Access to public information, case II SAB/Wa 155/09

March 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 4 February 2010 case file II SAB/Wa 155/09 held that it should be noted that the status of public information is not only afforded to documents directly prepared/edited and technically produced by a public authority, but also to those whose the authority uses to carry out the tasks specified by the law, even when the copyrights belong to another entity. So therefore as documents being the subject of disclosure of public information as defined in the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej) Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, should be deemed the expertises/opinions made for the authority that is required to make the public information available, if such documents are used to perform its task, even if the copyright on these opinions belong to other entities.

The Court held that the overriding principle related to disclosure of public information, is to provide such information. The problem of subsequent use of the documents covered by copyright is not governed by the API, but may be subject to any claims as defined by copyright law and civil law. However, this issue cannot justify the refusal to disclose public information, because the only limits are rules on secrets protected by law. In this case, a natural person requested the expertise prepared for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, in connection with the creation by this body of IT systems. Such documents in the light of the above-mentioned conclusions are deemed as public information, and therefore should be disclosed, if there is no data that are secrecy protected by law.