I want to use an art image that was published in Australia in 1925 and publish it in the US.

Australian copyright law states that the image is protected for 70 years after the artist's death, who died in 1960. Therefore, the image will not be in the public domain in Australia until after 2030.

US public domain law states that the image is in the public domain in the United States since 2021, as it has been 95 years past the original publication date (1925). Is this a correct interpretation: that I am free to use and publish the image as a Public Domain image in the US, (but not Australia)?


1 Answer 1



Or, at least, not on the basis you claim.

What matters is not the date it was first published in Australia, but the date it was first published in the United States. If it ever was - you might be the first.

First, all photographs taken before 1955 are public domain under Australian copyright law. That’s because, before the US-Australia FTA in 2005, photographs had copyright for 50 years from creation. As part of the FTA, Australia adopted the (then and current) US period of death +70 years. However, this was not retrospective, works that were PD before 2005 - like this photograph since 1976 - remain PD.

But none of that matters for US copyright because the US does not follow the rule of the shorter term.

To determine its status in the US, you need to find out when it (or a book or article containing it) was first legally published in the US, if it was, and apply the law applicable at that time as subsequently modified, including, if it was required to be registered, that it was registered.

  • ...oooor find the heir and get a proper license for a symbolic dollar
    – Trish
    May 10, 2023 at 8:30
  • Thank you for your answer. So taking things a few steps further, (1) if an Australian image from 1925 was never published in the US, then it would be considered public domain in the US (yes / no), (2) if the image was published in the US in 1985, then it would be under US copyright until 1930 (yes / no).
    – Kanguru
    May 11, 2023 at 2:17
  • @Kanguru good questions. You should ask them. There is no charge for asking questions.
    – Dale M
    May 11, 2023 at 9:04

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