Archive for: copyright ownership

Copyright law, case I Ns 700/12

March 27th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

Henryk Goldszmit, better known as Janusz Korczak, has died in the Nazi-Germany maintained concentration camp Treblinka in 1942. The very popular Old doctor was also the author of many children books. The copyrights to his literary legacy are governed by the Polish Book Institute. The exact date of his death is not precisely known, however, it was determined by historians as on 6 August 1942, but for obvious reasons no eyewitness could confirm that during court proceedings that were held after the war. The County Court in Lublin in its order of 30 November 1954 case file Ns 2460/53 considered Korczak’s death on 9 May 1946. Almost 4 years after the date on which it actually happened. Therefore, according to the provisions of the Polish copyright law, Korczak’s works will be available in the public domain as of January 1, 2017.

The Modern Poland Foundation operates the school library project called Wolne Lektury (Free Readings). These e-books are freely available on the Creative Commons licenses. Dissatisfied with the fact that Korczak’s works are not yet available in the public domain, the Foundation decided to submit to the Regional Court Lublin-Zachód the application case file I Ns 700/12 for a declaration of death, seeking to establish a proper date on 6 August 1942. This day is mentioned in a number of publications as the day of deportation of Korczak and his students to the Nazi-German camp in Treblinka.

The Regional Court in Lublin in its judgment of 27 March 2015 case file I Ns 700/12 ruled that Janusz Korczak died in 1942 and not 1946. The Court decided that the most likely date of death was August 7, 1942. The judgment is not final yet.

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

Copyright law, case XIV GC 53/12/9

August 31st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Katowice XIV Wydział Gospodarczy in its judgment of 7 August 2012 case file XIV GC 53/12/9 held that the owner of copyright of images and compositions depicting meat products and various kitchen props is the person who invented and prepared the composition and not the photographer.

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

Copyright law, case C-128/11

July 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 3 July 2012 in Case C-128/11 ruled that Article 4(2) of Directive 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs must be interpreted as meaning that the right of distribution of a copy of a computer program is exhausted if the copyright holder who has authorised, even free of charge, the downloading of that copy from the internet onto a data carrier has also conferred, in return for payment of a fee intended to enable him to obtain a remuneration corresponding to the economic value of the copy of the work of which he is the proprietor, a right to use that copy for an unlimited period.

Articles 4(2) and 5(1) of Directive 2009/24 must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of the resale of a user licence entailing the resale of a copy of a computer program downloaded from the copyright holder’s website, that licence having originally been granted by that rightholder to the first acquirer for an unlimited period in return for payment of a fee intended to enable the rightholder to obtain a remuneration corresponding to the economic value of that copy of his work, the second acquirer of the licence, as well as any subsequent acquirer of it, will be able to rely on the exhaustion of the distribution right under Article 4(2) of that directive, and hence be regarded as lawful acquirers of a copy of a computer program within the meaning of Article 5(1) of that directive and benefit from the right of reproduction provided for in that provision.

Access to public information, case I OSK 2265/11

May 11th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish company requested the Ministry of the Interior and Administration (MIA), and Director of the Centre of Information of MIA, to disclose all legal opinions prepared by the Polish Information Processing Society that concerned IT systems created by the Ministry. The Director provided all the requested documents, however the Ministry only asked the Company to clarify the request in the letter sent on October 2009. The Company filed a complaint for failure to act, claiming administrative inaction in its case. The Ministry also argued that the requested information cannot be disclosed because such expert opinions are copyrighted materials, and as such, are not deemed as public information.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 February 2010 case file II SAB/Wa 155/09 agreed with the Company and ordered the MIA to disclose requested information. The Court ruled that such expertises are public information, so they should be disclosed, unless they contain secret information protected by law. The Minister of MIA filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 August 2010 case file I OSK 757/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. However, the SAC only discussed and held that the VAC did not examine whether there was administrative inaction of the MIA. The Court did not examine the allegation that there was a breach of regulations of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 September 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 174/11 was bound by the interpretation of the SAC, and decided that there was administrative inaction. The Minister of the Interior and Administration, once again filed ​​a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 March 2012 case file I OSK 2265/11 dismissed it. The SAC held that if the Minister found that it had the requested information, while it also concluded that there are obstacles to the disclose because of the circumstances set out in Article 5 of the API, or other provisions of specific laws, it was obliged to initiate ex officio proceedings on the refusal to disclose information. The refusal should be issued as an administrative decision only. The lack of such a decision was deemed as administrative inaction, subject to a complaint. The letter sent by the Minister on October 2009 was clearly not an administrative decision. The SAC reminded that the administrative decision should obligatory contain: the name of public authority, date, identity of the party or parties, the legal basis on which the decision was issued, the conclusion and findings, factual and legal grounds, instruction, whether and how to file an appeal against the decision, the signature with the name, surname and position of the person authorized to issue a given decision. Although the letter was signed and affixed with the seal by the Deputy Director of Administration and Finance Office of the MIA, is was not mentioned that the Director acted under the authority of the Ministry. The letter did not contain a ruling on the request of the Company, but on the contrary – the Director explicitly stated that the request was not recognized in accordance with that Act on access to public information. The Letter had no form of a decision, it did not include the instruction, whether and how to file an appeal against it. The Court decided that this letter was purely information message sent on paper. The Polish legislature did not formulate any legal definition of “access to public information”, or the very concept of public information, both in the Polish act on access to public information or in any other legal act. However, Article 1 of the API ab initio provides that each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the Act and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act. According to legal commentators, a public matter is the activity of both public authorities, economic and professional self-government bodies that exercise tasks of official authority and the management of public property. A specific individual case of a person, especially of a private nature, is not deemed as public matters. The access to administrative files falls Within the catalog of public information. Public information is therefore the content of any document relating to public authority. These range from documents produced by government bodies, as well as those used in the execution of the tasks provided for by law, even if they do not come directly from the authorities. Such opinion was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 30 October 2002 case file II SA 1956/02, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Opole in its judgment of 17 January 2008 case file II SAB/Op 20/07, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgmet of 16 July 2008 case file II SA/Wa 721/08, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgmet of 26 June 2008 case file II SA/Wa 111/08. The criterion for determining the disclosure and availability of the documents under the API is not their authorship, but the opinion that they are used to carry out public duties, and were prepared at the request of public authorities, when at the same time, their content and does not violate the privacy of an individual or trade secrets of business. It is not about the disposal of copyright, but about access to the content of the document that was created on behalf of the public authority to carry out public duties. Such opinion was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 July 2011 case file I OSK 667/11, by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 December 2010 case file I OSK 1774/10, by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2008 case file I OSK 315/08, by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 February 2007 case file I OSK 517/06. Not all opinions or expertise, that were created by a public authority or on behalf of public authorities, are public information. The classification of legal opinion in documents that are available under the API is determined by the purpose for which it was prepared. A legal opinion prepared for the public authority on the merits of initiating future proceedings in a particular civil case does not constitute public information for the purposes of Article 1 of the API. It was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 June 2009 case file I OSK 89/09. An expertise that specifically relate to a given legislative proposal for which the legislative process continues, are deemed as public information. These documents relate to the facts, of such, is the legislative proposal submitted to the competent authority in the legislative procedure. It was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 January 2012 case file I OSK 2130/11. If a disclosure of public information threatens the common or individual interests, there is the possibility to restrict the access to such information by refusing its disclousure by an administrative decision that should be based on the provisions of Article 16 of the API. The expertise prepared by the Polish Information Processing Society for the Ministry, associated with the formation by that authority of systems, and the preparation of examinations for persons applying for a certificate of qualification for the controllers and communication systems, satisfy the conditions of public information, because they concern the implementation of tasks by the public authority. If the the expertise concerned computerization and informatization of the public sphere and involved the expenditure of public funds, therefore it is public information, because it refers to the public affairs, which is the issue of computer software/programs in the implementation of public tasks, and how they are used and implemented, the implementation and impact of these tasks and information on public property, including property of the State Treasury.

There was also a specific issue of the expropriation of copyright for public purpose. Article 1 of the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights provides that the subject of copyright should be any manifestation of creative activity of individual nature, established in any form, irrespective of its value, purpose or form of expression (work). Opinions and expertise made ​​by qualified persons or entities meet the statutory definition. According to Article 4 of the ARNR, the copyright should not apply to legislative acts and their official drafts, official documents, materials, logos and symbols. Expertises commissioned by the Ministry, are official documents within the meaning of the Article 4(2) of the ARNR. They are used as a servant in decision-making process of the executive authority and are not the subject of copyright. The Polish Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court agree that the official documents are materials that come from the office or other state institution or concerned official matters, or was the result of application of the official proceedings. As it was decided by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 26 September 2001 case file IV CKN 458/00, and by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 February 1997 case file I SA/Kr 1062/96. The effectiveness of social control and supervision over the information used on completion of assigned tasks of public authority correspond with such understanding of the relationship between the provisions of Article 1 of the API and Article of the ARNR. Such opinion was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 January 2012 case file I OSK 2130/11. Hence, the definition of an official document, provided in Article 6(2) of the API does not provide a basis for restricting access to public information, defined in the Article 1(1) of the API, including the catalog of examples contained in Article 6(1) of the API.

Copyright law, case C-406/10

May 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 2 May 2012 Case C-406/10 ruled that Article 1(2) of Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs must be interpreted as meaning that neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression of that program and, as such, are not protected by copyright in computer programs for the purposes of that directive.

The CoJ noted that Article 5(3) of Directive 91/250/EEC must be interpreted as meaning that a person who has obtained a copy of a computer program under a licence is entitled, without the authorisation of the owner of the copyright, to observe, study or test the functioning of that program so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the program, in the case where that person carries out acts covered by that licence and acts of loading and running necessary for the use of the computer program, and on condition that that person does not infringe the exclusive rights of the owner of the copyright in that program.

The Court also ruled that Article 2(a) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the reproduction, in a computer program or a user manual for that program, of certain elements described in the user manual for another computer program protected by copyright is capable of constituting an infringement of the copyright in the latter manual if – this being a matter for the national court to ascertain – that reproduction constitutes the expression of the intellectual creation of the author of the user manual for the computer program protected by copyright.

Tax law, case II FSK 1548/10

April 2nd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 March 2012 case file II FSK 1548/10 ruled that an agreement concluded between the advertiser company and the owners of websites is deemed as unnamed contracts, similar to tenancy contracts. The inclusion to the application of a third party code that allows for the inclusion of advertising on the website is in fact a violation of the integrity of the copyrighted work – the website. It is therefore the realm of personal (rather than property) rights of the copyright holders. Although these are inalienable rights, but according to the prior case-law, it is permitted to waive of the exercise of these rights by the creator to third parties, including entrepreneurs as it was decided by the Appellate Court in Warszawa in its judgment of 14 May 2007case file ACa 668/06 published in OSA 2008/12/39. The author or copyright owner can effectively commit to a specific person not to execute of personal rights, or even to allow for its exercise on his or her behalf, because then it comes to the exercise, and not to the renouncement of moral (personal) rights.

Copyright law, case I OSK 678/11

November 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the story described in “Copyright law, case II SAB/Łd 53/10“. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 July 2011 case file I OSK 678/11 ruled that copyrighted works in the form of test questions, if they are used for the state exam, become official documents, and the unused questions, which are the so-called “pool of questions” are deemed as documentary material for the purposes of Article 4(2) of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), 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.

Art. 4. The following shall not be protected by copyright:
(1) normative texts and the drafts thereof,
(2) official documents, documentary material, devices and symbols,
(3) descriptions of patents and other protection titles,
(4) mere news items.

The court emphasized that different types of materials that are in the possession of the public bodies are not public information, because their content (intellectual property content) is not used or was not used in dealing with any of the public cases, and thus such material did not acquire the characteristics of official documents. Therefore, the argument raised in the cassation complaint that a particular set of questions or a single question from the pool of questions, that was not used in the state exam should be disclosed, was completely groundless.

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

Copyright law, case I OSK 1975/10

June 13th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Minister of Infrastructure did not respond to the request of a Polish company for disclosure of public information in the form of directory of multiple choice questions for the initial qualification tests for categories C1, C1 + E, C, C + E of driving license. The company filed a complaint of failure to act. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its order of 25 August 2010 case file II SAB/Wa 150/10 dismissed the complaint. The Company decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 21 December 2010 case file I OSK 1975/10 dismissed it. The Court supported the view, in which an official document was correctly distinguished from an official documentary material. While the official document will be public information, the documentary material will not has such status, because it lacks formality/officiality features (it was not used by the official body in a given case and it was not directed outside that body). The court held that a set of questions would be used to carry out undefined tests, therefore, such questions are undoubtedly abstract in nature and do not constitute an official document. In this case, the company had not requested the disclosure of a particular form of the test – a set of questions used in a particular exam, and the subject of the request was entire collection of materials (a series of questions). In the opinion of the court such materials do not constitute public information under the Article 1(1) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Article 1.1 Each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the Act and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act.
2. The provisions of the Act shall not breach the provisions of other acts defining different principles and the mode of access to the information being public information.

The Court noted that only when these questions are used in a particular case, i.e. they are arranged, and used in a specific set of questions designed to check the level of knowledge of applicants for categories C1, C1 + E, C, C + E, they lose their abstract characteristic and become public information, however, such situation did not occur in this case.

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

Copyright law, case II CSK 527/10

June 6th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 25 May 2011 case file II CSK 527/10 held that a person who made some editorial changes of a scientific work that involved the removal of parts of dubious scientific value is entitled to claim the co-autorship of such a work. See also “Copyright law, case V CK 391/02

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

Copyright law, case IV CSK 274/10

May 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 26 January 2011 case file IV CSK 274/10 held that creation of legal rules that are included in the 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, and that concern copyright agreements, does not exclude the applicability of the provisions of the Civil Code, especially particular chapters of the CC. The conclusion of contracts other than these provided for in the ARNR, mainly the contract of transfer of copyrights (i.e. all economic rights that are primarily attributed to the creator) or the contract for the use of the work (licences), is not excluded if the specificity of copyright is also taken into account. There was also no reason to exclude – in principle – the possibility to establish the lease on copyright, of course, after the conditions set in Article 709 of the CC have been satisfied.

Article 693. § 1. By a contract of tenancy, the landlord shall assume the obligation to give a thing to the tenant for use and the collection of fruits for definite or indefinite time, and the tenant shall assume the obligation to pay to the landlord the rent agreed upon.
§ 2. The rent may be stipulated in money or in performances of another kind. It may also be specified in terms of a fraction of the fruits.

Article 694. The provisions on lease shall apply respectively to tenancy with the observance of the provisions stated below.

Article 695. § 1. The tenancy concluded for a period longer than thirty years shall be deemed, after the lapse of that period, to be concluded for indefinite time.
§ 2. Repealed.

Article 696. The tenant shall exercise his right in accordance with the requirements of proper management and cannot change the designation of the object of tenancy without the consent of the landlord.

Article 697. The tenant shall be obliged to make repairs indispensable for maintaining the object of tenancy in a non-deteriorated condition.

Article 698. § 1. The tenant cannot, without the consent of the landlord, give the object of tenancy to a third party for gratuitous use nor for holding under a subtenancy.
§ 2. In the case of non-observance of the above obligation, the landlord may terminate the contract of tenancy without observing the time limit of the notice.

Article 699. If the time limit of the payment of the rent is not specified in the contract, the rent shall be payable after a time limit customarily accepted, and in the absence of such custom semiannually at the end of every period.

Article 700. If, as a result of circumstances for which the tenant is not liable and which do not pertain to him personally, the usual revenue from the object of tenancy is considerably reduced, the tenant may claim a reduction of the rent for the given economic period.

Article 701. The movable things covered by the statutory right of pledge vested in the landlord shall include the things used in the running of a farm or an enterprise if they are on the area of the object of tenancy.

Article 702. If it is stipulated in the contract that in addition to the rent the tenant shall have the obligation to pay taxes and bear other burdens connected with the ownership or the possession of the object of tenancy as well as to bear the costs of its insurance, the statutory right of pledge vested in the landlord shall also cover his claims to the tenant for the reimbursement of the sum paid by the landlord for the reasons specified above.

Article 703. If the tenant is in delay with the payment of the rent for at least two full periods of payment, and if the rent is payable annually, if he is in delay for more than three months, the landlord may terminate the contract of tenancy without observing the time limit for the notice. However, the landlord shall warn the tenant by setting him an additional time limit of three months for the payment of the rent in arrear.

Article 704. In the absence of a contract to the contrary, the contract of tenancy of agricultural land may be terminated one year in advance at the end of the year of tenancy, and another contract of tenancy, six months in advance before the lapse of the year of tenancy.

Article 705. After the termination of the tenancy, the tenant shall be obliged, in the absence of a contract to the contrary, to return the object of the tenancy in the condition in which it should be in accordance with the provisions on the exercise of tenancy.

Article 706. If, at the termination of the tenancy, the tenant of agricultural land leaves it sown according to his duty, he may claim the reimbursement of the outlays on those crops, where, contrary to the requirements of proper management, he did not receive the appropriate crops at the beginning of the tenancy.

Article 707. If the tenancy ends before the end of the tenancy year, the tenant shall be obliged to pay the rent in such proportion in which the fruits which he collected or could have collected bear to the fruits from the entire year of tenancy.

Article 708. The provisions of the present Section shall apply respectively where the person taking an agricultural immovable property for use and collection of fruits is not obliged to pay the rent but only to pay the taxes and to bear other burdens connected with the ownership or the possession of land.

Article 709. The provisions on the tenancy of things shall apply respectively to the lease of rights.

The lease would have to include at least one field of exploitation (the concept included in the Polish copyright law, where the owner has the right to dispose the use of a copyrighted work on different fields of use) and the associated possibility of obtaining benefits, for example, by allowing the lessee to display the copyrighted work for profits.

The Court ruled also that the exhibition of photographs can be a derivative work as defined in the Article 2(1) of the ARNR.

Art. 2.-1. Derived works made from the work of another, in particular translations, transformations and adaptations, shall be protected by copyright without prejudice to the rights in the original work.
2. The manner of disposal of the derived work and the use thereof shall be subject to the consent of the creator of the original work (dependent copyright), except where the economic rights in the original work have expired.
3. The creator of the original work may withdraw his consent if, in the course of the five years following its grant, the derived work has not been disclosed. Remuneration paid to the creator shall not be susceptible of repayment.
4. A work inspired by another’s work shall not be considered a derived work.
5. The name of the creator of the original work and the title thereof shall be mentioned on the copies of the derived work.

However, as in the case of other works, the final assessment depends on the outcome of the examination that was made in terms of statutory criteria for the work to be protected by copyright, taking into account that, while defining the derivatives, the basic prerequisite of creativity has to be taken into account.

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

Trade mark law, case II GSK 746/09

August 10th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story decribed in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2284/08” that concerned the trade mark HERITAGE FILMS. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 August 2010 case file II GSK 746/09 dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Zygmunt Piotrowski. The SAC held inter alia that the provisions of the TMA or the IPL do not provide in the course of the litigation proceedings lead by the Polish Patent Office, for the possibility to control the legality of the administrative proceedings that concerned the registration of a given trade mark. The legality of a decision granting the right of protection should be challenged in different proceedings.

Heritage

The Court noted that Mr Piotrowski confused the concepts of “invalidation of the registration right” or “invalidation of right of protection for a trade mark” with the annulment of the decision on the granting of the right. There are different grounds for such decisions and other procedures on their issuance, but in case of the breach of the provisions listed in Article 29 of the Trade Marks Act, those conditions may overlap, and only in this case they might be raised in the opposition proceedings. Consequently, the invaliditon of the protection right, although identical in its consequences, cannot be identified with the institution of the annulment of the decision on the granting of the right of protection.

Copyright law, case I CR 312/75

May 22nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 19 September 1975 case file I CR 312/75 held that flower compositions (ikebana) were works of art within the meaning of the old Polish copyright law, and that the defendant by publishing of photographs of these compositions and their distribution infringed on authors’ rights (moral rights) of the creator of these compositions. In addition, the Court noted that the limitations of the rights to distribute works and to remuneration, governed by the old copyright law, in the name of social interest (use), meant that in the cases provided for in the cited provisions it was allowed to distribute copyrighted works, and use these works in principle, without paying remuneration, and thus deprive the holders of their rights.

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

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.

Copyright law, case I CSK 160/09

January 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 16 November 2009 case file I CSK 160/09 confirmed that no consent of the portrayed sportsmen is necessary for the athletics association to make such images available to the sponsors. The judgment came out as a result of a heated dispute between the Polish national football (soccer) team player Maciej Żurawski and TP S.A. (a telecommunication company) – the official sponsor of the team. The dispute regarded the unauthorized dissemination of Żurawski’ s image by TP S.A. in its various advertising and informational materials (such as fliers, posters, press and television). Żurawski desired that TP S.A. ceased to publish and disseminate his images and that it publicly apologized to him. The proceedings were joined by the Polish Football Association (PZPN) as a third party defendant. The bone of contention in this case were the pictures taken during the photo shoot of the national soccer team prior to the world championship in Germany in 2006. The story goes that in 2004, PZPN entered into a sponsorship agreement with TP S.A., pursuant to which PZPN obliged itself to:

1) allow TP S.A. to use the pictures of the national team in all of TP S.A. advertising and informational materials; and
2) to obtain the respective players’ consent to do so.

In 2006 the national football team participated voluntarily in a photo shoot. All players were duly informed as to what purposes the pictures would serve, and how they would be used. However, no formal consent forms were signed. The players did not sign any Representative’s Cards (which explicitly stated the player’s obligation to participate in events such as i.e. the photo session in question) either. Additionally, none of the players received any remuneration for the photo session. And that’s what’s most problematic in this case. Pursuant to article 81 of the 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, the right to disseminate the image of a person does not require the consent of that person (unless explicitly stated otherwise) if that person had received an agreed to remuneration.

The Court of first instance found for Zurawski, however the appeal court reversed and dismissed the case. The reason of that were differing interpretations of article 33(2) of the Act on Qualified Sports – AQS – (in Polish: Ustawa o sporcie kwalifikowanym) of 29 July 2005, Jurnal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 155, item 1298, with subsequent amendments, which was relied on by TP S.A. and PZPN in their argumentation.

each member of the national team, grants an exclusive right to his/her image in the national representation team outfit, to an appropriate athletics association, which is then entitled to use that image for economic purposes within the scope set forth in the Statute of that association or other international organization active in that field.

However, the very same article in sec. 2 states that the representative does indeed give his/her consent to disseminate his/her image in the national representation team outfit, however he/she does that within the meaning of article 81(1) of the ARNR. And this led to two different interpretations by two different courts: court of I instance held that article 33(2) of the AQS creates a direct duty to obtain a separate consent from the sportsman, whereas the appeal court found that such consent is impliedly given the moment the athlete (here football player) joins the national team. The SC agreed with the latter interpretation, stating that by joining the national team the player does indeed agree to a significant limitation on his right to image, whenever the image consists of him in the national representation’s outfit. Other than that he retains full rights to his right to publicity (in particular image). Hence, Żurawski ultimately lost the case.

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

Copyright law, case I ACa 1145/06

August 2nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warszawa in its judgment of 11 May 2007 case file I ACa 1145/06 held that creation of layout and graphic form of the portal, as well as its improvement and change over the use of such a web portal is in the definition of a copyrightable work as provided in the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), 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.

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2284/08

April 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 1990, Zygmunt Piotrowski who is a well-known Polish graphic artist, created the logotype that depicted the porch with columns and attic finial of the Penderecki’s house in Lusłwice with “heritage” inscription underneath. It was created for the Heritage Promotion of Music and Art company, whose founders were Elżbieta Penderecka and Janusz Pietkiewicz, later the director of the Polish National Opera. The logotype was adopted by the Heritage Films company that was founded in 1991 by Janusz Pietkiewicz and Lech Rywin after the withdrawal of Elżbieta Penderecka from Heritage Promotion of Music and Art company.

Heritage

At the request of Heritage Films, the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 27 June 2001, case no. Sp. 3/97 invalidated the word-figurative trade mark Heritage R-87806 belonging to the Piotrowski’s company. The Supreme Administrative Court in its decision of 14 December 2001 case file II SA 3446/01 confirmed the decision of the PPO, and dismissed the cassation complaint. The SAC clearly stated that the English word “heritage” is not a generic term for the services it was registered for, nor does it inform about its properties, quality or usefulness. Therefore “heritage” word can be used as a trade mark. It is not widely known or used in the market in order to identify such services as impresario and management consultancy services, the recruitment and placement of people for work for orchestra, soloists and artists of various disciplines of art. However, the court held the the company name could be an obstacle to grant the rights of protection for a trade mark. It was unclear for the SAC why the PPO’s decision lacks the explanation as to why the picture of the porch with the HERITAGE inscription makes the right to the company name (which was existing from 1991) impossible to be applicable as grounds for the invalidation. If the reason would be the recognition of the word HERITAGE to be protected by copyright law as the title, it should be better clarified. It was more necessary for the Court because the title could benefit from the copyright protection “only in very exceptional circumstances”.

The case went back to the PPO. On 17 April 2002, the Polish Patent Office invalidated of the right of protection of the trade mark HERITAGE R-87806. One more time Mr Piotrowski filed a complaint before the Supreme Administrative Court. The SAC in its judgment of 12 March 2003 case file II SA 1867/02 ruled that in accordance with the general rules, in the event of a collision between company name (the firm) and trade mark that has been registered with the “later precedence”, the priority shall be given to the right that existed earlier.

A year later, the Polish Patent Office registered the trade mark Heritage Films R-151966. Zygmunt Piotrowski has requested the invalidation proceedings argued that the trade mark Heritage Films infringes on his personal and economic rights afforded by the copyright law. The PPO rejected the request claiming the word “heritage” is a common expression and regardless of its importance for the artist it is not eligible for the copyright protection. Piotrowski filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 15 April 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2284/08 ruled that the word “heritage” has no distinctive character and may be registered only in composition with some other description. And because it is not a subject of copyright protection the request had to be dismissed. Zygmunt Piotrowski has already announced he is going to file a cassation complaint.

Copyright law, case I PKN 196/98

March 21st, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 26 June 1998 case file I PKN 196/98, published in the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Chamber of Administrative, Labour and Social Insurance (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Administracyjna, Pracy i Ubezpieczeń Społecznych) of 1999, No 14, item 454, ruled that if the performance of the duties that are originating from the employment relationship has to rely on the creative activity of an employee then it depends on the will of the parties to whom the author’s economic rights will be attributed. If the ownership of these rights is undefined in the employment contract, it means that within the limits of the employment contract and consistent intention of the parties, the author’s economic rights to these works are acquired by the employer in the moment of their acceptance (article 12(1) f the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights).

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