When Does Copyright Expire On Photos

By | 01/11/2022

Copyright expiry in Australia
depends on when a work was created, and on the type of work. Under the current law, copyright usually expires 70 years after the death of the author, or for anonymous works, seventy years from the date of publication. Crown copyright expires 50 years after publication. The police force has evolved over the years, and previously photographs were treated differently from other works. Anonymous works and photographs created before 1955 are no longer under copyright. For non-photographic works created before 1955, where the author is known, the copyright expires 50 years later the death of the writer.

Public domain photos earlier 1955


  • Photographs taken before 1955 are now in the public domain
  • Photographs taken since 1955 volition not be in the public domain until ane Jan 2026 at the earliest, unless under crown copyright which expires l years later beginning publication.

Any photo, published or unpublished, anonymous or attributed, taken before 1 January 1955 is out of copyright and in the public domain. The Australian Copyright Quango is quite specific and unambiguous in regard to copyright constabulary on photographs taken prior to 1 January 1955:

“If photographs were taken prior to 1 January 1955, copyright has now expired.”[1]
“The duration of copyright in photographs has changed significantly as a consequence of Australia implementing its obligations nether the Australia-U.s. Gratuitous Trade Understanding (AUSFTA). New rules accept been introduced to determine the elapsing of photographs that were all the same protected by copyright on 1 January 2005 or that were taken after that appointment. These rules came into effect on one Jan 2005:
“For photographs which were still in copyright on ane January 2005, or which were created on or subsequently that date, copyright now lasts until 70 years from the cease of the twelvemonth the lensman died.
“If the photographer is unknown or used a pseudonym, duration continues indefinitely until the photograph is published. Once it is published, duration will then terminal until 70 years from the stop of the year in which it was published
“All photographs taken before i January 1955 are now out of copyright and do not benefit from the new rules.”[2]

Copyright term


For cloth created or published since 1 January 2019, the rules are simpler.

Under the old pre-FTA organization, all photos taken before ane January 1969 were out of copyright 50 years from when taken. After ane January 1969, it was l years from the end of the twelvemonth it was commencement published. Thus, when the FTA came into effect on 1 Jan 2005, only photos taken earlier 1 January 1955 were out of copyright under the erstwhile system. Now, for a photograph taken on or subsequently ane Jan 1955, copyright for non-Crown Copyright photos is “life of creator plus 70”.

The copyright in the words for a newspaper article (or in a drawing) is owned by the writer (or illustrator, etc.). If the writer died before i January 1955, then the work is out of copyright; alternatively if the author is unknown (and cannot be discovered by reasonable enquiry), and if first published before ane January 1955, so the work is out of copyright. The copyright in the layout expires 25 years after the terminate of the year in which it was kickoff published. For artistic works other than photographs and engravings (then including drawings, paintings, sculpture) information technology was “life plus 50” and is now “life plus 70”. If the creator is unknown, information technology was “first published plus fifty” and is now “outset published plus lxx”. So if the creator died before 1 January 1955 or is unknown and the work was first published before 1 January 1955, and then the work is out of copyright. This “in general” applies even if the creator was an employee of the newspaper which holds the actual copyright.[3]

For artistic works other than photographs and engravings (and so including drawings, paintings, sculpture) it was “life plus 50” and is now “life plus 70”. If the creator is unknown, it was “first published plus l” and is now “first published plus lxx”. So if the creator died before 1 Jan 1955 or is unknown and the work was first published earlier one Jan 1955, then the work is out of copyright. This “in general” applies even if the creator was an employee of the newspaper which holds the actual copyright.

For regime owned photographs: copyright expires l years from the cease of the year they were taken. Thus authorities-endemic images made before 1972 are out of copyright.

In 2015, ALIA announced a campaign called “Cooking for Copyright”, highlighting the perpetual copyright condition of unpublished works such as diaries, letters, company records and handwritten recipes.[4]
Recipes including Captain Melt’due south carrot marmalade[5]
were published on Off-white’due south website, breaking the existing law.[vi]
In June 2017, a law was passed which included a ‘life of the author plus lxx years’ copyright term for unpublished works,[vii]
which came into effect on 1 Jan 2019.[8]

Works held in Libraries


The National Library Picture Catalogue[9]
states that permission must be asked to copy photos from their site. However, in the case of images taken before 1955, it is seen as peradventure being a request with no legal basis because the images are public domain (when copied within Australia). Once something is in the public domain, the copyright belongs to everyone. An argument given by the British Library online[ten]
is that “The original work(due south) are in the public domain, the copies the Library supplies are in copyright as they are new copies of the original materials which are what copyright is held. This is why you will need to clear permission.” The National Library, for its part, states that photographs taken before ane January 1955 are indeed “all out of copyright”, just requires a formal declaration of intent to publish, and an acknowledgement of the National Library “as custodian of the material”[11]
The State Library of Victoria, which does not concur copyright for some of its works says that “Information technology must exist stressed that obtaining permission to reproduce an particular is non the same every bit copyright. The Country Library of Victoria oftentimes does not hold the copyright for items in its collections”[12]

Foreign works


Nether lex loci protectionis, a court in a particular country volition utilise its own copyright laws when determining decease dates. Under Part VIII, Division 1, of Australian copyright law, foreign works, foreign citizens, and strange residents are treated as though Australian, provided the foreign country is political party to a relevant international agreement and gives “adequate protection” to owners of copyright. Australia does non employ the rule of the shorter term, so the expiry appointment of a work in its country of origin has no effect on its condition in Commonwealth of australia.

Comparison with American copyright law


  • Works published outside the United States earlier 1978 without compliance with US formalities that are in the public domain in their home state as of 1 January 1996 are in the public domain in the United States.[thirteen]

American Off-white Utilize entitles the utilize of copyrighted cloth in articles directly near the copyrighted material, for such uses as parody or critique. A question has arisen every bit to what the status of copyright law is for material which is loaded onto an American site, from Australia, whether it falls under Australian or American copyright law. Information technology has been regarded that images in the public domain in Australia are not necessarily so in the U.S. An epitome existence in the public domain in Australia may not necessarily imply that it is in the public domain in the U.S.[
citation needed

See too


  • Copyright constabulary of Australia
  • Berne Convention
  • History of off-white use proposals in Commonwealth of australia



  1. ^

    > Photographers & Copyright data sheet No. G011 p. ane. Retrieved v December 2011.

  2. ^

    > Photographers & Copyright information sheet No. G011 p. 4. Retrieved 5 December 2011.

  3. ^

    [1] Meet the tables of the duration of copyright.] January 2019.

  4. ^

    “Librarians cook up vintage recipes in bid to change copyright laws”.
    ABC News. 28 July 2015.

  5. ^

    Martin, Peter (8 August 2015). “Indefinite copyright is a joke – the recipe for carrot marmalade proves it”.
    The Sydney Morning Herald
    . Retrieved
    3 Jan

  6. ^

    “Report: Cooking for Copyright”
    . Retrieved
    3 January

  7. ^

    “Cooking for Copyright! – the Second Course – The Copyright Office Blog”.
    . Retrieved
    9 January

  8. ^

    “2019 Australia’s Year of the Public Domain”. Australian Libraries copyright commission. 27 Dec 2018.

  9. ^

    “Pictures | National Library of Commonwealth of australia”. Nla.gov.au. Retrieved
    27 December

  10. ^

    [ii] Archived 30 Oct 2005 at the Wayback Machine

  11. ^

    “Rights and the Pictures Collection”. National Library of Australia. Retrieved
    28 January

  12. ^

    [three] Archived 8 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine

  13. ^

    “Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United states of america”. cornell.edu. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved
    27 December

External links


  • Copyright infosheet eleven pdf
  • [4]
  • National Library copyright
  • NLA pictures copyright
  • British library online FAQ permission
  • Land Library of Victoria permission
  • NPG copyright
  • Intellectual belongings copyright U.k.
  • The correct to brandish public domain images
  • COPYRIGHT ACT 1968 – SECT 180

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_expiration_in_Australia