Commons talk:Derivative works

Active discussions

Image DescriptionEdit

Says: A photograph of the Venus de Milo is a derivative work. Luckily, the artist died more than 2000 years ago, so the statue is in the public domain - no copyright problems here! If you create a replica of the statue, it's not copyrightable by you, either. - Is this true? Can we search Google for sculptures or something whichs creator died over 100 years before? --Stefan-Xp 07:35, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Only if the photo is PD-old or freely licensed --Fb78 18:12, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
So in fact the description is wrong? --Stefan-Xp 20:08, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
By "it", I didn't mean the photograph, but the replica. The sentence leads to misunderstandings, so I removed it. --Fb78 23:37, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
By the way, this image has had caption with the phrase Luckyly, the artist died... for years. I understand people has to die somewhen, and that humanity takes advantage of expiration of copyirights, but I don't think it's good taste to describe an author's death as a lucky event. --Javier ME (talk) 09:08, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Modell RecreationsEdit

Is it allowed to photograph Modells of real things, which are exactly the same, just in another scale? --Stefan-Xp 08:06, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Not necessarily; there are numerous court cases in the United States finding that a scale model of a public domain object was copyrighted, because the reduction and simplification of details in the model required creative decisionmaking. Postdlf 17:37, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Surely you may take a picture?Edit

«By taking a picture, you do create a copyright for your own work (i.e. the photograph). At the same time, the rights of the original still exists and don't go away. By taking the picture, you do something only the original copyright holder is allowed to do.»

About the last sentence in italics. Afaik, you are allowed to take the picture, you just may not release it publicly. -Samulili 08:39, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Agreed, perhaps it should say "publishing" not "taking". pfctdayelise (translate?) 09:29, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
How do you interpret the line "The owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights (...) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work"? --Fb78 13:56, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
That's a matter of debate and that's why there is Commons:Panorama freedom in some countries. -- Ayacop 09:35, 8 October 2006 (UTC)


There seems to be a misunderstanding about PD-old. You don't need to mention the source of a PD-old image. If the copyright of a work is expired, no one holds any rights to the image. If someone puts it up his/her webpage, he holds no rights to it. If he/she requires to have their name or website mentioned, that might even be illegal in some legislations, because you can't take PD-old images and say you have rights on them if it isn't so. --Fb78 14:00, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Don't you need to specify the source so other can verify that the image is PD-old? Kjetil_r 20:21, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes of course, but that is no legal requirement, only an internal one. Most links to third party sites are pretty useless when it comes to PD claims (see all the misleading PD claims from archives, image collections etc.) When you upload an image, you should specify its creator and, if possible, the death date of the creator and the time when it was created. Those are the things that are important, not where exactly you got the image from. --Fb78 23:29, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
What's the difference between a legal requirement and an internal one?? We still require it! Obviously a website is not the best source but it's better than nothing (which is what we frequently get) and at least it's a starting point. pfctdayelise (translate?) 01:31, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Sure, you're right. It's just that there seem to be so many misconceptions about copyright flying around on Commons that it's really important to tell people the actual facts. What's legal, what's not, what information has to be provided, why does it have to be provided. Let me put it this way: We're pushing the envelope of the law sometimes, but we respect it. There's no need to be more restrictive than copyright law itself. So we have to clearly tell people: PD images are free information, no one can claim it's their property. That's important to know! Then again, they must give us information so we can double-check the status, because there are too many doubtful cases.
By the way, question: Do you happen to know if there ever was a voting or anything about which country's legislations have to be taken into account? Legally spoken, you can be sued for copyright infringement in any country of the world, but it would probably be more practical if we require e.g. PD images to be PD in their country of origin and in the US as well.
Also, I suggest pages that clarify Commons:PD-old and Commons:Panorama freedom. I could create such pages, if anyone - like you, pfctdayelise - thinks it's a good idea. --Fb78 09:36, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
You might want to take a look at User:Alx/Sandbox — a working draft for your proposed Commons:Panorama freedom. Lupo 11:19, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Good work. Maybe we can break it down into one pretty table with colors and everything? --Fb78 13:24, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Sure, try it. I'm not too good with tables myself. When coloring, beware of special cases (such as the UK, where murals and other 2D artwork are not covered, whereas they do seem to be covered by the Swiss version of Panoramafreiheit!) BTW, thanks for the link to de:Wikipedia:Wappen! Lupo 13:39, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually, it is always a requirement in many legislations (particularly in many European countries) to name the author of a work upon distribution because even after copyright expires, some moral rights may still subsist. LX (talk, contribs) 14:30, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes please make Commons:Freedom of panorama (I think this is the usual translation). And please make very clear which laws apply to which countries, because not all countries have these laws. pfctdayelise (translate?) 11:52, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


Derivative works can be speedily deleted, right? Maybe we need a template for marking them, say {{Derivative}}. -Samulili 17:49, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Can they? I have a small list of things that would qualify. Have enough been deleted on deletion requests to make it de facto policy? Kotepho 19:36, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Category:Statues of the United StatesEdit

Most of the photos in Category:Statues of the United States do not specify the creator of the statue. May I put {{Nsd}} on all that do not specify the creator and then delete them after a week? Kjetil_r 20:18, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Well, stuff like this Image:Moma boccioni 03.jpg certainly has to be deleted. The Statue of Liberty is PD, I suppose. If you're not sure, don't delete. Also, I think you shouldn't use {{Nsd}}, but {{Copyvio}}... or maybe {{Derivative}}? --Fb78 23:33, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
I want to put {{Nsd}} when I'm not sure, so the uploader has to find out. If I am sure will I delete it right away. Kjetil_r 00:01, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

3D thingEdit

This thing about 3D, it isn't universal is it? Afaik, there is nothing in the Finnish copyright act about a photograph of a 3D object being treated differently from a photograph of a 2D object. Therefore, if I'm not mistaken, when a photograph of a PD-old statue or a framed painting is taken by a Finn and published in Finland, it can be used as such without cropping. -Samulili 08:16, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Actually, no, now that I think of more clearly. Rather, even a picture of 2D PD-old object can't be used without a permission. -Samulili 10:27, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Australian lawEdit

I think this needs to be rewritten to emphasise the applicability of a particular country's law. I am deeply unhappy to see "derivative work, delete" slapped on things without any mention of the source nation and which laws, exactly, one is applying the concept to.

For example, Australia: Copyright Act 1968 "Division 7--Acts not constituting infringements of copyright in artistic works"

  • SECT 65: Sculptures and certain other works in public places: "The copyright in a work to which this section applies that is situated, otherwise than temporarily, in a public place, or in premises open to the public, is not infringed by the making of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of the work[...]."
  • SECT 66: Buildings and models of buildings: "The copyright in a building or a model of a building is not infringed by the making of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of the building or model[...]."

--pfctdayelise (translate?) 10:54, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

That's Panorama freedom, which differs from country to country and is even unknown in some countries. It does exist e.g. in Austria (including indoor views), Germany (outdoor views only, image must also be taken from a public place: taking an image of the Hundertwasser house in Vienna from a private flat on the first floor of the building across the street and then publishing that image is ok in Austria, but not in Germany), Switzerland (including murals), or the UK (two-dimensional reproductions of three-dimensional originals only, murals excluded). It does not exist in e.g. France (and thus nighttime photos of the illuminated Eiffel tower nighttime photos of the illuminated Eiffel tower (that's the one I was thinking of. Lupo 15:21, 13 July 2006 (UTC)) are, as derivative works of the lighting, which is considered art, subject to the copyright of the lighting), or Belgium (viz. the Atomium debate), and in the U.S., it exists only for images of buildings (17 USC 120), but does not exist for sculptures (see the current debate on the Chicago Millenium park). As the "Hundertwasser house" case beautifully illustrates, something may be ok in its country of origin, but forbidden in some other country. So which country's laws do you want to apply? Country of origin and U.S.? Or only U.S. law? In both cases only images of buildings may stay. Only country of origin? Then hosting some such images in the U.S. may be illegal. It's a mess, and another case on which some official guideline from our lawyers might be helpful. Lupo 11:15, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
P.S.:Own images of sculptures that are out of copyright are of course ok. Lupo 11:15, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
Well normally country of origin seems to be the most appropriate. I'm not denying there's plenty of countries with stupid laws where these rights do not apply. I just would like to see some care taken. pfctdayelise (translate?) 11:18, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Packaging with logosEdit

There is one rather important matter that this article does not treat -- packaging on which a logo is present. For instance, have a look at this photo of a bottle of liquor. The copyrighted logo is the photo's principal subject, yet the bottle itself is also shown.

And what about this shot of a diet coke can that also includes a glass? Are we allowed to have pictures of consumer products on the Commons that include packaging or not? Harder still is this photo of a barn with logos and slogans on it.

I'm tempted to say that such photos whose principal subjects are logos aren't kosher, but such a rule would be easily transformable into a blanket ban on all photos of consumer products. I'm no lawyer, I give up, someone who knows what she/he's doing please comment. This issue can't be ducked, because there are already so many such photos on the Commons. --Zantastik 04:27, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Trademark law exists to protect the association of a trademark with a product. Photos that include trademarks do not remove the connection. The can with the Pepsi logo on it is obviously a can of Pepsi cola. While somebody could download the image and use it or modify it in a way that would violate the trademark, I don't think that should be Wikimedia's concern. —TheMuuj Talk 18:46, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Political advertisementsEdit

I am new to this concept. But I wonder, does all the photos in Category:Political_advertising and Category:Murals per se violate copyright? Bertilvidet 12:10, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I'd say yes. The artist who makes the mural holds the copyright to the art; a photograph of the mural is a derivative work. Same goes for graffiti art like this: [1] The latter point has been contested on this enwiki talk page and my co-debater suggested I bring the issue here. Any thoughts? Haukurth 13:02, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Do you mean the "vandalism, not art" argument? I think that's completely bollocks. Copyright does not protect only publically accepted art but things that are original (threshold of originality). -Samulili 14:49, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
So you are saying that an artist owns a copyright on medium they do not own, cannot stop from being destroyed and cannot claim ownership of without going to jail, further ownership is not stated, nor is copyright status observable by lack of identifiable ownership. I would like to see a legal ruling supporting this, not just ones own opinion. -- 19:03, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Photographs of buildings and artworks in public spacesEdit

I don't understand the use of Positive and Negative before the lists of countries. Does Positive mean derivative works are ok or not ok? And is that only for 'permanently installed' artworks? Or public artworks in general? --Duncancumming 19:37, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

The issue really is illegal graffiti on buildings. -- Zer0faults 19:00, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Graffiti are only a small part of the issue. (In fact, Graffiti are more complex, as we don't know whether illegally painted graffiti are eligible to copyright at all. I doubt it. Legally painted murals, however, certainly are subject to copyright.) To answer the original question: positive means the country does have "freedom of panorama". See COM:FOP for the details, which vary from country to country. Lupo 08:03, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Threshold of originality and a motorcycleEdit

I nominated the photograph Image:OCC-FIREBIKE.JPG for deletion in August. There was no consensus to delete the image. However, I feel that the issue wasn't discussed in the perspective of Threshold of originality. Albeit unusual, I feel simply arguing, "but it's a motorcycle" dismisses the act of artistic creation that to me clearly has been at work in this particular case, and would be in comparable cases. __meco 20:31, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Though no doubt creativity was involved in its design, and it would probably get one in all sorts of trouble if you started selling a motorbike of the same design, there is generally considered to be an exception for photography of utilitarian objects. This exception is similar in scope to the "freedom of panorama" that exists in some countries.--Pharos 04:36, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Category:Dinosaur modelsEdit

Most (if not all) of the images in this category, which are all photographs of sculptures, fail to provide any source information for those sculptures. Postdlf 17:35, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Photograph upload from painting owned by userEdit

Hi, I uploaded the image of a painting into commons which I bought in 1990. ( On de:wikipedia I got a debate by someone questioning my right to publish this without consent of the painter. I assume that I have the right as I bought that painting in Tanzania. Who knows better? --Kipala 10:49, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Since you did not create (the creative part of) the work but the African painter, he has the copyright of the picture, not you. Even you are owning the work, you cannot release it into the Public Domain without the consent of the author. If you want to have more details, you might want to have a look at derivative works. --Matt314 15:35, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
This sounds wrong to me. If I buy a print, I don't get the copyright. But if I buy the original, by default, I get the copyright as well. Yes, the two can be separated, but that has to be done explicitly. Regards, Ben Aveling 23:37, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
By default, copyright, or parts thereof, are not transferred when you buy an item. So it is in fact the opposite: transferring the copyright must be explicitly stated. Samulili 12:27, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, believe me, if you bought a painting or sculpture from a leading modern artist, and started going into business selling reproductions, you would get your pants sued off.--Pharos 14:35, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

My revert on graffitiEdit

This was discussed in February on the Village Pump; see [2]. Kelly Martin 14:29, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I have removed the paragraph now to not encourage such uploads, and I hope that my version can be restored again. We cannot accept gray areas such as Nazi or Soviet pictures, and for graffiti it amounts to the same. --Rtc 11:01, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Would someone come to a decision on this? (One of my uploads kicked off this whole question of graffiti and street murals.) I wouldn't mind the images that I uploaded being deleted, but I would be furious if, after days of waiting around with a disputed speedy tag on my images resulted in the addition to policy, future uploads were deleted because of this waffling. If it's acceptable, the policy should say so and it should be encouraged. If it's not acceptable, such images should be deleted. There appeared to be a well-formed discussion with multiple users at Commons:Village pump/Archive/2007Feb#Graffiti, so I suppose it's up to Rtc to make the argument as to why they're wrong. I have no idea what the Nazi/Soviet reference means. - BanyanTree 07:15, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Privacy rightsEdit

I don't think we have a page about privacy rights yet, but it seems similar to this kind of page, so maybe a similar crowd will be interested.

Anyway if we end up writing one, there is a hugely useful and relevant article at for the case in Australia. It also makes some comment about the UK and North America cases. And it was WRITTEN BY A LAWYER-TYPE. woot. --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 13:13, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

We have Commons:Photographs of identifiable people. The page you refer to seems to suffer from a bias and a mission which obscures neutrality. Samulili 17:55, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Er, how so?? --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 03:35, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Under France: "Thankfully none of this applies in Australia. Is it only a matter of time? Let's hope not." Title: "Photography is Not (yet) a Crime". And the page ends with a petition. Maybe I don't know the backgrounds, and certainly the page is not just propaganda. But it does have a POV. Samulili 07:54, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Future undeletionEdit

Pictures that have been deleted only because of copyright will one day come out of copyright. Is there any plan to undelete them? Should there be? Regards, Ben Aveling 13:10, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

The vast majority of these will not come out of copyright for many decades, and who knows what the situation will be like then. It's probably not worth it to keep track of these at all, except maybe the ones that we know will enter the public domain in less than a decade.--Pharos 04:17, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
@Pharos: Why do you think it's not worth it? Regards, Jeromi Mikhael (marhata) 07:20, 4 September 2020 (UTC)

Images of products and vehicles used to identify their subjectsEdit

I've only recently found out about this policy, and I'm not clear if images of certain vehicles or objects fail this policy. For example. Wikipedia:en:Image:DDR US 1st alt.jpg is a photograph of a Dance Dance Revolution machine used at Wikipedia to identify a DDR machine. Is that a derivative? Another type is photographs of public transportation vehicles (such as busses, trains and ferries) that are used to distinguish certain bus types from other fleets. Wikipedia:en:Image:Walnut_Creek_Gillig_Trolley.JPG for example. --wL <speak·creatively> 06:07, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I wanted to ask the same. All of this is very confusing, well, a lil bit. Eacz12 21:02, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Those examples should be fine. The idea is basically that something like a photograph of a collectible toy based on a copyrighted fictional character would be unacceptable. And likewise something that's say, just a close-up of a logo on a commercial product.--Pharos 00:13, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

"Toys" as artEdit

The policy several times refers to "toys" as art that can't be freely photographed; but surely this only really applies to "branded" toys like action figures. I don't see such restrictions applying to photographs of yo-yos. Surely this can be clarified?--Pharos 07:51, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

It's not the branding itself that matters but the originality od shape. An action figure is legally 'original', but a conventionally-shaped yo-yo is not. There may, however, be copyright in any artwork on the side. --MichaelMaggs 12:44, 15 September 2007 (UTC)


After making some possibly bold edits, I realised that this page claims to be a policy. In fact, it has been categorised as a policy since its inception. Was its categorisation as policy preceded by any discussion to determine that the way it was worded had a "wide acceptance among editors"? If so, where? If it is indeed a policy, it should have {{Policy}} at the top. Personally, I think it's too poorly structured and worded to be even a guideline, let alone a policy.

Just to be clear: I agree wholeheartedly that all Commons users must abide by the law. I just don't think we need to turn an imperfect guide on how not to break the law into policy. LX (talk, contribs) 17:55, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Being a wiki made by non-professionals, the page naturally has its issues with quality. This issues should be addressed just the way you did. In spite of the problems, the summary does reflect a policy that has been followed since before this page (IIRC) and after it. That's why I think it's fair to label this as a policy. Samulili 18:17, 21 July 2007 (UTC)
No, it roughly reflects a consensus here on Commons and covers some legal concepts which we are required to follow regardless of policies and guidelines. However, it simply is not stable enough nor formulated rigorously enough to be a policy. It was never tagged with {{Proposed}}, and its acceptance as a supposed policy was never discussed. I'm removing the policy marking and settling for {{Guideline}} as a compromise (really, even calling it a guideline should be preceded by discussion, but it's better than calling it a policy). LX (talk, contribs) 11:58, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I think this is a greatly mistaken, process-bound view of how a wiki works. It's policy because everyone must follow it. "Policy" does not mean "we had a vote". Similarly, "guideline" does not mean "we can't be bothered to have a vote".
James F. (talk) 07:59, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Of course it doesn't mean that, since Commons policies are typically based on consensus rather than votes. This page was boldly tagged as a policy. I disagreed with that and felt that there was no demonstrated consensus for it, so as a compromise, I suggested tagging it as a guideline instead. I think that's perfectly in line with how consensus is built.
This has more to do with the state of the document than with processes. I simply felt that the page was in need of greater improvements than {{Policy}} suggests. For example, while the page was still marked as a policy, it claimed that "You are not permitted on Commons to upload photographs of works of art that are still copyrighted," which is certainly not true, and not something that everyone must follow. It is, for example, perfectly permissible to upload a CC-by-sa licensed photo of a copyrighted CC-by-sa work of art. LX (talk, contribs) 14:14, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Fan artEdit

There is an ongoing discussion about Fan Art at Commons talk:Fan art. Comments are welcome. --MichaelMaggs 07:36, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Images of Mickey Mouse and other trademarked charactersEdit

What is the status of images like these within the Wikimedia commons project?

As anyone who has attended one of these Parades at Disney theme parks, photography and videos are positively encouraged. These are all copyrighted and trademarked characters. Are the images derivative works? While we are at it, whats the status on these images (copyrighted statue etc.) in a public place. Derivative works?:

Again, these are in designated "photography encouraged" area of the theme parks. I'd like to know the status of these images before I upload anymore of them and waste my time later if they get deleted. Yes, I was on a holiday... and took a lot of pictures... --Eqdoktor 09:24, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, all of these are derivatives, and need to be deleted. Masses of images along these lines have gone already, but more are being uploaded all the time, and some do slip though. A good summary of the law can be found at Commons:Derivative works#I know that I can't upload photos of copyrighted art (like paintings and statues), but what about toys? Toys are not art!. The general rule is that 3D models and sculptures are always copyright, and unless they are old enough to be PD they can't stay here. There are exceptions in a very few countries (such as the UK), where photo of sculptures in a public place are allowed - see Freedom of panorama - but that applies neither to Disneyland Florida nor Disneyland Paris.
You mention that in Disney parks there are areas where photography is encouraged. Unfortunately, that does not mean that Disney is granting the photographer the type of free licence that is needed here. The encouragement is simply for holiday snaps for private use only. If you were to try to use one of those images commercially you would almost certainly get a lawyer's letter and quite possibly a writ. Commons requires fully free licences, including commercial use. It would be good to be able to host these images, but unfortunately we can't --MichaelMaggs 12:42, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I have put in the request for all the above images to be speedily deleted as copyvio - derivative works unsuitable for commons. --Eqdoktor 06:25, 17 September 2007 (UTC)


Can somebody help me? Is this picture's subject

is copyrighted? Thanks --Beyond silence 08:59, 19 September 2007 (UTC)


I've made a picture of a mascot (Image:Carlton the Bear.jpg) at a public event in Canada. Photography was not forbidden, the person itself is not recognizable, but is a mascot a work of art and thus a derivative work? -- Cecil 22:22, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

The mascot character is copyrighted, so yes, this is a derivative work. This is the same as a man dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume at Disneyland.--Pharos 21:33, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. Carlton the bear is nothing else than a polar bear and is not copyright protected in the way Mickey Mouse is. / Fred J 21:40, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that Carlton has a rather simple design. There a several more creative designs in Category:Mascots. But I don't know how teams are claiming their mascots. Even though Carlton is now deleted I hope this discussion can continue and the issue solved. -- Cecil 22:53, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Proposed additionsEdit

Here's a set of coasters made from crochet, paper mache, and decoupage. The photograph is a derivative work of the original design. Commons has a clear right to host this particular image because the original crafter photographed and uploaded it.

In light of this discussion I suggest we update the wording here to include the following:

Freehand sketches or paintings that are obvious copies of a copyrighted photograph are derivative works.

Also, an unrelated suggestion that's informed some of my own recent uploads:

Utilitarian items that are the works of a craft artist are copyrightable. So although an ordinary set of coasters would not be subject to copyright, an handcrafted set of coasters would be. Uploading a photograph of this type of item could affect the artist's livelihood since the crafter may wish to continue exclusive production, or sell design instructions to a magazine, or market a kit for hobbyists to recreate the item.

Thoughts? Durova 21:18, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

On suggestion 2: So we are to recognize proprietary interests in "starving artist" handcrafted coasters, but not on "corporate" manufactured coasters? A double standard, no? Both have equally copyrightable 2-D designs, but they're also both utilitarian objects as I see it. I don't think allowing photographs would put kit-selling or anything like that in danger — surely this would be the same issue as for as a statue under FOP, where the sculptor retains rights to the work itself, but not the right to restrict photography.--Pharos 02:30, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
See this existing policy section. Ordinary utilitarian items are exempt from copyright. What the current policy fails to articulate sufficiently is that copyright does apply to items where a substantial creative component exists separate from the utilitarian function. In the particular case of professional craft artists infringement poses a serious threat to their livelihood. It is relatively easy to imitate designs, mass produce them in a country that has a low wage scale, and resell in a country that has a higher wage scale. It's not actually a corporate/starving artist distinction. Some corporations mass produce copyrightable utilitarian items. For instance, Disney. Durova 11:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

derivative works of files from Wikimedia:Commons - always allowed?Edit

Naturally it's allowed to create derivative works of files from Wikimedia:Commons. You must only keep the license conditions of the file.

The above is from Commons:Derivative works#Derivative works of files from Wikimedia:Commons, and it confuses me. I was directed here from a discussion on Commons:Deletion_requests where an existing Commons image A (that had a copyrighted poster in the background) was cropped to make image B (isolating the poster). A was accepted as being "free" (ie. Ok for Commons) while B was accepted as being a copyright violation (because it isolated the copyrighted poster).

Assuming US law, I *think* I understand the copyright argument (that A is copyright of the photographer while B is copyright of the poster maker).

Commons:Licensing under Scope of licensing seems to reinforce this interpretation:

This is often problematic, if the artwork is not the primary content of the image or is not clearly recognizable: in that case, usually only the creator of the resulting picture (recording, etc.) holds a copyright. For instance, when taking a photograph of a group of people in a museum, the photo may also show some painting on the walls. In that case the copyright of those painting does not have to be taken into account. The distinction however is not very clear.
Note that the License for all aspects has to be determined and mentioned explicitly.

Does that last sentence mean the uploader must attend to all parts of the image and specify what copyrighted elements are within? For example, "this image contains copyrighted paintings X and Y and this license does not extend to derivatives that isolate them"?

I had thought (probably wrongly I now suspect) that a Commons image was truly freely modifiable (in the copyright and licensing senses only) as long as the license conditions are observed.

So, have I understood this correctly?

If I take Image:HK Worldwide House The Beverly Hills Central Tram Stop 1.JPG (a photo of a tramstop containing copyrighted hoardings), read the CCSA license (In short: you are free to distribute and modify the file as long as you attribute its author(s) or licensor(s)), and make a crop of one hoarding, then the resulting cropped image becomes copyrighted by the hoarding's artist, and certainly not by me? And I would need the artist's permission to use it. And that Commons should not accept it. That seems to be what the Copyright law insists on.

Maybe my questions boil down to: should the original license indicate that there are copyrightable elements inside; and/or should Commons' Upload text add a warning that not all derivatives of free images are accepted? -Wikibob 21:52, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

This section was added by me, and I see now it was a fault, sorry for that. I hide it until this objections are checked. I think you are right, we should reshape it so that thats clear. (and probably obtain more opinions..)--Luxo 20:30, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Michael Maggs has clarified my query Commons talk:Licensing#Images with copyrighted artwork in background?. Images containing copyrighted background are in a questionable (and possibly problematic) state where as a whole they *may* not infringe copyright (only a court can decide), but that a crop could most definitely infringe copyright. The uploader is responsible (as always), but it seems Commons should not offer any guarantees. -Wikibob 10:35, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, currently this page gives no advice how to upload allowed DWs. I had just written a next about that - just to find the already existing but hidden text in edit mode. In addition we should mention the nice {{Retouched picture}} template. The problem was just to add a warning about cropping works which include other works in a de minimis way? --Saibo (Δ) 16:22, 4 July 2012 (UTC) Have merged both section drafts (old and new) - still commented out. --Saibo (Δ) 17:28, 4 July 2012 (UTC) This is my current suggestion. --Saibo (Δ) 21:01, 4 July 2012 (UTC)


Maps should also be included in the list of works. User-created maps are derivatives, but since political boundaries and geographic features constitute information, such works cannot be copyrighted. The style is copyrighted though. This is a FAQ. Nichalp (talk) 08:00, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Geodata are copyrightable, not just the style. --Fb78 (talk) 12:52, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
How is geodata copyrightable? Nichalp (talk) 15:09, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Maps should be treated the same way as text. Maps as a representation of reality (roads, railways, etc) and will look similar even if drawn independantly. You are allowed to use copyrigthed maps as a source and starting point, but everything has to be extensively redrawn and be your own work and style. (Symbols, characters, legenda, etc) Just copying a map as a background and adding a few lines is not sufficient. Just the same way as an article can be rewriten in your own words. I think Geodata is only copyrigthable as a complete dataset, the same way a telefon directory can be protected not an individual telefon adres.

An easy way to draw maps is to take a google earth snapshot of the area, draw the roads and other wanted features and information. When this is done remove all GE background. It is not recognizable as a GE picture and is an original map in your own style. It takes some time and effort off course. Smiley.toerist (talk) 10:28, 16 January 2010 (UTC)


Hello. I recorded a clip of a band, performing a song (may be copyrighted song), with a non professional camera and it was allowed by the band. Can it be licensed under a free licnse or not? Just to find a solution: Commons:Deletion_requests/Image:Arena_at_BalticProgFest.ogg Andrius Vanagas (talk) 08:01, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Just because it was not forbidden to record the song, it does not mean that it is allowed to release the bootleg under a free licence. At most concert locations it is not forbidden to use a non-professional camera simply for the reason that it is nearly impossible to control it (too much people in a crowd and too many mobile phones). Even if you obtain the permission to work with a professional camera at a concert, it still is not allowed to use videos. Accredidations only apply for photos. For videos, sound, ... (all things where you record copyrighted material) you need a special permission by the band in form of a contract, where they tell you what you are allowed to do and how you are allowed to use the material. Unless you don't have this kind of contract, you can't release it under a free licence. -- Cecil (talk) 04:16, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

How do you upload comic characters?Edit

How do you upload comic characters? I can't find the form on the upload page. --Mr. Mario (talk) 03:11, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Read Derivative Work. -- Cecil (talk) 04:10, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I did. I still don't know how to upload it. --Mr. Mario (talk) 15:57, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Depends on which comic you think of. Your own work (something like BD-propagande colour en.jpg) can be uploaded under every free licence you like. Fan art is not allowed even it's your own work. Of course it's not allowed to upload (for example) a scaned Simpsoncomic.
--D-Kuru (talk) 16:23, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Category:Going Merry (replica)Edit

I have been told that the boat Going Merry (en:Going Merry#Usopp) is a 3D model of a boat depicted in the One Piece manga series. Some images I found on the internet confirm this, pointing to some similarity between the real boat and the 2D one. Is this the same situation as, e.g., the cartoon-inspired dolls and toys, etc? Or is it too general a design (after all, it's a boat) to be considered a derivative work? Patrícia msg 15:36, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't think that the boat as such can be copyrighted. The logo on the sail and lamb head are copyrighted, but it shouldn't be a problem per Commons:De minimis. Maybe 20030712 12 July 2003 One Piece The Going Merry zoom Odaiba Tokyo Japan.jpg is a problem, because of the relatively big logo and the just copied design which filles most part of the picture.
--D-Kuru (talk) 12:04, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Modern StatuesEdit

As I was about to upload a photo I have taken I noted that as derivative works they are not permitted (IE: Photographs of art, statues, commercial packaging and often toys), unless the statue itself is similarto the example of the Venus de Milo statue given on the article page, or (presumably) in the background of a photo and not the main image topic!

Does this include images uploaded by bots from EN:Wiki, for example this one:- File:Bremner statue.jpg, located with other similar statues in sub-category Category:Statues of association football players.

Above there is mention of the template {{Derivative}} by Samulili back in June 2006, for inclusion on uploaded images that are not usable. At what age does a statue have to be to fall within the licence of {{PD-old}}, and thus allowable for uploading? Richard Harvey (talk) 15:08, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Regarding requests for permissionEdit

This page and the accompanying diagram intimate that if one has authorization from the copyright holder of the subject being photographed, one may take a picture of the work and upload it. However, I'm not aware that this has ever been done, nor have I ever heard of a sculpture of other three-dimensional work of art being placed under e.g. a Creative Commons license. How does this process work? Do you only need to request authorization for just a particular photo, or do you need the object itself to be under a general free license? Could Commons provide guidance about how to go about this? I presume OTRS gets involved. Dcoetzee (talk) 05:55, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Historical marker or plaque?Edit

I see a lot of images on the commons where people have photographed historical markers or plaques, or signs. Examples include:

Orange CT historic marker.jpg
Peter Herdic Historic Marker.JPG
Nathan Clifford Historic Marker.JPG
Auburn Auto Historic Marker.jpg
Two Hearted River Historic Marker.JPG

My understanding was that these signs and markers were original art work and were copyrighted, even though they are displayed in public places, and that photographs were derivative works. In each case noted above, the uploader claimed it to be original work, and in most cases released the photo into the public domain. I'm thinking they don't have that right because they don't own the copyright, and that such images should be deleted.

Are these public markers and signs copyrighted? Does it make a difference if the site is part of the federal government?

I live in Boston and could photograph a ton of such signs, but because of the risk of copyright violation I haven't. Could you clear this up for me? Thanks! Pmcyclist (talk) 18:57, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Photo of Painting I ownEdit

Can I publish a photograph under free license of a painting that I own but was created by another who died in 1997? If so, which category would I tag it so it is not deleted? WilliamKF (talk) 00:03, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

No. Such a photograph would be a derivative work that would violate the copyright held by that person's heirs until 2067. (Alternatively, it may be considered a mere copy of the original work - in either case you do not possess sole rights.) Physical ownership of the work confers no rights unless those rights were explicitly transferred by the sales contract. Dcoetzee (talk) 02:50, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Who owns the copyrights of photographs of sheet musicEdit

What is the status of sheet music ?


  • a wiki editor photographs a few measures of a published composition;
  • wiki editor/photographer files photograph in Wiki Commons as "own work" with name of composer & opus number of composition, but not the name of the publisher of the sheet music;
  • wiki editor/photographer publishes this photograph in wiki article as "own work";
    • giving name of composer & of composition;
    • with no mention of publisher, country, year, etc.


  • photograph of first measures of a Chopin's mazurka properly attributed to Chopin & given proper opus number;


  • wiki editor/photographer attributes to himself the creation & ownership of the photograph with no mention whatsoever of name of publisher, year of publication etc.

Mazurkas Op. 17 (Chopin)

Mazurkas Op. 59 (Chopin)


Who owns the copyrights of such photographs?

This question does not concern the rights of the composer (Chopin), but those of the publisher of his work, whose name is not even mentioned.

Frania Wisniewska (talk) 19:22, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

"Produced in large numbers"Edit

Does that make any difference? I ask the question because of the decision to keep in Commons:Deletion requests/File:Crèche provençale.jpg. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 15:00, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't see how it would (and I don't understand the ratio decidendi in that discussion). Copyright would be rather pointless if producing "too many copies" of a work implied forfeiting one's rights. Action figures are mass produced, and we currently use that as our cardinal example. Andy Warhol's works are also produced in large numbers (for some definition of large numbers). Perhaps the apparent confusion lies in failure to understand the relationship between utilitarian objects and mass-produced objects. Utilitarian objects are often mass-produced, but that doesn't mean that all mass-produced objects are utilitarian in nature. I suppose one could have a theological argument over the utility of idolatry, though ;-) LX (talk, contribs) 15:48, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Photos of arrangements of albumsEdit

I have a question about a specific example that I don't see addressed anywhere. I'm working on a discography article over at en.wikipedia, and I'd like to illustrate it with an image in the infobox. Typically discography articles on are illustrated with a freely-licensed photo of the artist, but in this case I can find no such image (and a new one cannot be created, as the group broke up in 2005). However, it occurs to me that an even more appropriate image for a disography article would be a photo of a collection of their physical releases, as the subject of a discography article is the releases rather than the artist. With that in mind, I have arranged and taken a photo of my own collection of this artist's releases. Having experience dealing with album images at, it occurs to me that the picture I've taken is likely a derivative work, and thus I should probably double-check before I do anything with it. In scanning this page I don't see any mention of photos containing album art as being derivative works, though common sense tells me it probably falls under the general umbrella of "works of art". I figure I can't be the first person to have thought of using a photo like this, so I'm surprised that I can't find any specific guidance on the subject either here or at So basically I have 2 questions:

  1. Is the photo I've taken considered a derivative work? If so, obviously it's inappropriate for Commons, but I'll have to ask at if it can still be used there.
  2. If so, should text be added to this guideline page explaining the "derivative work" status of photos containing album art? I might, for example, wish to illustrate the Record shop article by taking a photo of the interior of such a shop, but that photo will undoubtedly contain many examples of copyrighted album art (just as a photo of a crowd will undoubtely contain many examples of copyrighted clothing designs and logos). We have specific explanations in this guidelines for things like action figures, but not for albums.

As a side question, what about these images? Both are freely licensed from Flickr, but both seem to be more or less derivative works. The latter one, in particular, fits the "kid holding a Winnie the Pooh doll" example given in these guidelines. Would it be inappropriate to use that image somewhere in the Misfits (band) article? Sorry for the long series of questions; I'm used to dealing with cases that are pretty cut & dry, and these have me a bit befuddled. --IllaZilla (talk) 05:37, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Maps 2Edit

The paragraph regarding maps has been removed. This removal should be done after a discussion on the issues.Afil (talk) 17:19, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

The claim that maps could be traced is not reasonable. It did not have a source. There is not much to discuss. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 17:37, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
The problem is not if anybody considers the statement reasonable or not. The issue has been settled by United States courts beyond any doubt. The paragraph has been rewritten indicating the legal basis of the statements. It you are aware of the jurisprudence of any other country, please add the information for that country. Afil (talk) 01:06, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
You have now introduced in these edits an enormous amount of text that is not specific for maps. And you cite Karjala in a way that infringes on his copyright. I will remove the paragraph again. The purpose of this page is to tell people what is not allowed - but the section is written to suggest that one can get away with almost copying of maps. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 10:13, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
The paragraph simply states what the United States legislation and jurisprudence states on the matter. The purpose of the page is to indicate what is allowed and what is not allowed by the law. And the law is the law, regardless if you like it or not or if you agree with it or not. Removing the paragraph simply ignores the issue.
If have anything more about the matter than an uninformed oppinion, please provide the additional legal information. For instance, you could indicate what the Dutch legislation incates about the legal protection of maps and particularly what verdicts Dutch courts have issued on the matter. That would be much more helpful tnan vandalizing the article by simply deleting the paragraph.

!Afil (talk) 01:34, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Film posterEdit

Good case related to derivative works: Commons:Deletion requests/File:Ashanddiamond.jpg --Snek01 (talk) 13:27, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Goody's sipn pin...Edit

Would a picture I took of the goody's spin pin be my own work. It's a hair accsessory. LadySydney (talk) 18:26, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Limits of derivative worksEdit

Hi there, a couple of questions:

  1. ) what's the actual difference between a new version of a file already uploaded to Wikimedia Commons earlier, and a derivative work? As far as I can see, a Commons file's identity is firstly defined by its file name + file name extension, i.e. as long as I upload a new file with the name of an already existing older file, the uploaded file will be considered as a new version of the older file, and not as a derivative (or completely new) work, regardless of the actual contents of the new file. One consequence of that is that the new file will overwrite the old one in all articles where the old one occured...
  2. ) on the other hand, if I upload the contents of an already existing Commons file with a new file name an/or new file name extension (e.g. SVG instead of PNG), even without any further changes, it will be considered as a derivative work, entitling me to appear as its initial author?
  3. ) from which point on I will _have_ to upload a modification of an earlier Commons file as a new work, i.e. with a new filename, instead of uploading it as a new version? Change of colors, resolution, point of view...
  4. ) are there any limitations that I have to obey when creating a derivative work of a Wikimedia Commons file, within the Wikimedia project, or in the world outside? May I deform, or even scar (intentionally or not) the original work, and still say that my work has been based on that work, eventually with some harm for the reputation of the initial author as e.g. in the case of a bad translation? Or saying it more clearly: are there any rules that prevent a Commons file from conscious or unconscious crippling? E.g. by converting graphics from one format to another, which the initial author intentionally avoided etc. Or can the initial author then say: No thanks, in that case I prefer not to be furtherly mentioned?

With regards --Qniemiec (talk) 03:34, 12 February 2011 (UTC)


I see that in another section of this page, the photographs of people in costumes in Disney Parks are not allowed, but Category:Mascots is full, and I am seeking the deletion of File:Sentai-goranger-1975.jpg because it should have never been released to the public domain. However, SchuminWeb claims that these costumes are "useful items" and that the ensembles are too simplistic in design to be copyrighted, even though the design is owned in some form by the Toei Company, TV Asahi, Bandai, and the estate of Shotaro Ishinomori. What is the proper course of action here?—Ryūlóng (竜龍) 00:07, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

And if that is allowed, would the following photos be suitable for Flickr to Commons transers?

Ryūlóng (竜龍) 01:07, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Derivative works of muppet charactersEdit

How come when I posted this image (or one from the same State Dept. visit) with Jill Biden and Kami, it was deleted as a "derivative work" when the photograph is in the public domain. Yet on the main page today I see an image of Big and Small, licensed under a CC license and it's acceptable? How is a public domain image of a muppet not acceptable, but a CC image of basically the same type of character is? See my talk page

If it's because there are other people in the photo with Kami, could we not crop them out to show the muppet Kami only ? Something doesn't make sense, a totally free image of a muppet isn't allowed, a less free CC image of a muppet is allowed? Oaktree b (talk) 01:43, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

The difference is that, as the file description of File:Big&Small.jpg explains, Kindle Entertainment, the copyright holder of Big & Small, have approved the licensing of that photo. It has nothing to do with the presence of other people in the photo. It's strictly a matter of whether or not all copyright holders have approved the license. LX (talk, contribs) 15:45, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Copyright tags for derivative works. Do we need something different?Edit

Am I correct that the recommended procedure for indicating the licensing of a derivative work is to place tags for both the derivative and for the original work with the file? The actual text that emerges from this "concatenation" procedure seems clumsy. Thus the PD-US tag doesn't indicate whether an image itself is public domain in the US, or rather that the image is a derivative work of something like a sculpture that is PD-US.

Why is this important? There are many photographs of artworks in Commons where the photographer has not indicated the license for the original artwork. One example: File:FDR memorial.jpg. I'd say that it needs to be easier during the uploading process to indicate that a work is derivative and that it is either licensed or in the public domain. Easchiff (talk) 12:05, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

I agree that we currently seem to lack a good way of fully expressing this situation. We have the little known {{PD-art-70-3d}} and the freedom of panorama templates for explaining why the depiction of the underlying work is permitted in some specific cases, but we don't seem to have a generic multilingual wrapper template similar to {{Self}} for other types of cases. LX (talk, contribs) 16:00, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
In my and the opinion of others the Information template should be reworked to include nearly everything which is on the file page. Also it should make the "source" field more clear (for photos: separate between the photo source and the work shown) - and - yes, maybe also provide way of expressing why a depicted work is allowed to be depicted. See User_talk:Saibo/Archive/2011#Template:Information. Cheers --Saibo (Δ) 17:51, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarifications. I agree that the Information template is pretty ambiguous. I hadn't discovered {{PD-art-70-3d}}, which is much better than using {{PD-US}}; thanks for that tip. I'll take a look into what could be done to get the upload process to clarify whether there's an artwork involved. Easchiff (talk) 19:44, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Anyone figure out a good way to handle this? If so, I want to replicate it; see Template_talk:PD-useful-object.--Elvey (talk) 21:07, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
{{Art Photo}} seems to be a good way to handle this. I used it here. --Elvey (talk) 14:14, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't get that template. Isn't the photograph template it includes duplicating the same things in the artwork template it includes? Rd232 (talk) 19:22, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
How so? What's duplicative? The photograph (of the art) and the art (that's been photographed) are different things. For example: the photographer and the artist are probably different people. --Elvey (talk) 23:31, 21 May 2013 (UTC)


I think this page can be improved, in terms of structure and in terms of particular aspects linking with other pages (eg "Replicas of artworks" should link to Commons:When to use the PD-scan tag / Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag). Also there may be relevant DRs that can provide material to include, or at least link to, eg Commons:Deletion requests/Derivative works of Sesame Street puppets. Rd232 (talk) 21:50, 25 November 2011 (UTC)


There is a Category:Copydesign containing files tagged by Template:Copydesign. They generally seem to be industrial designs that this page seems to suggest are OK. Perhaps it be worth mentioning this template and suggest when it should be used? Ghouston (talk) 10:04, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

File:Derivative Works Decision Tree.svgEdit

I thought additional notice was appropriate, in addition to all the notices that the AjaxQiuckDelete script did do on my behalf, so here's another:

File:Derivative Works Decision Tree.svg has been listed at Commons:Deletion requests so that the community can discuss whether it should be kept or not. We would appreciate it if you could go to voice your opinion about this at its entry.

If you created this file, please note that the fact that it has been proposed for deletion does not necessarily mean that we do not value your kind contribution. It simply means that one person believes that there is some specific problem with it, such as a copyright issue.

Please remember to respond to and – if appropriate – contradict the arguments supporting deletion. Arguments which focus on the nominator will not affect the result of the nomination. Thank you!

Elvey (talk) 12:37, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Possible problemsEdit

Commons:Deletion requests/File:Karta1.PNG and Commons:Deletion requests/File:Karta2.PNG. In the United States, many maps are in the public domain. The most common cases are:...As a result of the court decisions, following parts of a map are in the public domain, and may be used freely: ...Geographic or topographic features. Those are facts, and facts aren't copyrightable. But Only those elements that involve no creativity are public domain. In Mason v Montgomery Data et al 1992, the court found that there was creativity involved in " each mapmaker's selection of sources, interpretation of those sources, discretion in reconciling inconsistencies among the sources, and skill and judgment in depicting the information." The ruling in that case describes a similar circumstance to this map: "But the evidence in this case demonstrates that Mason exercised sufficient creativity when he created his maps. In his deposition and affidavit, Mason explained the choices that he independently made to select information from numerous and sometimes conflicting sources, and to depict that information on his maps.10 Mason's compilation of the information on his maps involved creativity that far exceeds the required minimum level." In other words, if the map is just an outline of the state of Texas and some dots for cities, it's ineligible for protection. But if the author puts skill into selecting elements to include on the map, then it's copyrighted. --UserB (talk) 13:11, 15 March 2013 (UTC) Strannik27 (talk) 12:01, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

What about Toy Cars? Many are shown on Wikipedia CommonsEdit

Pictures of toy and model cars are plentiful in the commons. It seems pictures of the models themselves are acceptable if there is not direct copyright infringement blatantly showing logos. The same seems true for real automobiles where pictures of the object are plentiful. This does not seem to be in the same legal realm as action or comic figures which are copyrighted.--Cstevencampbell (talk) 03:34, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

This is not correct. All models have a copyright in the USA. This includes:

  • models of things that do not have a copyright -- e.g. automobiles or living creatures, including humans,
  • models of objects that once had a copyright but are now PD -- e.g. the Venus de Milo,
  • models of copyrighted works -- in which case there are two copyrights, that of the original and that of the model.

The same is true in many other countries.

Many of our images of models are of works that are PD because they were made in the USA and there was no notice or no renewal. Some are PD because they are old. Many others should be deleted. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 12:32, 10 September 2013 (UTC)


How does COM:UA not apply in the case of virtual interfaces?   — C M B J   12:28, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

I'm guessing that when you use the term "virtual interfaces," you mean something other than en:Virtual Interface, so could you please clarify your question? LX (talk, contribs) 18:09, 29 May 2013 (UTC)


The statement

"Replicas of artworks: Exact replicas of public domain works, like tourist souvenirs of the Venus de Milo, cannot attract any new copyright as exact replicas do not have the required originality. Hence, photographs of such items can be treated just like photographs of the artwork itself."

is contrary to the law in most countries, including the United States. Models clearly have a copyright of their own. They are specifically mentioned in US law at 17 U.S.C. § 101 and on the Visual Arts (VA) registration form. The issue is discussed at length at User:Elcobbola/Models) .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 12:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Level of originality: utilitarian objectsEdit

"As in most jurisdictions, the level of originality required for copyright protection of works of applied art is higher." What is the source for this statement? As far as I have read (e.g. here; a court case from Slovenia), the demanded level of originality is actually lower, because the possibility of creativity is more limited with such works. --Eleassar (t/p) 20:20, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

It is plagarised from translegal. Эlcobbola talk 21:08, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
I've rewritten it with respect to reliable sources discussing the matter.[3] --Eleassar (t/p) 08:51, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Advertisements in public spacesEdit

What is the situation here, they are adverts designed for public consumption in a public space. I wanted to use one of the following images to illustrate marketing on Batman: Arkham city:

Darkwarriorblake (talk) 11:24, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

Fictional Maps ?Edit

Perhaps this has already been asked; but what about creating maps de novo based on fictional works? Eg re-creating a map of Tolkien's "middle -earth". Would that be considered 'derivative' work of a copyrighted creation ?Slovenski Volk (talk) 21:44, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

Derivative worksEdit

Why this official guideline is not mentioning any thing about the requirements that must be satisfied in a derivative work? All CC licenses have some requirements. See this discussion too. Jee 15:45, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Scale models are probably subject to copyrightEdit

According to this US court case, scale models are subject to copyright: "First, the District Court held that plaintiff's plastic scale model airplanes were proper subject matter for copyright protection." The scale models themselves were eligible for copyright protection (even thought the planes likely were not). This probably means that photos of scale models not in the public domain (regardless of whether the object modeled is protected by copyright) would need a Commons-acceptable license from the model builder before being posted here. We already have a section on toys. I suggest this be expanded to include scale models, since these do not always fall into the category of toys. For some examples here at Commons, see File:Scale model of L'Opera Garnier.jpg, File:OperaCoupe 20070324.jpg, File:Château du Louvre 1, Paris 25 April 2012.jpg, and File:CastleLouvreModel.jpg. --Robert.Allen (talk) 19:48, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

This page (Derivative Works) merely contains a summary of the more thorough casebook, which includes (scale) models. See Commons:Image_casebook#Models and User:Elcobbola/Models. Эlcobbola talk 19:57, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the information. This seems to confirm what I felt must be the case. Is there a link to that here? I did not see one and looked quite a while for something relevant to this issue. In any case, couldn't this also be mentioned here? --Robert.Allen (talk) 20:18, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
The Casebook is indeed linked from this page (see the grey bar at the top of this section). As this particular page is about derivative works as a broad copyright concept, linking directly to the very specific issue of models is probably not appropriate. That said, the current casebook summary is a indeed a poorly-written and arbitrary hodgepodge of examples (cave paintings - really?); something like "Sculptural works: models, dolls, figurines, carvings, ceramics, maquettes, molds, relief sculptures, etc." (and similar for other categories of works) would certainly be a more useful bullet point than what is currently there. Эlcobbola talk 20:31, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
I admit I did not read the whole page. I was scanning for something that might be relevant to scale models and zeroed in on the toys section, so I missed the link to the Casebook. Not sure I have enough understanding of these issues to make any changes, so I hope you will. In any case, thank you for the help! --Robert.Allen (talk) 08:32, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

File:Ebenezer James Macrae.jpgEdit

Please could someone with more expertise look at File:Ebenezer James Macrae.jpg, which appears to be a derivative work but is being claimed as "own work". See my comment to the uploader and his response. Grateful if someone could clarify how this works. Many thanks, Jonathan Oldenbuck (talk) 09:22, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Design patents on computer imagesEdit

This statement is not quite true “Patents are public knowledge, so publishing a depiction of a patented object on Commons cannot in itself constitute patent infringement.” You can get design patents on computer images, such as icons. So displaying a patented computer image would constitute infrigement. On the other hand, I don't think we should worry about design patent infringement. I'd like to suggest that the sentence simply be taken out.--Nowa (talk) 14:15, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Buddha images?Edit

A question: I wonder if statues of Buddha in the Tibetan tradition can be copyright? These images often strictly follow texts or examples going back a millennium which lay out every proportion and detail of the image down to the tiniest detail. The more precisely a Buddha image follows these prescriptions the better it is considered to be. Though it takes a skilled craftsman to precisely execute there is no originality or creativity involved in the design at all. Does this make such images replicas or derivative works? If so can they be copyright?

Toys - definition or flowchart neededEdit

I'm currently addressing this deletion request

In this discussion, the key issue is the absence of clear definition of toys in the guidelines. The advocates seems to be taking an intuitive judgement of applicability. In contrast, the guidelines and its sources rely on a non-intuitive, legal definition that includes doll clothes but excludes "useful" toys like toy stuntplane launchers. There's little sense from either what warrants consideration as a toy. Consider items like frisbees, puppets, architectural models, drones and many others which may or may not be toys depending on a definition. It would be very helpful to have clearer definition or a flowchart to establish what is and is not a toy for the purpose of these guidelines, especially one dealing with the usefulness exclusion. Kaffiend (talk) 07:06, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

See User:Elcobbola/Models for a discussion about some kinds of toys. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:20, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
This is not as complicated as you seem to think. I think that the toy stuntplane launcher decision is an aberration (and, by the way, as a general rule, when you mention a court case on Commons in support of an argument, you should give us a cite). Frisbees and puppets are toys, architectural models are models, also copyrightable as sculpture, drones may be copyrightable if the have no useful purpose -- but if they carry a camera or weapon, then they are utilitarian. Note, too, that even utilitarian objects can have a copyright if their shape or paint job meets the ToO.
Also, you will certainly find it helpful in considering any specific case to simply see if the work is registered at the USCO. Almost all mass produced works will have a registration if they are eligible. Such a look would have saved a lot of time in the Aibo DR. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 22:35, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
You should also note that the utilitarian aspect only is relevant in certain countries. It is of no relevance in some countries such as Sweden and France, which leads to cases like this (photos of two different chair models violated the copyright of the chairs) or this (one torch model violated the copyright of another torch model). --Stefan4 (talk) 23:29, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
Guys, I think this discussion is symptomatic of the problem with the guidelines and their implementation. Instead of discussing what the guidelines are and how to properly implement them, we have a claim that what is in the guidelines is wrong (they're based on an aberration, or additional cases are relevant). In the AIBO proposal, we also have discussions that seem to be ignoring what the guidelines say and instead we have a discussion at the level of "it's a toy! Delete it!'. Jameslwoodward: I was actually referring to the guidelines themselves and the source cited in the guidelines, not to a legal case. Yo might be right about the USCO, but the current AIBO proposal is based on the TOYS section, not on that. Maybe there should be another discussion on that basis. Kaffiend (talk) 10:28, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

Derivative works of machine, map, etcEdit

If I make image of this, would be the violation of copyright? I hope File:M1 Abrams-TUSK.svg is a derivative work too. Please, someone clarify this. I could not get the idea from the project page. Also, I would like to know that is it ok to do derivative work on geographical maps outside of USA. CC: @Jkadavoor: --AntonTalk 09:05, 26 January 2015 (UTC) says "Copyright © 2002. Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. All rights reserved."; so they are not free to host here or to make derivative works. File:OCPA-2005-03-09-165522.jpg is PD (as a work of the U.S. federal government); so free enough to make adaptations even without attributing original author. You may read Commons:Adaptation and Collection for a better understanding. Jee 09:28, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Screenshot of commercial softwareEdit

Two of my screenshot images were nominated for deletion here.

This policy page was given as the reason, yet I can not see anything regarding computer software applications or screenshots in the policy.

Can this be clarified? For example, if I remove the identifying icons at the top of the image (so that it just shows a table), does it then follow policy? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 03:36, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

For more background, Wikipedia/wikimedia has an exception for Microsoft that applies here:
See used on w:Microsoft_Windows --Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:05, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Commons:Screenshots explains the issues surrounding this particular kind of derivative work. I've added links between the two pages now.
The template on English Wikipedia is not applicable here on Wikimedia Commons; see Commons:Fair use for an explanation. LX (talk, contribs) 08:50, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for link. If I look at Commons:Screenshots#Microsoft_products, it isn't completely clear in my case. I haven't taken a full screenshot of Microsoft Windows, but rather a smaller screenshot of part of a Microsoft Excel screen.
My question above related to the removal of icons. I believe that if I removed the icons then the screenshot becomes compliant? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 22:55, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I would say that is correct. But as I mentioned in the deletion discussion, if all you're looking to represent is the data, then a wiki table would really be the way to go. LX (talk, contribs) 16:26, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Image of a scale model artist's conception nominated for deletionEdit

Re: Commons:Deletion requests/File:Maquette du chateau du Louvre (est).jpg: I nominated this photo of a scale model of the medieval Louvre, exhibited at the Louvre. My impression is that it's a large scale model, an artist's conception based on archaeological data and some medieval paintings. It may have been created at the time the Medieval Louvre exhibit was created (c. 1982, ie, when I. M. Pei's Grand Louvre was designed), although no definite information regarding the creation of the model has yet been provided by the uploader. We have more questions than answers and would appreciate meaningful input from more knowledgeable editors. Thanks for help! --Robert.Allen (talk) 22:22, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

I am the uploader of the photo with DR. The motif of DR is :
Per COM:UA, this model is likely subject to US copyright.
Perhaps, I dont understand the rule very well. But, if you delete this photo in order to follow this rule, you will have to put Deletion Request for all the photos of models on Commons : models of buildings, vehicles, and so on. Except of course the very old ones or those with an authorization of the author or his heirs (if any). --Tangopaso (talk) 19:12, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Derivative works vs DuplicateEdit

Relevant discussion at Commons talk:Deletion policy#Derivative works vs Duplicate. --AntanO 03:36, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

Artist Richard Prince's non-consensual reproductions - How do that fit into this?Edit

Richard Prince is an artist that photographs other people's photo's. Some of his works have minor and obvious modification, however, many are indistinguishable from the original photo's. A recent (2013?) controversy involved his sales of printed screenshots of instagram for around $100,000. I understand that lack of permission is somehow part of his artistic process. He has been doing this for decades.

I'm not questioning his legitimacy, however, I'm wondering if anyone knowledgeable can comment about his practices in the article, as I believe it's relevant and significant. —Preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 05:18, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

Sounds like an uncool and potentially illegal way of working, but I don't see what relevance it has to this Wikimedia Commons guideline. This is not an article about the topic of derivative works in general; it's a guideline for this project, which helps us determine what we can and cannot host on this site. LX (talk, contribs) 20:29, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Technical, mechanical and scientific drawingsEdit

I don't think I'm able to write such a section, but a policy on this topic would be welcome, or maybe it alraidy exist somewhere? Christian Ferrer (talk) 19:35, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

it is interesting and I would like to contribute. Was reading through the TOT and in Sweden technical drawings are not copyrightable. It would also be interesting to look into details in the US case law. Rybkovich (talk) 06:18, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
What you are saying about Sweden is not correct; technical drawings are not below the threshold of originality as a set. There was a ruling in 1998 which said that some technical drawings were above the threshold of originality, and then there was another ruling in 2004 which said that another technical drawing was below the threshold of originality. The drawings from the 2004 ruling can be seen under COM:TOO#Sweden. I have not seen the drawings from the 1998 ruling. --Stefan2 (talk) 13:37, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Intellectual property of advertising motto reused for new pictureEdit

Hi, I have concerns about the legal validity of a picture I built using the 3 following Wikimedia Commons files :

In the resulting image, a derivative work I uploaded with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license, the slogan and animal used by a big oil company are associated with the Wikipedia logo and I suspect this may violate the intellectual property owned by the oil company, even if the original pictures were, apparenly, taken und uploaded under the Freedom of panorama rule. Please delete in case of doubt. Archibald Tuttle (talk) 19:35, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Inconsistency with the map section at Commons:CasebookEdit

Please see the discussion I started there. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 23:03, 29 January 2017 (UTC)


"PD" is used on the page, including in the infobox diagram, without explanation. Rp2006 (talk) 15:44, 4 February 2017 (UTC)

Spelled it out on this page.    FDMS  4    11:09, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

If it's edible, it's utilitarian?Edit

I was wondering about how this would apply to something that can me eaten. Both File:St Nicholas chocolate.JPG and File:Chocolate Santa Claus.jpg were kept in this DR on the basis that they are food. If the utilitarian quality of something you can eat overrides its ability to be an artistic work, we should note that in the guidelines. - Themightyquill (talk) 12:51, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

  • IMO I don't think so.

"the design of a useful article [...] shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independ­ently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article."

It is a fact that you can eat non-sculpted chocolate, and that the depicted sculpure can exist without being in chocolate. Furthermore no matter of the material used for a sculpture or for a creative artwork. Christian Ferrer (talk) 17:22, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand. You're saying the two files should have been deleted? - Themightyquill (talk) 21:18, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Yes that is my opinion. --Christian Ferrer (talk) 04:27, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Thoughts, Jcb ? - Themightyquill (talk) 05:11, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
I still would keep them, per my closure of that DR. Jcb (talk) 14:18, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
That's fine, Jcb, this wasn't meant as a challenge - but can you explain further and suggest how this page might be updated to take your interpretation into account for the future? Thanks. - Themightyquill (talk) 04:13, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
I have never seen any copyright regulation defining food as a 'work', or e.g. as a 'sculpture'. I don't think we should consider food that way. Jcb (talk) 15:54, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
That's not how copyright works, and a misinterpretation that leads to closures like this, which is the (United States) copyright equivalent of arguing the earth is flat. Copyright subsists in "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." (17 USC § 102) Original means owing its creation to the author (i.e., a mere prohibition on copying); work of authorship means the creation of a human; tangible medium is self evident. Confections can indeed be original (not copied), have human authors (pâtissier/chocolatier), and in a tangible medium (e.g. chocolate). This is supported by case law; for example, it was found that a Nautilus shell-shaped chocolate dessert was eligible for copyright protection (Chocolates a la Carte Inc. v Presidential Confections Inc. [6][7]) Anecdotally, bakeries in the United States routinely refuse custom orders for copyrighted characters (e.g., a request of a child's birthday cake with Darth Vader would be expected to be denied by any bakery with a modicum of legal sophistication). Similarly, Germany also has findings that suggest artful food arrangements could be copyrightable. Remember, even belt buckles (typically utilitarian as clothing) can be eligible for copyright protection (Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc.). In the case of Themightyquill's images, an analysis of conceptual separateness needs to be done--not this blatant ignorance. Эlcobbola talk 16:29, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

It seems to me that the decision to keep these images was based not on a careful analysis of US copyright law, but on the personal view of the closer.

Under US law, we need to consider the concept of "separability”. Normally, useful articles cannot be protected by copyright, but a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work incorporated in a useful article can be protected if it is ‘separable’ from the article. That occurs if the design features are capable of being “identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article” (17 U.S.C. § 101).

“Physical separability” occurs if the feature seeking copyright protection can “be physically separated from the article by ordinary means while leaving the utilitarian aspects of the article completely intact”, for example a sufficiently creative decorative hood ornament on an automobile. (Compendium §924.2(A)). That does not apply here as the Santa Claus design cannot be physically separated from the chocolate of which it is made.

Where a design is not physically separable, the US courts have until very recently upheld copyright where the design met a rather vaguely-defined legal test called "conceptual separability". Although the Santa Claus design did, in my view, meet that test and should have been deleted on that basis, the issue is now moot since in a landmark decision last month the US Supreme Court abolished the "conceptual separability" test entirely. The case is Star Athletica LLC v .Varsity Brands.

In that case, the Supreme Court set out an entirely new test to the effect that a feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection “if, when identified and imagined apart from the useful article, it would qualify as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work either on its own or when fixed in some other tangible medium.”

It would seem clear that in this case the Santa Claus design can easily be "imagined apart from the useful article" (ie the chocolate), as a "work… fixed in some other tangible medium" (eg an identical design made of plastic). On that basis, the images need to be deleted as they illustrate designs which are copyright-protected under US law.

I will re-nominate both of these images for deletion. Our current policy, set out at Commons:Derivative works does not yet reflect this change in the law, and needs to be updated. MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:07, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

Musical instruments are works of artEdit

Just noticed User talk:Clusternote#Copyright status: File:Archtop Guitar MET DP239377.jpg. Seems like COM:UA needs an update or clarification.

"On February 7, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art implemented a new policy known as Open Access, which makes images of artworks it believes to be in the public domain widely and freely available for unrestricted use, and at no cost, in accordance with the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation".

Guitar from 1912 public domain.

Guitar from 1932: nope.

I wouldn't have guessed this. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 03:48, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Painting or embellishment on a musical instrument could be legally separable works of art. But in general, I'd think the Met is just being overly cautious.--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:14, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

Underlying workEdit

"However, if the underlying work is still copyright protected, the original copyright holder must also license the underlying work for reuse."

This is not (entirely) correct. The original copyright holder can also give permission for the derivative work without licensing the entire underlying work. For comparison: we have some movie trailers which are derivative works from full movies. The trailers were published in the US without (proper) copyright notice, so their copyright has expired. The full movie can still be protected.

See also Commons:Village pump/Copyright#COM:SS sanity check. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 22:52, 1 October 2018 (UTC)

Those trailers aren't legally derivatives from full movies. They were published first, so possibly the movies are derivatives of them.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:47, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
"so possibly the movies are derivatives of them"
Mind blown.   - Alexis Jazz ping plz 02:37, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

Copyrighted ColorsEdit

I thought for sure that colors are copyrightable. In fact, I just found the US Supreme Court decision that agrees with me.;; --Mrwoogi010 (talk) 02:50, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

Question has been reposted here. Mrwoogi010 (talk) 02:57, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Nuance: do note the difference between a trademark and copyright. I don't believe the court discussed copyright? Maybe I'm overlooking something. Effeietsanders (talk) 15:09, 31 August 2020 (UTC)

Proposed addition: How to make a derivative work on CommonsEdit

I would suggest to also add a practical guideline on how to correctly create a derivative work. For example, there's a video with close-ups. What if you want to use a screenshot, or extract the close-up? I'm assuming there may well be tools for all this available to capture the license/description information at the right level. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:53, 28 December 2019 (UTC)

Maps sectionEdit

Being bold, I have removed the maps section (ref diff). It incorrectly gave the impression that any standard survey map, and any map showing borders or other relatively simple features was under COM:TOO. This is false, based on a narrow non-legal reading of US copyright law only, and was being used to argue that virtually all maps were public domain.

Separately raised at Commons:Village pump/Copyright/Archive/2020/08#COM:DW#Maps used to argue that most maps are public domain.

Feel free to re-add, but as it is actively misleading, this would need a major rewrite and fact-check before promoting in the official guideline. -- (talk) 12:06, 31 August 2020 (UTC)

Return to the project page "Derivative works".