Help:Public domain

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This page helps users determine whether a given work is in the public domain in the USA where Wikisource server is hosted, and which template to use.

If a work is in the public domain in Canada but not in the USA, without license compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0 and the GFDL, please post it on Canadian Wikilivres (requiring username as IP users cannot edit there).

This document attempts to clarify whether copyright applies but see also Copyright policy and Copyright tags for categories to use.

Criteria[edit]

These tables summarise the conditions a work must meet in order to be safely considered public domain[1][2].


Published in the United States[edit]

Date of publication Condition[3] What is public domain Template
Before 1923 none. all works. {{PD-1923}}, {{Pd/1923|year of author's death}}, or {{PD-anon-1923}} if anonymous or pseudonymous
1923–1963 with notice, no renewal[b] all works. {{PD-US-no-renewal}}
1923–1963 with notice and renewal[b] Works published more than 95 years ago (1918) none.
1923–1977 no copyright notice all works. {{PD-US-no-notice}}
1964–1977 with notice Works published more than 95 years ago (1918) none.
1978–1 March 1989 no notice or subsequent registration all works. {{PD-US-no-notice-post-1977}}
1978–1 March 1989
  • no notice, but subsequent registration
  • or with notice
works of authors who died 70+ years ago (1943) or 1978+70 if later [4] none.
1 March 1989-2002 Created in 1978 or later works of authors who died more than 70 years ago (1943) none.
2003 or later none. works of authors who died more than 70 years ago (1943) {{PD-US-unpublished}}
Any time prepared by an on-duty officer or employee of the United States Federal Government all works. {{PD-USGov}}
Any time official documents of the United Nations[5] Official records, UN documents issued with a UN symbol, and not-for-sale public information materials designed primarily to inform the public about United Nations activities {{PD-UN}}

Published outside the United States[edit]

Note: Foreign works published after 1923 are likely to be still under copyright in the US because of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, even if they briefly entered public domain before the agreement.[6] Only unambiguous conditions are listed below.

Date of publication Condition What is public domain Template
Before 1 July 1909 none. all works. {{Pd/1923|year of author's death}}, or {{PD-anon-1923}} if anonymous or pseudonymous
1 July 1909–1922 in compliance with US formalities, published in English language, or the author is known to have died in 1943 or earlier (more than 70 years ago) all works. {{Pd/1923|year of author's death}}, or {{PD-anon-1923}} if anonymous or pseudonymous
1923–1977 public domain in its home country as of 1 January 1996 and never published in the US prior to that date all works. {{PD-1996}}, {{Pd/1996|year of author's death}}, or {{PD-anon-1996}} if anonymous or pseudonymous
After 1 January 1978 copyright in its home country works by authors who died more than 95 years ago (1918)

Published in Greater China[edit]

Condition What is public domain Template
Works ineligible for copyright in Mainland China Laws; regulations; resolutions, decisions and orders of State organs; other documents of a legislative, administrative or judicial nature; and their official translations. {{PD-CN}}
Official works of Macao Official works, in particular the texts of treaties, laws and regulations and those of reports or decisions by authorities of any kind, and translations thereof. {{PD-MO}}
Works ineligible for copyright in Taiwan The constitution, acts, regulations, official documents (including proclamations, text of speeches, news releases, and other documents prepared by civil servants in the course of carrying out their duties), and their translations and compilations by central or local government agencies. {{PD-TW}}

Published in Germany[edit]

Condition What is public domain Template
Official works of Germany Official works released by any German federal or state authority or court. Third party translations are not public domain until 70 years after the death of the translator. {{PD-DEGov}}

Published in Indonesia[edit]

Condition What is public domain Template
Works ineligible for copyright Any result of open meetings of state institutions, laws and regulations, state addresses or government official speeches, court decisions and judicial orders or decisions of arbitration boards or of other similar agencies. {{PD-EdictGovIndonesian}}

Corporate authorship[edit]

'Corporate authorship' refers to works written for hire or in the name of a corporation.

Date of publication Conditions Public domain Template
none. unpublished Works created 120+ years ago (1894) none.
1923 through 1977
  • published outside the US and copyright in its home country
works created 120+ years ago (1894) or published 95+ years ago (1919), whichever is earliest. none.
1978–1 March 1989
  • no notice, but subsequent registration
  • or with notice
works created 120+ years ago (1894) or published 95+ years ago (1919), whichever is earliest. none.
After 1 March 1989 none. works created 120+ years ago (1894) or published over 95+ years ago (1919), whichever is earliest. none.

Edict of a government, local or foreign[edit]

Date of publication Conditions Public domain Template
any any Edict of a government, local or foreign; Documents include "judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents" {{PD-GovEdict}}

See Official texts for more information.

Unpublished works[edit]

An unpublished work is one that has never been published in any form, or which was first published after 2003 but created before 1935.

Note for the European Union: If a previously unpublished work is published first time ("editio princeps") later than 70 years after the death of the author, then it is no more public domain but it is granted a copyright for 25 years (Council Directive 93/98/EEC, see here)
Type of work What is public domain Template
  • Most works (except those below)
  • or created before 1978 and published after 2002
works of authors who died more than 70 years ago (1943) {{PD-old-70}}
  • anonymous or pseudonymous
  • or author's date of death unknown
Works created more than 120 years ago (1893) {{PD-old}}

Miscellaneous[edit]

Condition What is public domain Template
No creative content Some works (vague) {{PD-ineligible}}
Copyright released by holder All works {{PD-release}}

Not public domain[edit]

Conditions Date PD
unpublished works created before 1978 and published 1978–2002 No earlier than 2048[a]

Copyright terms by country[edit]

These tables outline the estimated length of time of copyright per country[7][8][9]. Laws regarding anonymous works, corporate-authored works, or non-literary works vary per country. This is not intended to be used as a legal guideline since it cannot reflect the complexity of the copyright laws in effect at any one time and since copyright laws are changing continuously; this section simply provides a useful summary as part of a more in-depth research. See also the following Wikipedia copyright length lists for further information:

Country Copyright length
Albania life + 70
Algeria life + 50
Andorra life + 70
Angola life + 50
Argentina life + 70
Armenia life + 50
Aruba unknown
Australia life + 50 if author died before 1955, otherwise life + 70
Austria life + 70
Azerbaijan life + 50
Bahrain life + 50
Bangladesh life + 50
Barbados life + 50
Belarus life + 50
Belgium life + 70
Belize life + 50
Benin life + 50
Bhutan life + 50
Bolivia life + 50
Bosnia and Herzegovina life + 70
Brazil
  • life + 70 for known authors[10]
  • first publication + 70 for anonymous or pseudonymous works (only if the author doesn't make his identity known before the expiry)[11]
  • first publication + 70 for audiovisual and photographic works[12], phonograms and transmission for the broadcasts of broadcasting organizations[13]
  • texts of treaties or conventions, laws, decrees, regulations, judicial decisions and other official enactments shall be excluded from copyright protection[14]
Brunei life + 50
Bulgaria life + 70
Burkina Faso life + 50
Burundi life + 50
Cambodia life + 50
Cameroon life + 50
Canada life + 50
Cape Verde life + 50
Chile life + 50
China life + 50
Colombia life + 80
Costa Rica life + 70
Cote d'Ivoire life + 99
Croatia life + 50 if author died before 1949[15], otherwise life + 70 [16][17]
Cuba life + 50
Czech Republic life + 70
Denmark life + 70
Djibouti life + 25
Dominica life + 70
Dominican Republic life + 50
Ecuador life + 70
Egypt life + 50
El Salvador life + 50
Estonia life + 70
European Union life + 70
Fiji life + 50
Finland life + 70
France life + 70
Georgia life + 50
Germany life + 70
Ghana life + 70
Greece life + 70
Guatemala life + 75
Honduras life + 75
Hong Kong life + 50
Hungary life + 70
Iceland life + 70
India life + 60 for literary or musical works or artistic works, publication + 60 for others[18].
Indonesia life + 50
Iran life + 30
Iraq life + 50 (imposed by occupying provisional authority)
Ireland life + 70
Israel life + 70
Italy life + 70
Jamaica life + 50
Japan life + 50 (publication + 70 years for motion pictures)
Jordan life + 50
Kazakhstan life + 50
Kenya life + 50
Korea (South) life + 50
Kuwait life + 50
Kyrgyzstan life + 50
Latvia life + 70
Lebanon life + 50
Libya life + 25, with 50-year minimum (as of 1968; may have changed since)
Liechtenstein life + 70
Lithuania life + 70
Luxembourg life + 70
Macao life + 50
Madagascar life + 70
Malaysia life + 50
Maldives none
Mali life + 50
Malta life + 70
Marshall Islands none
Mauritius life + 50
Mexico life + 100
Moldova life + 50
Mongolia life + 50
Montenegro life + 70
Morocco life + 50
Namibia life + 50
The Netherlands life + 70
New Zealand life + 50
Nicaragua life + 70
Niger life + 50

According to Ch. II, Art. 6 of the Nigerien copyright law, items not protected are:

  • official texts of legislative, administrative or judiciary nature, or official translations of such texts,
  • current news items,
  • single facts and statements.
Nigeria Life + 70
Norway life + 70
Oman life + 50
Pakistan life + 50
Palau life + 50
Panama life + 50
Papua New Guinea life + 50
Paraguay life + 70
Peru life + 70
Philippines life + 50
Poland life + 70
Portugal life + 70
Qatar life + 50
Romania life + 70
Russia life + 70(74) (life + 50(54) for works whose copyright expired before January 1, 2004)[19]
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines life + 50
Samoa Life + 75
Saudi Arabia life + 50
Serbia life + 70
Seychelles life + 25
Singapore life + 70
Slovakia life + 70
Slovenia life + 70
Solomon Islands life + 50
South Africa life + 50
Spain life + 80 if author died before December 07, 1987[20], otherwise life + 70 [21]
Sudan life + 50
Swaziland life + 50
Sweden life + 70
Switzerland life + 70
Syria life + 50
Taiwan life + 50
Tajikistan life + 50
Tanzania life + 50
Thailand life + 50
Togo life + 50
Tonga life + 50
Trinidad and Tobago life + 50
Tunisia life + 50
Turkey life + 70
United Arab Emirates life + 50
United Kingdom life + 70
United States of America expired for works published before 1923; 28 or 95 years for works copyrighted 1923-1963; 95 years for works copyrighted 1964-1977; thereafter life+70.
Uruguay life + 50
Uzbekistan life + 50
Venezuela life + 60
Vietnam life + 50
Yemen life + 30
Zambia life + 50
Zimbabwe life + 50

Notes[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. The criteria tables are primarily derived from the Cornell Copyright Information Center's Public Domain chart, which is copyrighted by Peter Hirtle and released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License 2.0.
  2. Copyright durations, Bromberg and Sunstein, LLP
  3. Circular 15a from the United States Copyright Office
  4. s304 Copyright Act 1976 "Copyright in a work created before January 1, 1978, but not theretofore in the public domain or copyrighted, subsists from January 1, 1978, and endures for the term provided by section 302 [17 USCS Sect. 302]. In no case, however, shall the term of copyright in such a work expire before December 31, 2002; and, if the work is published on or before December 31, 2002, the term of copyright shall not expire before December 31, 2027." s302 states "Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections, endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and fifty years after the author's death." The Copyright Term Extension Act extended the dates to December 31, 2047 and seventy years after death.
  5. As Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement for the United Nations, Public Law 80-357 applies the United States laws to the United Nations Headquarters, works published there are copyrighted in the same way as other works published in the United States.
  6. Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Circular 38b (Portable Document Format), Library of Congress Copyright Office
  7. How Can I Tell Whether a Book Can Go Online?, Online Books Page
  8. Summary of copyright terms The Online Books Page
  9. Collection of National Copyright Laws, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation
  10. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 41
  11. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 43
  12. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 44
  13. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 96
  14. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 8
  15. NN 1999/9 Zakon o autorskom pravu (pročišćeni tekst) old law life +50
  16. NN 1999/76 Zakon o izmjenama i dopunama Zakona o autorskom pravu change from life +50 to life +70
  17. Zakon o autorskom pravu i srodnim pravima (valid law)
  18. A Hand Book of Copyright Law, Government of India Ministry of Human Resource Development
  19. copyright.ru (Russian)
  20. Disposición transitoria cuarta. Autores fallecidos antes del 7 de diciembre de 1987. Ley de propiedad intelectual
  21. Artículo 26. Ley de propiedad intelectual

See also[edit]