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ABCD of Copyright

10. Copyright outside the United Kingdom

Of course, nothing is ever easy. This book refers to the UK only. Other countries have different laws and these laws apply if, for instance, a German publisher wishes to use material supplied by a British photographer in Germany.

The European Union have decreed that the term of copyright throughout EU Member States will be harmonised at 70 years after the author’s death which required legislation in every member country and has produced some startling effects, especially where the ‘author’ is a ‘legal person’ such as a company or organisation.

Further afield, the USA has also gone over to the same basic rule, scrapped registration of copyright as a prerequisite of protection and also restored protection to works in the public domain. The reader will need to verify the exact position as and when the need arises since it is not possible to give all the specific detail required in a work of general guidance such as this, particularly as laws are constantly changing.

It doesn’t help that there are countries which consider photography should be subject to an ‘artistic merit test’. Thus, a photographic study which could be considered an artistic work may win many more years’ copyright protection than a documentary photograph and even more than a ‘simple’ photograph which could be anything from a snapshot of a cat to a grabbed picture in the street.

In the UK, every picture is given the same protection, be it an outrageous, over-the-top confection for a worldwide calendar or a snapshot taken by a child. In Germany, a spectacular, prize-winning documentary photograph may cease to be protected during the lifetime of the photographer whilst a lily, tastefully arranged in a vase against drapes, could continue to provide an income for 70 years after the photographer’s death. A photograph could be considered a `photographic work’ in one country and not in another and could be exploited by a third party without the rights owner being paid.

Attitudes towards moral rights differ across Europe and the re-write of copyright laws to harmonise this will be difficult. There is no intention to create one law for all of Europe but there is an intention to harmonise the term of protection. This brings in new problems, as has been indicated throughout this book, especially in relation to `revived’ copyright.

As at June 1999, when this publication was completed, the duration of copyright for photographs in Europe, North America and a selection of countries of interest to the readership of this work was as shown below. Please note the periods and artistic merit tests shown for EU countries are those that applied to photographs immediately before the harmonisation directive was implemented. A † shows which countries have actually written the life plus 70 year rule into their national law . This approach has been adopted because it is not possible, in a work of this kind, to show all the complexity of the transitional provisions in each country and how they have dealt with the problem of protecting photographs for a fixed period when they may also have an artistic merit test. Further specialist advice will be needed for most practical purposes, but as a general rule it is fair to say that in all cases the longest applicable term of protection is still in force.

Australia

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making or publication. Photographic works in Crown copyright:50 years from year-end of making or publication.

Austria†

Photographic works: 70 years post mortem auctoris* (pma). Simple photographs: 30 years from year-end of making or publication.

Belgium†

Photographic works: 50 years pma + 10 years war-time extension.

Canada

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making. Photographic works in Crown Copyright: 50 years from year-end of making or publication.

Denmark†

Photographic works: 25 years from year-end of making.

Finland†

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making.

France†

Photographic works: 50 years pma + 14 years and 274 days for work still protected on August 13 1941 (war-time extension); plus possible additional 30 years for ‘death whilst serving France’.

Germany†

Photographic works: 70 years pma. Documentary works: 50 years from year-end of publication or 50 years of making if unpublished within these 50 years. Simple photographs: 25 years from year-end of publication or 25 years of making if unpublished within these 25 years.

Greece†

Photographic works: 50 years pma. Simple Photographs: 10 years from year-end of publication for reproduction in anthologies.

Ireland†

Photographic works: 50 years pma or 50 years from year-end of publication.

Photographic works in Government copyright: 50 years from year-end of publication.

Italy

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making or publication + 6 years war-time extension. Simple photographs: 20 years from year-end of making .

Japan

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making or publication + 10 years extension for citizens of France, UK and US.

Luxembourg†

Photographic works: 50 years from year-end of making.

Netherlands†

Photographic works: 50 years pma.

New Zealand

Photographic works: 50 years pma. Computer-generated works: 50 years from year-end of making. Photographic works in Crown copyright: 50 years from year-end of making.

Norway

Photographic works: 15 years pma. 25 years from year-end of first publication in the case of corporate bodies.

Portugal†

Photographic works: 25 years from year-end of making.

Russian Federation

Photographic works: 50 years pma, 50 yars from year-end of publication if published as an anonymous work.

Spain†

Photographic works: 60 years pma. Simple photographs: 25 years from year-end of making.

Sweden†

Photographic works: 50 years pma for artistic and scientific photographs, all others 25 years from year-end of making.

Switzerland

Photographic works: 70 years pma*.

United States of America

Photographic works: 70 years pma or December 31 2002, whichever is the later, for works created after January 1 1978. Works created but not published or registered before January 1 1978 have 95 years of protection from the date that copyright was originally secured. 95 years in the case of anonymous or pseudononymous works or 120 years from year of creation, whichever expires first.

*pma(Post mortem auctoris): after the author’s death.

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