we have templates like {{Do not move to Commons}} and {{PD-US-1923-abroad}} and {{FoP-USonly}}. The copyright law of other countries can still apply when it comes to determining URAA restorations though (part of U.S. law); that is what this page is about. Carl Lindberg (talk) 20:32, 19 July 2015 (UTC)