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Question
I realise you are not a copyright expert, so I only ask for your opinion, if possible.
I understand that a painting that is public domain in one country might not be so in another country due to differing laws. Would this depend on the country where the painting was created?  
An example is Munch's 'The Scream'. It is being called public domain on Wikipedia, but it states that it is not so in the home country (Norway-EU 'life + 70' rule). How can the painting still appear on Wikipedia, because it was uploaded from the USA (presumably), regardless if EU residents can still access it?
Thank you

Answer
As you state correctly I am no copyright expert and what I write here is my personal opinion, based on some knowledge of copyright.

This is a general problem with the Internet. Art, and also literature and music have different periods of copyright in different countries.
Normally, as long as there is no better solution, the law of the country where the server is, is mostly used to determine if a work of art is copyrighted or not.

Therefore you will find books on Gutenberg Australia that you won't find on Gutenberg.org (US).
Imslp.org, that publishes sheet music, lets you accept a disclaimer about the copyright before you can download the sheet music.
Imslp (with its server in Canada), has fought a legal battle with a large music publisher in Austria (Universal Music) a few years ago. As far as I know it has not been in court, but it has been fought out between lawyers. They could not think of anything better than the disclaimer.

The Internet is accessible from all over the world. As long as there is not one copyright law, which one should be ruling? The law of the original copyright owner? The law of the country where the server is? The law of the person who surfs the Internet? Whatever you choose, control is near to impossible.
If you block sites for visitors from certain countries, for instance by blocking ip addresses, that blockade can be very easily passed by using a Tor proxy (www.torproject.org).

So we have to live in the Internet era with different copyright laws that cannot be maintained on the net.

However, in my personal opinion, apart from all the above, copyright laws are very generous towards the creator of works of art. 50 or 70 years after the death of the artist means in most cases a copyright term of 100 years or more after the work has been created in the earlier life of the artist.
My personal opinion is that copyright does not have to benefit the next generation during 70 years after the creator has died. A smaller period would seem very reasonable to me.
An example: the music by the Beatles (created between 1960 and 1970 with Paul McCartney still alive) will still be under copyright for almost 100 years. I find that a very generous term.
I hope the above helped you in any way.

The imslp case is in my knowledge the most interesting case that has been fought out under lawyers.

Regards,
Rene Hasekamp.

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Rene Hasekamp

Expertise

I can answer questions about European patent law and practice. My experience mainly lies in the Dutch patent practice. I am not familiar with other patent systems than the European and Dutch systems, although I am familiar with general issues regarding patents. Please don`t ask me questions, specific for US patent law or any other non-European patent law.

Experience

I have been a patent examiner in the Netherlands Patent Office for 35 years. Now I am retired. I have been a deputy judge for patent cases in The Hague's District Court from January 1991 until June 2011.

Education/Credentials
I graduated in Chemistry and Law at Leiden University. I have worked in the Netherlands Patent Office as an examiner for 35 years until my retirement in 2003. I was appointed as a honorary deputy judge for patent cases in 1991. After my retirement I still work at a few cases on patent law in The Hague District Court.

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