Copyright law, case V CSK 22/08

November 16th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Society of Authors and Publishers Polish Book from Kraków (in Polish: Stowarzyszenie Autorów i Wydawców Polska Książka w Krakowie) is one of the Polish collecting societies. The Society sued Euroimpex company which is a distributor of reprographic equipment, mainly photocopiers and scanners. The suit was based on Article 20(1)(ii) of of Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments.

1. The producers and importers of tape recorders, video recorders and other similar apparatus, or blank material for the recording of works with the aid of such apparatus for personal and private use, and also of reprographic apparatus shall be obliged to pay, for the benefit of the creators and performers of the said works and of the producers of phonograms and videograms, fees in an amount not exceeding 3% of the selling price of the said apparatus and material.
ii. The amount of the fees referred to in paragraph 1 shall accrue:
(1) to the creators for 50%,
(2) to the performers for 25%,

The District Court in Kraków ordered Euroimpex to pay the reprographic fee in the amount of 124,678 PLN. Euroimpex filed an appeal in which it argued that the provisions of ARNR are unconstitutional. However, the Appellate Court in Kraków shared the opinion issued by the District Court and ruled that there is a lack of grounds to question the compliance of article 20(1)(ii) and article 105(2) of the ARNR with the constitutional norms.

Article 105
1. The collective administration organization shall be presumed qualified to carry out the administration and protection of rights in the areas of exploitation in which its administration is conducted, and to engage in judicial proceedings associated therewith. This presumption may not be invoked where two or more collective administration organizations claim competence in respect of one and the same work or performance.
2. In the course of its activity the collective administration organization may demand that information be communicated to it and that documents that are essential for the calculation of the amount of remuneration and fees that it claims be delivered to it.

A similar view was also expressed in relation to provisions of the Regulation of the Minister of Culture of 2 June 2003 on designation of categories of devices and media used for recording of productions and payments levied on sales of these devices and carriers carried out by producers and importers, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 105, item 991. Euroimpex filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 19 June 2008, case file V CSK 22/08, ruled that according to the settled case law, any court, in principle, has the same power to assess whether the provisions of regulation that may be applicable in a given case are not inconsistent with the Constitution. Additionally, the SC ruled that the provisions related to the remuneration fees are justified and their introduction was an expression of global trends in intellectual property law that was also made in order to compensate authors and publishers for what they lose by copying or reproduction of works made by third persons for the personal use. These are the civil law claims, which the collecting societies have the right to collect and which they are allowed to claim before the court. As these fees are divided, is no longer a matter to be decided by the Court, but it is the inner matter of organization and artists who are members of this organization.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.