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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Saudi Arabia relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Saudi Arabia must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Saudi Arabia and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Saudi Arabia, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.


Ibn Saud, son of the former Emir of Nejd, conquered Riyadh in 1902. Over the next thirty years he extended his control over Najd, Hejaz and parts of Eastern and Southern Arabia. He founded the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Saudi Arabia has been a member of the Universal Copyright Convention since 13 July 1994, the Berne Convention since 11 March 2004 and the World Trade Organization since 11 December 2005.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Copyright Law (promulgated by Royal Decree No. M/41 of 2 Rajab, 1424 (August 30th,2003)) as the main IP law enacted by the legislature of Saudi Arabia.[1] WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database.[2][3]


Protected works are: Written materials like books, booklets and others; Works which are verbally delivered like lectures, speeches,poetry, songs and the like; Dramatic works, plays, shows and similar presentations which involve motion, sound or both; Works which are especially prepared for broadcasting or are presented through broadcasting; Drawings, works of plastic arts, architecture, decorative art and artistic embroidery and the like; Sound and audio-visual works; Applied art works, whether handcrafted or manufactured; Photographic works and the like; Illustrations, geographical maps, designs, plans, sketches and sculptured works related to geography, topography, architecture and science; Three Dimensional works of geography, topography, architecture or science; Computer programs. Protection shall include the title of a work, if it is of creative nature, and not a common expression indicating the subject matter of the work.[M/41/2003 Art. 2] Derivative works such as translations, abridgements and collections are also protected.[M/41/2003 Art. 3]

General rules

Under the Copyright Law (M/41 of 30 August 2003),

  • The period of copyright for the author of a work shall be for the duration of his life and for a period of 50 years following his death.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(1)]
  • The period of copyright for joint works shall be computed from the date of the death of the last surviving author.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(2)]
  • The protection period for works where the author is a corporate entity is 50 years from the date of the first publication of the work.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(3)]
  • The protection period for a work whose author's name is unknown is 50 years from the date of the first publication of the work, as long as the author does not become known during this period.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(3)]
  • The protection period for sound works, audio-visual works, films, collective works and computer programs is 50 years from the date of the first show or publication of the work, regardless of republication.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(5)]
  • The protection period for applied art (handcrafted or manufactured) and photographs is 25 years of the date of publication, regardless of republication.[M/41/2003 Art. 19 First(6)]

United States status

In order to be hosted on Commons, all works must be in the public domain in the United States as well as in their source country. Saudi Arabia's works are currently in the public domain in the United States if their copyright had expired in Saudi Arabia on the URAA date of restoration (Dec. 11, 2005).[4]

  • Photographic work or work of applied art: copyright has expired in the U.S. if published prior to 1979
  • Sound works, audio-visual works, films or collective works: copyright has expired in the U.S. if published prior to 1954
  • Broadcast materials: copyright has expired in the U.S. if transmitted prior to 1979
  • Other works with an identifiable author: copyright has expired in the U.S. if author died prior to 1954
  • Work whose author is unknown or was published by a corporate entity: copyright has expired in the U.S. if published prior to 1954

Works not protected

Under the Copyright Law (M/41 of 30 August 2003), protection does not cover the following[M/41/2003 Art. 4]:

  • Laws and Judicial judgments, decisions of administrative bodies, international agreements and all official documents, as well as the official translations thereof, subject to the provisions concerning the circulation of these documents.
  • What is published in newspapers, magazines and periodicals, or broadcasted in daily news or news-like events.
  • Ideas, procedures, work methods, concepts of mathematical sciences, axioms and abstract facts.

Copyright tags

See also: Commons:Copyright tags

  • {{PD-Saudi Arabia}} – photos, films, sound and artistic works 25 years after publication, starting from the publication date.

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

  Not OK

  • The Copyright Law detailed in the Royal Decree No. M/41, 2 Rajab, 1424 (30.08.2003) and the Implementing Regulations contain no mention of freedom of panorama.
  • Even taking pictures of sites not covered by copyrights may be challenged, and photographers operating in Saudi Arabia have found it useful to carry a copy of a decree allowing taking pictures from public places.[5][6]

See also


Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer