Open main menu
This page is a translated version of a page Commons:Threshold of originality and the translation is 6% complete. Changes to the translation template, respectively the source language can be submitted through Commons:Threshold of originality and have to be approved by a translation administrator.

Other languages:
Deutsch • ‎English • ‎Esperanto • ‎español • ‎français • ‎italiano • ‎polski • ‎русский • ‎ગુજરાતી

Shortcut: COM:TO· COM:TOO

The threshold of originality is a concept in copyright law that is used to assess whether or not a particular work, or a portion of it, can be copyrighted. It is used to distinguish works that are sufficiently original to warrant copyright protection from those that are not. In this context, "originality" refers to "coming from someone as the originator/author" (insofar as it somehow reflects the author's personality), rather than "never having occurred or existed before" (which would amount to the protection of something new, as in patent protection).

The remainder of this page discusses images judged ineligible for copyright protection by a court or similar authority. It's usually unable to determine whether a specific image is within the threshold of originality without a judicial decision. However, per precautionary principle, the image should be deleted if there's significant doubt that the image may be copyrighted.

For further information, see Threshold of originality on Wikipedia.

United States

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO United States

Usono

No information available

Civil law countries

Civil law countries require a relatively high minimum level of intellectual creativity which will exclude typical signatures and simple logos from copyright protection.

If you are aware of specific case law or legal advice on this issue in any country, please add a "Threshold of originality" section to the appropriate Komunejo:Kopirajtaj reguloj laŭ teritorio country subpage, and add a link to it with an entry below.


Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Afghanistan

Afganio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Austria

Aŭstrio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Brazil

Brazilo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Czech Republic

Ĉeĥio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Chile

Ĉilio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO China

Ĉinio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Denmark

Danio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Finland

Finnlando

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO France

Francio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Germany

Germanio

=== Works of fine art (including works of applied art and architectural works) ===

"Works of fine art", as defined in s 2(1)(4) of the 1965 Act on Copyright and Related Rights (Gesetz über Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte) (UrhG), is a catch-all term for works of fine art in a stricter sense, works of applied art, and architectural works. Fine art is distinguished from applied art by its lack of a utilitarian purpose.[1] For many decades, courts imposed a higher threshold of originality on works of applied art than on works of fine art ("two-tier theory").[2] In 2013, however, the Federal Court of Justice expressly changed its jurisprudence, holding that "in general, the copyright protection of works of applied art is not subject to other requirements than the copyright protection of works of non-utilitarian fine art or of literary or musical creation. It is hence sufficient that they attain a level of creativity that allows a public open to art and relatively familiar with views on art to justifiably speak of 'artistic' creations".[3]

In assessing whether an article with a utilitarian purpose is protected by copyright, one must take into account, however, that the aesthetic effect of the article can only provide a basis for copyright protection to the extent that it is not dictated by the article's utilitarian purpose, but instead is based on an artistic effort.[4] Only those features of a utilitarian article that are not entirely dictated by the technical function can justify copyright protection.[5] A feature is considered "dictated by the technical function" if the article could not function without it.[6] This includes features that, for technical reasons, must necessarily be used in articles of the same kind as the article concerned, as well as features that, while being used for technical reasons, are freely selectable or interchangeable. To the extent that the design of such features is entirely dictated by their technical function, they are incapable of justifying copyright protection of the utilitarian article.[7]

Examples from court cases on applied art:[8]

Protection denied:

  • a climbing structure for playgrounds made of ropes (pictured here, p 3 bottom) because the structure consists of freely selectable or interchangeable yet technically required features and does not exhibit artistic creativity;[9]
  • a wooden toy train ("birthday train") with wagons in which candles and numbers can be inserted (pictured here, p 3) because there were similarly-looking, pre-existing toy trains.[10]
  • a logo (pictured here in black and white) consisting of the text "Match by Audiotec X" and the commonly used "fast-forward" symbol because neither the design of the text nor the design of the symbol ("widely used in the audio world") nor the combination of the two could be considered an artistic creation.[11]

Protection accorded:

  • a design element on a cruise ship ("AIDA Smiling Lips") consisting of a mouth painted on the bow, eyes painted on the lateral board walls, and wave lines ("eyebrows") extending from the latter (pictured here, p 3);[12]
  • a train-like line of wooden animal figures on wheels ("birthday caravan") (pictured here, p 3) because it was a complete redesign of pre-existing toy trains, whose locomotive and waggons were replaced with animal figures, and the overall design (shapes, colours) was not the result of technical necessities but an expression of the author's artistic creativity;[13]
  • an urn with an airbrushed deer design (pictured here, on the left);[14]
  • the design of a combined table of standings for three football leagues, which allowed fans to continuously update the tables by sticking cardboard riders with the logos of the football clubs into slits corresponding to their current positions (the case concerned the 2011/12 version of the table by the German magazine Kicker, pictured here, accessed 24 August 2019) even though most of the design features of the sheet were determined by technical considerations;[15]

In the past decades, court cases where protection as applied art was eventually accorded primarily revolved around renowned designer objects, in particular items of furniture and lamps.[16] A few more recent examples:

  • chairs and tables based on drafts by the designers Marcel Breuer ("Wassily" chair, "Laccio" table) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ("Barcelona" chair, stool, couch, and table; "Brno" chair; "Prag" chair);[17]
  • the "Wilhelm Wagenfeld table lamp" (pictured here, accessed 24 August 2019);[18]
  • a brilliant-cut diamond ring ("Niessing-Spannring") (pictured here as "Niessing Ring© ROUND", accessed 24 August 2019).[19]
Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Hungary

Hungario

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Iran

Irano

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Ireland

Irlando

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Italy

Italio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Japan

Japanio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Libya

Libio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Luxembourg

Luksemburgo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Netherlands

Nederlando

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Norway

Norvegio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Peru

Peruo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Portugal

Portugalio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Russia

Rusio

  use {{PD-RU-exempt-autocam}}

A photowork or a videowork made by automatic camera (Russian: автоматическая камера, not to be confused with automated camera: автоматизированная камера) is not the subject of copyright, because such work is made by technical tool without creative human activity.

Examples

  • Any photowork or videowork made by automatic camera for administrative violation record (for example, by automatic camera for driving offense record[20]). The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Part 80 of Session Resolution No. 10 of April 23, 2019 on Application of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation
Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Senegal

Senegalo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Slovenia

Slovenio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO South Korea

Sud-Koreio

According to a machine translation of the Copyright Act as amended up to Act No. 14634 of March 21, 2017,

  • "Work" refers to a creation that expresses human thoughts or feelings.[432/1957–2017 Article 2.2]
Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Sweden

Svedio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Switzerland

Svislando

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Taiwan

Tajvano

No information available

Common law countries

Most Common law countries use a "skill and labour" test to determine the minimum level of originality capable of attracting copyright protection, and in some countries such as the UK the required level is extremely low. Without some research into individual laws, it cannot be assumed that a text logo from a Common law country is necessarily allowed on Commons. If there is real doubt about the position a local court would take, then the image must be deleted under the precautionary principle.

If the logo is extremely simple (e.g. in a standard font), it will not be eligible for copyright even in Common law countries.

If you are aware of specific case law or legal advice on this issue in any country, please add a "Threshold of originality" section to the appropriate Commons:Copyright rules by territory country subpage, and add a link to it with an entry below.

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Australia

Aŭstralio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Canada

Kanado

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Hong Kong

Honkongo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO India

Barato

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Israel

Israelo

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO Nigeria

Niĝerio

No information available

Text transcluded from
COM:TOO New Zealand

Nov-Zelando

No information available

No information available

Logos and flags

Architecture

Images which have been kept because of lack of originality or de minimis:

Note that some of these decisions were controversial.

Photographs

Photographs which have been deemed ineligible for copyright protection:

Charts

Charts which have been deemed ineligible for copyright protection. See the section farther down on partial copying or cropping of uncopyrightable elements from copyrighted works. See also:

Partial copying or cropping of copyrighted works

When a file copies only part of a copyrighted work, that file's copyright status is determined only by what it has copied. If it only copied uncopyrightable elements, then the file is also uncopyrightable. In other words, we judge the copyright status of a file only by what the file itself contains, not by the status of other content the original source contained that was not copied by the file.

 OK This image of the front cover of a novel is public domain in the USA because it only copies uncopyrightable text, not copyrightable contents of the book itself or possibly-copyrightable contents of the back cover. (DR) It would probably not be PD in UK because of the UK's publisher's 25 year copyright on typography.

Lower threshold in United Kingdom etc.

Vidu ankaŭ

References

Some citation text may not have been transcluded

  1. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [17].
  2. See, in particular, Bundesgerichtshof 27 November 1956, case I ZR 57/55 Morgenpost, 22 BGHZ 209, 215ff; Bundesgerichtshof 22 June 1995, case I ZR 119/93 Silberdistel, (1995) 97 GRUR 581, 582. See further A Ohly, "Where is the Birthday Train Heading? The Copyright-Design Interface in German Law" in G Karnell and others (eds), Liber Amicorum Jan Rosén (eddy.se ab 2016) 593ff.
  3. Bundesgerichtshof 13 November 2013, case I ZR 143/12 Geburtstagszug, 199 BGHZ 52 [26].
  4. Bundesgerichtshof 13 November 2013, case I ZR 143/12 Geburtstagszug, 199 BGHZ 52 [41].
  5. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [19].
  6. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [20].
  7. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [20].
  8. Appeals court level or higher. Omitted here are cases where copyright protection was denied based on the now-abandoned "two-tier theory".
  9. Bundesgerichtshof 12 May 2011, case I ZR 53/10 Seilzirkus, (2012) 114 GRUR 58 [30].
  10. Oberlandesgericht Schleswig 11 September 2014, case 6 U 74/10 Geburtstagszug II, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 1 [17]–[23].
  11. Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main 12 June 2019, case 11 U 51/18, (2019) 63 ZUM 787, 788f.
  12. Bundesgerichtshof 27 April 2017, case I ZR 247/15 AIDA Kussmund, (2017) 119 GRUR 798 [11].
  13. Oberlandesgericht Schleswig 11 September 2014, case 6 U 74/10 Geburtstagszug II, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 1 [29]–[31]. Finding of copyright protection not challenged on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 16 June 2016, case I ZR 122/14 Geburtstagskarawane, (2016) 118 GRUR 1291.
  14. Oberlandesgericht Köln 20 February 2015, case 6 U 131/14 Airbrush-Urnen, (2015) 15 GRUR-RR 275 [14]–[16].
  15. Oberlandesgericht Nürnberg 20 May 2014, case 3 U 1874/13 Kicker-Stecktabelle, (2014) 116 GRUR 1199, 1201.
  16. S Zentek, "Acht Jahrzehnte verkanntes Design im deutschen Urheberrecht: Die Geschichte des Schutzes von Gebrauchsgestaltungen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Nationalsozialismus" (doctoral thesis, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf 2015) 276. See also L Mezger, Die Schutzschwelle für Werke der angewandten Kunst nach deutschem und europäischem Recht (V&R unipress 2017) 60f ("hardly possible" in particular to keep track of the jurisprudence on designer furniture).
  17. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 27 April 2011, case 5 U 26/09; affirmed in pertinent part on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 5 November 2015, case I ZR 91/11 Marcel-Breuer­-Möbel II, (2016) 69 NJW 2335 [26]–[28].
  18. Oberlandesgericht Hamburg 30 March 2011, case 5 U 207/08; affirmed in pertinent part on appeal: Bundesgerichtshof 5 November 2015, case I ZR 76/11 Wagenfeld-Leuchte II, (2016) 69 NJW 2338 [20]–[22].
  19. Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf 30 May 2000, case 20 U 4/99 Spannring, (2001) 1 GRUR-RR 294, 296.
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named FineCamera

For more complete, working references see Komunejo:Kopirajtaj reguloj laŭ teritorio and the individual countries and territories: