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There is a Batman & Robin photo which, according to Wiki, is public domain in the USA because it was published in the 1960s without a copyright notice.

I would like to use this image in a song video I am producing for publication online (YouTube, TikTok, etc).

I’d be very grateful if someone could advise me on the likely copyright situation OUTSIDE of the USA.

Details of the image are here: File:Batman and Robin 1966.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

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    Do you mean according to Wikipedia/Wikimedia? Really Wiki is the software (available for anyone to use and customize), and there are other wikis other than Wikipedia out there.
    – Brandin
    Jan 20, 2023 at 13:04

2 Answers 2

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The situation is complicated. The easy cases:

  1. In the United States, it's in the public domain for lack of a copyright notice.
  2. In countries that are parties to neither the Berne Convention nor the TRIPS Agreement, it's in the public domain because those countries don't recognize anyone else's copyrights.
  3. In countries that have adopted the rule of the shorter term, it is in the public domain because the image was never copyrighted in the country of origin.

In the remaining countries, it is likely but not certain that the photo is in the public domain. Article 18 of the Berne Convention provides that:

(1) This Convention shall apply to all works which, at the moment of its coming into force, have not yet fallen into the public domain in the country of origin through the expiry of the term of protection.

(4) The preceding provisions shall also apply in the case of new accessions to the Union...

So in theory, since it was in the public domain in the United States as of March 1, 1989 (the date the United States ratified the Berne Convention), it's in the public domain in all Berne countries. However, not all countries may have implemented Article 18 exactly as written.

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  • Thanks Mark, that's very interesting.
    – Apmphioxus
    Jan 23, 2023 at 18:28
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The photo will be protected in most jurisdictions

The Berne protocol which governs international copyright gives copyright for a minimum of 50 years (most counties use 70 years) after the photographer’s death and does not require registration. Most countries other than the US were signatories at the time so the photo will not be public domain.

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    It's more complicated than that. The United States was not a member of the Berne Convention when the photograph was created, and not all Berne members extend protection to such works. Further, some Berne countries apply the "rule of the shortest term", and since the copyright has expired in the country of origin, it has also expired in those countries.
    – Mark
    Jan 21, 2023 at 4:13

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