Copyright calculator for EU

Posted on: April 23, 2015 by

For those of you who have taken the IAL’s Diploma in Intellectual Property and Collections (DipIPC) course, you will know that an important module of the course deals with the duration of copyright. This can be an especially challenging issue when it comes to the visual arts, where digitisation can make a work instantaneously available throughout the world. But different jurisdictions will have different terms of protection.

An artistic work, say a painting, may be in the public domain in the EU, but protected by copyright in the US (works by Paul Klee from the 1930s come to mind). Or it may be in the public domain in the US, but protected in the EU (a pre-1923 Picasso for example). Needless to say when you add the many other countries to the mix, the question of copyright duration will often require a complex calculation – and a separate one for each jurisdiction. Just read the fine print for any image used on Wikipedia to get a sense of the rabbit hole involved…

As a possible (though limited) salve to this problem, a group at the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam has put together a neat online copyright calculator, which allows you to determine whether a work is still under copyright, based on country of origin, type of work, status of author, etc. Unfortunately, as this is an EU-funded venture, it only applies to certain (mainly western) European countries. It is nonetheless a helpful tool. The group also provides useful information on digitisation.