About the Public Domain Calculator
In order to make use works of authorship or other content protected by copyright or related rights on the internet, either the user must obtain permission from the rightsholder(s) or the use must be in accordance with an exception or limitation established in national intellectual property law. However, for content over which the rights have already expired, thereby releasing it into the public domain, the situation should, in theory, be much simpler: the content consumer has the right to make use of such subject matter without permission and with no copyright restrictions.
In practice, however, establishing the date at which a book, photograph, image of a cultural heritage object or other information product has passed into the public domain can often be difficult. This is especially true when attempting to determine the public domain status of content in multiple jurisdictions, as will often be necessary when making content available across Europe. Despite harmonizing attempts by the European Commission, relevant laws may still vary between EU Member States, resulting in a different term of protection from country to country.
The Public Domain Calculators available on this website answer the question of whether a certain work or other subject matter vested with copyright or neighbouring rights (related rights) has fallen into the public domain in a given jurisdiction. In order to determine the public domain status of a given piece of content, the Calculator corresponding to the country in which the status of protection is sought should be used. The ultimate aim of the Public Domain Calculators is to help with the effort of identifying public domain material in order to make it available on and offline across Europe.
The Public Domain Calculators are intended to assist Europeana data providers with this problem through a simple interface between the user and the often complex set of national rules governing the term of protection. The issue is of significance for Europeana, as contributing organisations will be expected to clearly mark the material in their collection as being in the public domain, through the attachment of a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark, whenever possible.
The Public Domain Mark provides support for the policies expressed in Europeana’s policy statement about the public domain: the public domain charter. Which states:
- Europeana, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, belongs to the public and must represent the public interest.
- The Public Domain is the material from which society derives knowledge and fashions new cultural works.
- Having a healthy and thriving Public Domain is essential to the social and economic well-being of society.
- Digitisation of Public Domain content does not create new rights over it: works that are in the Public Domain in analogue form continue to be in the Public Domain once they have been digitised.
The principal work on the Public Domain Calculators has been done by Knowledgeland and the Institute for Information law:
Knowledgeland (Kennisland) believes that the best guarantee for future prosperity and welfare, now and in the future, is to strengthen our knowledge society. KL designs and carries out interventions within various sectors of society that are intended to realise this objective.
KL is an independent think tank. It continuously searches for ways to spark the social innovations needed to improve the knowledge society. KL is active in six fields: education, government, cultural heritage, copyright, creative economy and social media. We strive to innovate these fields, often in collaboration with partners and networks.
Institute of Information Law (IViR)
The Institute for Information Law is one of the largest research centers in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 25 researchers who are active in an entire spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, patents, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, Internet regulation, advertising law, domain names, freedom of expression, privacy, digital consumer issues, commercial speech, et cetera.
The institute’s mission is to further the development of information law into a balanced framework that accommodates the needs and interests of the information society. The Institute engages in cutting-edge research into fundamental and topical aspects of information law, and provides a forum for critical debate about the social, cultural and political aspects of regulating information markets.
The Institute’s international orientation is reflected in its international staff as well as various international co-operations and partnerships. Adding to the international atmosphere of the Institute, visiting scholars from all over the world regularly spend time at the Institute.
The Institute for Information Law is affiliated with the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam.