Copyright and Terms of Use

Please consult our FAQ-Section for further information.

Access to

All content on can be searched and read for free. As a general rule, content can also be downloaded or printed and is available from a location of your choice, including for example your home. However, some collections, such as the postcards collection, as well as a number of individual articles or photographs, are only accessible inside the building of the National Library.

Such limited access collections are marked with "Access only inside the National library" or "Access only BnL".

Access to content through is based the National Library’s mission to "ensure access by the largest possible public to its collections, including from outside its buildings, using the most modern data transmission technologies" ("d'assurer l'accès du plus grand nombre aux collections, y compris par (...) la consultation à distance, en utilisant les technologies les plus modernes de transmission des données", Loi modifiée du 25 juin portant réorganisation des instituts culturels de l'Etat)

Permitted uses

Content which is part of the Public Domain can be used for any purpose, including commercial use, without asking for permission. Public Domain content is marked with this icon:

No Copyright

Content which is not part of the Public Domain, is protected by copyright.

Copyright has several limitations and exceptions. If limitations and exceptions do not cover your desired use, you have to get permission from the author and any other potential rights holder (publisher, translator, illustrator, etc.). For further Information on permitted uses through the limitations and exceptions in copyright law, please see below "Protected Works".

Protected content is marked with this icon:

In Copyright

additionally, if only accessible inside the buildings of the National Library, with "Access only inside the National library" or "Access only BnL".

Citation and attribution

To correctly attribute your sources please use the "quotation mark" icon :


An automatically generated source citation will pop up:


Please note that correct attribution is a prerequisite for many uses based on limitations and exceptions of copyright law!

The Public Domain

Copyright law only gives temporary protection to works. Protection expires 70 years after the death of the author. These 70 years are calculated from the 1st January following the death of the author. Once the work becomes part of the Public Domain it can be freely used, including for commercial purposes. The National Library has adopted a conservative approach for estimating this moment in time. In 2021, all works published before the 31st December 1878 are considered to be in the Public Domain. In 2024, this cut-off date will be the 31st December 1881 and so on. This conservative method ensures that any dataset which is published for Humanities research is certainly free of rights. It could also mean that some works, which are actually in the Public Domain, are not included. If you are aware of such works, please do let us know:

For further information on the National Library's policy on the Public Domain, please have a look at the "Europeana Public Domain Charter". If you have further questions, please ask us:

It is important to remember that there may be other rights and rights holders besides the original author. There may be multiple layers of rights which apply to a single work, such as neighbouring rights, publisher's rights, database rights, etc. Make sure to always consult the law in its entirety!

Protected works

Certain uses of protected works are possible without having to seek the authorization of the author. These uses are defined by the exceptions and limitations to copyright under Luxembourg law.

The applicable law was updated on April 1, 2022 and now incorporates the so-called “CDSM” Directive (Copyright in the Digital Single Market):

The main uses permitted by the legal limitations and exceptions are briefly described below.

Limitations and exceptions are subject to additional terms that are not listed below; including non-commercial use and the obligation to cite the work correctly (see above: Citation and attribution).

Please always read the full text of the law!

  • art. 10.1 - short quotations justified by the critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informative nature of the work in which they are incorporated,
  • art. 10.2 - the reproduction and communication to the public of works exclusively for the illustration of teaching or scientific research,
  • art. 10.2bis - the digital use of the works, for the exclusive purposes of illustration in the context of education,
  • art. 10.6 - caricature and parody,
  • art. 10.11 - the reproduction and communication to the public of works for the benefit of people with disabilities,
  • art. 10.16 - reproductions and extractions of works lawfully accessible for the purposes of text and data mining.

In case of discrepancies between the French and the English texts, the French text shall prevail.

For any use that goes beyond the legal exceptions and limitations, you must obtain permission from the author and/or any other potential rights holder.

Please note that rights clarification itself is not a service offered by the National Library.

Systematic or automated downloads

In order to ensure that is available in the best possible manner for the whole public, automated or systematic downloading is prohibited. The National Library reserves the right to block such downloads.

Structural data

Content available via eluxemburgensia goes beyond simple digital reproductions in image format. Content is put through a semi-automatic analysis process to identify articles, photographs and the position of each word on every page. Additionally, a process called "OCR" (Optical Character Recognition) is run to allow textual searches.

This structural data is in METS/ALTO format. If you wish to use this data, please get in touch: For technical questions (cataloguing, data format, profiles, processes) please contact

Rights clearance

For all works which are not part of the Public Domain, the National Library fully respects copyrights and aims to obtain permission from all authors and rights holders, including publishers and collective management organisations.

It is however problematic to achieve complete rights clearance for all individual works in the context of mass digitisation. For each individual work the author and other rights holders have to be identified as well as the full historical contractual relationships between them. For commercial rights holders it is necessary to reconstruct commercial successions. Once authors are identified, they have to be located and it has to be established whether they are alive or deceased. If they happen to be deceased, and copyrights have not yet expired, their heirs need to be identified and located.

There are several million individual works, including each article, photograph, etc. in the collection of The long duration of exclusive rights conferred by copyright law makes it practically impossible to exhaustively clarify the rights of all works. An additional problem for works published in newspaper is that the full names of authors are rarely, if at all, mentioned.

To allow for mass digitisation and digital access to the works of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, the existing legal framework has evolved through the transposition of the CDSM (Copyright in the Digital Single Market) directive, notably through the addition of an “out-of-commerce” status for works, for the benefit of cultural heritage organisations. 

The National Library is welcoming further enquiries as to its rights clearance policies from authors and rights holders via


  • What is the legislation applicable to copyright?

The law of April 1, 2022 amending, among other things, the amended law of April 18, 2001 on copyright, related rights and databases and transposing Directive 2019/790 (CDSM-Copyright in the digital single market).

Loi du 1er avril 2022

Loi modifiée du 18 avril 2001 sur les droits d'auteur

  • How long does copyright protection last?

Copyright in works lasts for the lifetime of the author and up to 70 years after her/his death. Therefore, it can be difficult to verify this status, as it is sometimes difficult to identify the author and then locate and contact him or her for permission.

  • Are all the documents available on under copyright?

No. The law on copyright gives only temporary protection to works. The protection expires 70 years after the death of the author. These 70 years are calculated from January 1st following the death of the author. Once the work is in the public domain, it can be used freely, without any authorization, including for commercial purposes. These contents are marked with the icon :

No Copyright

  • How do I recognize protected works on

Protected contents are indicated by the icon : 

In Copyright

  • I want to use texts or images from protected works, who should I contact for permission?

The BnL is not the owner of the rights of its collections, so it cannot give you any authorisations. You are responsible for checking whether your intended use is permitted under one of the exceptions to copyright. If no exception is applicable, you must obtain the necessary rights of use.

In Luxembourg, the competent copyright collective management organisation is Luxorr (Luxembourg Organisation for Reproduction Rights, On the basis of the mandates given to it by authors and/or publishers as well as right holders, Luxorr issues authorisations (licences, permissions) on request for the various analogue and/or digital uses you wish to make. 

Contact Luxorr:

  • Does the BnL help me to find the rightful owners of copyright?

For any use beyond the legal exceptions and limitations, the permission of the author as well as of any other potential rights holder must be obtained. Please note that rights clearance itself is not a service offered by the National Library.

The ultimate responsibility lies with the user of a text or image!

  • Is it always necessary to indicate the sources?

Yes, the source must always be indicated correctly, regardless of whether the work is protected or in the public domain, and regardless of whether the author is known. The correct indication of the source is a prerequisite to benefit from many of the uses permitted by the exceptions and limitations of copyright.

To correctly name your sources, please click on the "quotation marks" icon.Icon

An automatically generated source indication is suggested.


  • How can I contact the BnL ?

The BnL can be contacted via our email address:

  • Where do I find more explanations about copyright?

The Ministry of Culture published a detailed guide to copyright in 2021: “Practical guide on copyright, related rights and other rights in the digital cultural heritage sector”.

  • What are copyrights?

Copyrights fall under the category of literary and artistic property, which is one of the categories of intellectual property, alongside industrial property. Copyright consists of moral rights and economic rights.

The right to reproduce and distribute the work is one of the economic rights. The author of the work becomes the owner of the copyright as soon as his work is created, without any registration of it. These rights are transferred to the author's heirs. In addition, it is possible that the author has assigned (in the form of licenses or contracts) all or part of his rights to a third party (e.g. an editor) or a collective management society.

  • What other rights must be respected?

In addition to copyrights, a user must also consider the rights of the person represented on a work, i.e. image rights, and in particular implement data protection regulation, for any living person.

In addition, there are the rights to honour and reputation to take into account.

Furthermore, there may be other rights and rights holders than the original author. There may be several levels of rights that apply to a single work, such as related rights, editor's rights or database rights.

  • What is the protection of orphan works?

In the event that the author of the work cannot be identified after a diligent search, certain uses of the work are permitted under the Loi modifiée du 3 décembre 2015 relative à certaines utilisations autorisées des œuvres orphelines. - Legilux (

  • Is metadata protected by copyright?

No. They contain descriptive information, facts, which are not subject to copyright protection.

  • Are there any penalties for copyright infringement?

Infringement of copyright constitutes the crime of counterfeiting, resulting in a criminal penalty. This infringement is also civilly enforced.