I'm wondering if a movie of 1955 is completely copyright free and so if I'm allowed to write and add English subtitles, and distribute it (per download or stream).

It's a Dutch movie and I want it to be accessible with English subtitles for everyone to download and see it. To share about Dutch history and culture in The Netherlands.

  • 2
    If you're putting something online, you'll have to contend with the fact that copyright protection is different in different jurisdictions. The material might have passed into the public domain in the Netherlands, but not in the US, or vice versa. If the material is still under copyright protection, there is another option available to you: apply to the owner of the copyright for permission.
    – phoog
    Aug 2, 2016 at 17:15
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    There is also the problem that what you think is a movie from 1955 isn't actually a movie from 1955. If the movie has been edited or modified in 2015 then new copyrights may have been created, so you'd need to make sure you grab an old copy. If that movie is on a DVD with chapter markers etc. it's quite likely that it has been edited.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 4, 2016 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


In The Netherlands, copyright law protects a work, per Article 37(1), for 70 years after the death of The Creator. Belgian law apparently the same, with a complication (Article 39) that performer rights expire 50 years after fixation.

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