Archive for: defamation

Personal interest, case I ACa 544/15

March 17th, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 January 2016 case file I ACa 544/15 decided a case of a person who offers legal assistance to entities who have received the payment order, and also writes articles and tips describing among other things, business debt collection companies and their activities. These articles were published online. The plaintiff in this case, one of such companies, felt that content of defendant’s posts infringed its personal interest – the company name. The defendant was found liable in first instance, however, the judgment was overturned on an appeal. The Court held that the District Court did not perform comprehensive assessment of the evidence.

The Appeallate Court did not agree that printouts from a website could serves as a private document according to the provisions of Article 245 of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments. A private document is proof that the person who signed it, made a statement contained in the document. This means that inherent feature of this type of evidence is the signature. The evidence provided by the plaintiff did not contain a signature. The CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of what can be deemed as evidence in civil proceedings. As evidence can serve documents (official and private), testimonies of witnesses, expert opinions, inspection, hearing the parties. Moreover, based on the provisions of Article 308 § 1 of the CPCP, the Court may also admit movies, television series, photocopies, photographs, plans, drawings and CDs or audio tapes and other devices that store images or sounds, as evidence. The Court ruled that prints from websites are not a private document within the meaning of Article 244 and 245 of the CPC. However, such prints may be considered as “another type of evidence” within the meaning of Article 309 of the CPC, as the CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of evidence, and it is acceptable to use any source of information about the facts relevant to the outcome of the case, and as evidence may serve any legally obtained media or information of the facts. See “Procedural law, case I CSK 138/08“. Plaintiff’s claims and submitted evidence suggested that the claimant saw defendant’s posts on a web site and later saved it in its own web browser. In this way the Company has presented to the court only copies of files that were posted on a website, and not, as erroneously the District Court stated, printouts from the website maintained by the defendant. The Court pointed out that there are plenty of ways to modify the content of a website. The Appeallate Court decided that the plaintiff has submitted evidence of low credibility, since they did not provide information that their content was corresponding to was actually visible on the screen while a website with defamatory content was accessed. The Court found that it was also not known when the plaintiff has saved the content of a website, as the date of saving process was not indicated, and as the date the violation of personal rights was also not mentioned.

Personal interest, case I ACa 142/15

February 17th, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 December 2015 case file I ACa 142/15 decided a case of a Polish rockman who sued a tabloid newspaper for publishing online article that infringed his personal interests. The Court found the journalist and author of the article liable and ordered him to publish apology and to pay proper compensation. However, the Court dismissed the claim that would order the publisher to remove the article from newspaper’s website. The Court ruled that the role of the judicial authorities is not to participate in the falsification of history by ordering the removal from the public sphere of all traces of publications recognized in the past by the final judicial decisions as unjustifiable attack on the good name of individuals. Accordingly, a proportional and adequate form of protection for the plaintiff would by be amending online defamatory publications with a relevant footnote, comment or link to information about the outcome of the proceedings.

Personal interests, case I CSK 128/13

January 4th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Roman Giertych sued Ringer Axel Springer, the publisher of fakt.pl website, for the infringement of personal interests. Mr Giertych demanded that defamatory comments posted at fakt.pl should be removed by the publisher. He also seek for the compensation and the apology to be published on some websites.

Ringer Axel Springer argued that it is not responsible for the comments that appeared on its website based on the provisions afforded in the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, and the TOS that excluded the liability of the publisher for vulgar or offensive comments.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 October 2011 case file III C 330/11 agreed that all these comments were defamatory, however, the Court ruled that there is a different legal status of the editorial part of the website that included newspaper articles, and another status has to be attributed to a part that included the users’ comments – i.e. an internet forum, even if these comments were posted under the article placed by the owner of a website/web hosting provider. Despite claiming the right to control the content of entries (comments) that were made ​​by website’s readers, in the light of the provisions of the PSEM, the publisher has no such obligation. The Court decided that the publisher can not be held responsible for offensive comments posted on its website, however it can be found responsible only in case it failed to remove such comments, after obtaining positive knowledge of the unlawful nature of such entries. It means that under the Polish law, the publisher is not liable for the infringement of personal rights, but only for a possible damage that is based on the general principles that are provided in the Polish Civil Code. Mr Giertych appealled.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 October 2012 case file VI A Ca 2/12 made a clear distinction between the services provided by Ringer Axel Springer. The first one was a news service of a daily newspaper made available for free in the electronic form under the domain name fakt.pl, and the second was a free service of the internet forum. The provisions of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendments, should be applied to the first service, and the provisions of the PSEM to the second. The Court ruled that comments posted for free, by anonymous users of fakt.pl website under the article that was an online version of a paper edition, do not constitute press materials as defined in the Article 7(2)(i) of the APL. The lack of any influence from the editorial over anonymously published comments, not to mention any of their prior verification makes this kind of speech free of control and as such cannot be regarded as a press material. The Court disagreed with Mr Giertych that such comments should be treated as “letters sent to the editor” of a journal that is published electronically. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 September 2000 case file V KKN 171/98 ruled that letters to the editor are the press material if they were sent to the editor for publication, and the editor-in-chief is responsible for publication of press releases, however, the publication of the letter to the editor must be preceded by careful and accurate checking of the information contained in such a letter to the editor. The Court agreed that such comments could be deemed as letter to the editor according to the APL, but only, if they were published in the paper version of the magazine, therefore, the editor (editor-in-chief) or the publisher would have full control over the content of such comments/letters. Users of fakt.pl do not send their their opinions and comments to the editorial of fakt.pl for publication on a discussion forum that exists on that same website, but they decide themselves about such a publication. The editor-in-Chief cannot therefore be responsible for comments published by third parties, because he or she had no control over the content or the action. The Court also ruled that Mr Giertych drawn incorrect conclusions as to the Terms of Service of fakt.pl website, in which the editorial of fakt.pl allegedly reserved the right and at the same time undertook its control over the content posted on fakt.pl website, including comments, and the right to manage them, especially the right to decide which comment deserves publication and which does not. First, the Court found that Ringer Axel Springer has reserved only the right and not an obligation to manage of comments posted by users, secondly, this right was reserved in the TOS ​​not on behalf of the editorial of a journal that is published in electronic form under the domain name fakt.pl, but on behalf of the administrator of the IT system, thirdly, the reserved right applied not to decisions about publication of a particular comment on the website, but to decisions about its blocking, moderation or deletion. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal. Mr Giertych filed a cassation appeal.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 January 2014 case file I CSK 128/13 partially agreed with Mr Giertych and returned the case to the lower court for reconsideration. The SC held that if the comments were defamatory and included vulgar words, the IT system applied at fakt.pl should have automatically removed such comments, but it did not, therefore it must be presumed that the publisher of a website, could know about offensive comments. If there was such knowledge, then the publisher/editor is liable for the infringement of personal interests. The Supreme Court established the so-called presumption of facts based on the provisions of the Article 231 of the Civil Proceedings Code. The court may conclude and consider as established facts, that are relevant for the outcome of the case, if such a conclusion can be derived from other established facts (presumption of fact).

Regardless of the cassation complaint filed in this case, Mr Giertych filed a complaint before the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. Mr Giertych requested the Tribunal to decided whether Article 14 of the PSEM is consistent with the principle of the rule of law, the right to protect of private life, family, honor and good name.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 1666/12

August 26th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Promedica Care Sp. z o.o requested the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) to issue a decision that would order Agora S.A., the owner of gazeta.pl website, to disclose IP addresses of users who posted negative comments regarding Promedica24.pl website. The GIODO decided that Agora S.A. should disclose requested information, although, it also noticed that the provisions of Article 29 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, were repealed as of 7 March 2011.

1. The processing of data is permitted only if:
1) the data subject has given his/her consent, unless the processing consists in erasure of personal data,
2) processing is necessary for the purpose of exercise of rights and duties resulting from a legal provision,
3) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract,
4) processing is necessary for the performance of tasks provided for by law and carried out in the public interest,
5) processing is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controllers or data recipients, provided that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

However, these regulations should be still applied to proceedings initiated before the entry into force of the Act that repealed the above mentioned provisions, and there was no obstacle to justify the refusal to provide the requested data according to the provisions of Article 30 of the PPD.

Article 30
The controller shall refuse the access to the personal data of the filing system to subjects and persons other than those referred to in Article 29 paragraph 1, if it would:
1) result in the disclosure of the information constituting a state secrecy,
2) pose a threat to national defence or security of the state, human life and health, or security and public order,
3) pose a threat to fundamental economic or financial interests of the state,
4) result in a substantial breach of personal interests of the data subjects or other persons.

The General Inspector did not agree with Agora S.A. that providing the requested data would infringe personal interests of the users of gazeta.pl website and its fora. The violation was only hypothetical, and was not supported by proper evidence. Agora S.A. argued that there are no legal instruments that would allow for monitoring the use of disclosed data, and this may lead to their use not only inconsistent with the purpose for which they were disclosed, but even to such use that is contrary to law. The GIODO noted that the absence of such instruments is not synonymous with the use of disclosed data contrary to the purpose for which it was made available. At the moment such data was disclosed, the Company will become the controller (administrator) as defined in the Article 7(4) of the PPD.

Article 7
Whenever in this Act a reference is made to any of the following, it shall mean:
4) controller – shall mean a body, an organisational unit, an establishment or a person referred to in Article 3, who decides on the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

According to the GIODO, the processing of these data will be subject to the regulations provided in the provisions of the PPD, in particular the obligation not to undergo further processing of the data collected that would not be in accordance with the objectives of the disclosure (so-called principle of expediency/purposefulness), and the control of data processing in compliance with the provisions on personal data protection will be still the competence of the Inspector General. Agora S.A. argued that the provisions of Article 18 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, should be applied in its case, not the provisions of the PPD.

Article 18
1. The service provider may process the following personal data of the service recipient necessary for entering in, designing contents, amending or terminating legal relationship between them:
1) service recipient’s surname and names ,
2) his/her PESEL number (Personal Identification Number),
3) his/her permanent residence address,
4) his/her address for correspondence, if it is different than the address referred to in point 3,
5) data used for verifying the service recipient’s electronic signature ,
6) service recipient’s electronic addresses .
2. In order to effect contracts or other legal activity having been concluded with a service recipient, a service provider may process other data necessary due to nature (characteristics) of the service provided or way of its billing.
3. The service provider distinguishes and marks those data from among the data referred to in paragraph 2, as such being necessary for providing services by electronic means in accordance with art. 22 paragraph 1.
4. The service provider may process, upon consent of s service recipient and for the purposes set forth in art. 19 paragraph 2 point 2, other data concerning the service recipient, which are not necessary for providing service by electronic means.
5. The service provider may process the following data describing the way of using the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient (traffic data):
1) denotations identifying the service recipient assigned on the basis of the data referred to in paragraph 1,
2) denotations identifying the telecommunication network terminal or a teleinformation system, which have been used by a service recipient,
3) information about commencement, termination and a range of every usage of the service provided by electronic means,
4) information about using of the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient.
6. The service provider provides the information on data referred to in paragraphs 1 – 5 to the state authorities for the needs of legal proceedings carried on by them.

The provider is therefore obliged to provide information on all categories of data listed in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, to the State authorities for the purpose of the proceedings conducted by them. The Inspector General noted that the disclosed information should also be understood as such data. The GIODO said that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM are constructed in general terms and do not indicate either the types of bodies that may request such information, or the types of proceedings: criminal, civil, administrative or enforcement. The Inspector General noted that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM only requires the provider to disclose information to State bodies, and it should not be interpreted broadly as the legal norm that is prohibiting the disclosure of such information to other entities. The GIODO decided that if the legislature had the intention to limit the disclosure of the information referred to in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, only for the bodies referred to in Article18(6) of the Act, it would explicitly formulate this provision, for example, by using the phrase “only”, which is a legislative method of defining the closed circle of entities, as it was provided in other regulations, for instance in the Article 66g and Article 66j § 4 of the Polish Act of 17 June 1966 on Administrative Enforcement Proceedings, or in the Article 72(1) of the Polish Act 5 August 2010 on Protection of Classified Information and in Article 105(1) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 Banking Law. The Inspector General noted that the legislature did not use the phrase “only” in the provisions of Article 218 of the Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments, in relation to an obligation to disclose, at the request contained in the order, to the court or the prosecutor any mail and packages and the data referred to in Article 180c and 180d of the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments.

Article 180c
1. The obligation referred to in Article 180a (1) shall cover the data necessary to:
1) trace the network termination point, telecommunications terminal equipment, an end user:
a) originating the call,
b) called;
2) identify:
a) the date and time of a call and its duration,
b) the type of a call,
c) location of telecommunications terminal equipment.
2. The minister competent for communications in agreement with the minister competent for internal affairs, having regard to the type of telecommunications activities performed by operators of a public telecommunications network or providers of publicly available telecommunications services, data specified in paragraph 1, costs of data collection and retention as well as the need to avoid multiple retention and storage of the same data, shall specify, by means of an ordinance:
1) a detailed list of data referred to in paragraph 1;
2) types of public telecommunications network operators or providers of publicly available telecommunications services obliged to retain and store the data.

Article 180d
Telecommunications undertakings shall be obliged to provide conditions for access and retention as well as to make available at their own cost the data referred to in Article 159 (1) (1) and (3) to (5), in Article 161 and in Article 179 (9) related to the provided telecommunications service and processed by them to authorized entities, to the court and to the prosecutor, under the terms and observing the procedures specified in separate provisions.

The Inspector General stressed that the legislature has indicated that only the court or the prosecutor is allowed to open the correspondence, mail and data, or order for their opening.

Article 218
§ 1. Offices, institutions and entities operating in post and telecommunications fields, customs houses, and transportation institutions and companies, shall be obligated to surrender to the court or state prosecutor upon demand included in their order, any correspondence or transmissions significant to the pending proceedings. Only the court and a state prosecutor shall be entitled to inspect them or to order their inspection.

The Inspector General also stressed that the above-cited provisions of the CRPC should not be applied in this case, because Promedica Care Sp. z o.o is not the authority conducting the proceedings in a criminal case, and the disclosed personal data will be used by it to initiate civil, not criminal proceedings. The GIODO indicated that Promedica may follow the procedure provided for in Article 29 of the PPD, and civil proceedings under the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments, regardless of actions taken under the criminal proceedings. Agora S.A. filed a complaint.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 March 2012 II SA/Wa 2821/11 repealed the contested decision, and held that according to the provisions of Article 18(6) of the PSEM, the only one empowered to obtain data collected by the service provider within the meaning of that Act, are the State bodies. The PSEM does not contain any other provision, which serve as the basis for disclosure of data to the entities other than state authorities. The court stated that if the legislature’s intention was to give permission to obtain operational data to entities other than state authorities, it would have included a clear regulation providing for such permission in the PSEM. Data protection is a general rule. The service provider may process personal and operational data only in the extent and on terms defined in the PSEM. Only in the absence of regulations provided in the PSEM such processing may be based on an appropriate application of the PPD. The disclosure of data to third parties – such as Promedica Care – is breaking of that protection and as an exception to the rule cannot be interpreted broadly. GIODO filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 August 2013 case file I OSK 1666/12 dismissed it. The SAC held that any company or individual has the right to request ISPs to disclose e-mail addresses and IP addresses that are associated with the offensive entries.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection“, “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Criminal law, case IV K 875/07

September 19th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

A person, who was working in a call center of one of the Polish telecommunication company, has used social service offered by that company and sent to subscribers of the telecommunications company a text message in which he made derogatory statements regarding another person. This person felt insulted and brought private charges based on the provisions of Article 212 § 2 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

The Regional Court for Warszawa City IV Criminal Division in its judgment of 5 July 2012 case file IV K 875/07 sentenced the accused person to a fine. The Court held that the sent message humiliated this person in public and exposed to the loss of trust necessary for the conduct of his business. The case was heard on 33 hearings.

Criminal law, case III K 56/12

September 14th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Robert Frycz created a website that was available under anytkomor.pl domain. The domain name and the content referred to the activities of the Polish president Bronisław Komorowski. It hosted a game entitled “Komor Killer” in which the player was able to throw feces in the animated figure of the President Komorowski.

The Prosecutor Office from Tomaszów Mazowiecki pressed charges against Mr Frycz based on the provisions of Article 135 § 2 of the Polish Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 135. § 1. Whoever commits an active assault on the President of the Republic of Poland
shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.
§ 2. Whoever insults the President of the Republic of Poland in public
shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.

The judge decided to conceal the hearing due to breach of good manners and important private interests of the Polish President. The District Court in Piotrków Trybunalski in its judgment of 14 September 2012 case file III K 56/12 found Mr Frycz guilty and sentenced him for the penalty of one year and three months of of the restriction of liberty with the obligation to perform 40 hours of community service per month.

Personal interest, case C-161/10

July 23rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 25 October 2011 joined Cases C‑509/09 and C‑161/10 eDate Advertising GmbH v X and Olivier Martinez, Robert Martinez v MGN Limited ruled that Article 5(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of an alleged infringement of personality rights by means of content placed online on an internet website, the person who considers that his rights have been infringed has the option of bringing an action for liability, in respect of all the damage caused, either before the courts of the Member State in which the publisher of that content is established or before the courts of the Member State in which the centre of his interests is based. That person may also, instead of an action for liability in respect of all the damage caused, bring his action before the courts of each Member State in the territory of which content placed online is or has been accessible. Those courts have jurisdiction only in respect of the damage caused in the territory of the Member State of the court seised.

The Court also ruled that Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), must be interpreted as not requiring transposition in the form of a specific conflict-of-laws rule. Nevertheless, in relation to the coordinated field, Member States must ensure that, subject to the derogations authorised in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 3(4) of Directive 2000/31, the provider of an electronic commerce service is not made subject to stricter requirements than those provided for by the substantive law applicable in the Member State in which that service provider is established.

Personal interest, case IV CSK 665/10

November 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Writing under a pseudonym, Dariusz B. posted a comment on the website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24”. In his post Dariusz B. wrote to the Mayor of the Elbląg town, that he has photographs of people who sit in the city council, and he described the content of these pictures as a “sex scandal”. He noted that the Mayor’s spokesman ignored this case, so he wanted to know what should he do next with such photographs. Other anonymous Internet users posted comments under the post that has been written by Dariusz B. One of them has disclosed who is the author of the post, and also expressed a negative opinion about the post, by calling it a blackmail. This person also suggested that Dariusz B. has used the media for his own purposes in order to manipulate press journalists. The intentions of Dariusz B. and his honesty, were also undermined. The post of Dariusz B. was described as a blatant violation of the law for which he should bear criminal responsibility. “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” is a service available for free. It is operated by the Municipality of the Elblag town. The comment in which personal data of Dariusz B. was disclosed was written from a computer that had the IP address belonging to the organizational unit of the Elblag town. The unit operates wireless Wi-Fi, whose range includes several publicly accessible areas of the building and parking lot adjacent to it. It was not possible to identify the person who posted this comment. The Police, at the request of Dariusz B. commenced an investigation and failed to establish who was the author of the comment, even when the Municipality of Elblag has disclosed all data, including IP addresses. Dariusz B. sued the Municipality of Elbląg for the infringement of his personal interests. The District Court and the Appellate Court dismissed the suit. Dariusz B. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 8 July 2011 case file IV CSK 665/10, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 898708, held that critical comments of the content of post and the very fact of its posting, or disclosure of the name and surname of Dariusz B., was not a violation of his personal interest. However, it was a violation of personal interests (dignity and reputation) when such action has been called illegal activity, fraudulent and manipulative, a blackmail and provocation, which undoubtedly discredited Dariusz B. in public opinion, especially as a social activist, who was active at another online forum. Such statement, not supported by the facts, was unlawful. In the case of an infringement of one’s personal interests, the court may award pecuniary compensation to a person whose personal interests have been infringed, an approriate amount as pecuniary compensation for the wrong suffered or may, on his demand, adjudge an appropriate amount of money to be paid for a social purpose chosen by him, irrespective of other means necessary to remedy the effects of the infringement. Not only the person who directly caused the damage shall be liable, but also any person who has induced or helped another person to cause the damage, including those who consciously took benefit from a damage caused to another person. However, the Court ruled that there was no normal causal link between the actions of the Municipality of Elblag, and the damage suffered by Dariusz B., and such a link occurs only when the action is directed to accomplish the tortious activity.

By opearating a website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” and a discussion forum, the Municipality of Elbląg was deemed as the Internet services provider. However, such ISPs, are responsible for the violation of personal rights performed by others only when they knew that the post violates these interests and they did not immediately prevent the access to the post. Therefore, the ISP is not obliged to control the content of posts written by users on a free discussion forum website. Taking into account the nature and purpose of services based on making available free of charge of a discussion website, and considering also that there were no general rules for the management of such services and systems, the Court held that there were no grounds to impose a general obligation on the ISP to provide tools to identify users of such a website. The Court ruled that the anonymity of persons using the publicly available online news website, is a generally accepted principle and essence of this type of service. It provides freedom of expression, which is the goal of such websites. Consequently, the Court held that the ISP that created and provides free access to the website with a discussion forum, has no obligation to ensure the ability to identify the users who maded posts on this website.

Computer crime, case XII K 32/10

October 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A locally practicing lawyer (advocate) from Kielce used the nickname “bondd007” and posted on an online forum, among others such comments that the Director of the Tax Office in Kielce “probably likes” when the manager of one of the departments “puts an ice cream” – the expression in Polish slang that means oral sex.

The Regional Court in Kielce in its judgment of March 2010 case file XII K 32/10, found the lawyer guilty of defamation. The Court held that such words insulted the manager, slander her to sexual contact with the principal in the workplace and thus exposed her to a loss of trust necessary for the position occupied. The District Court in Kielce in its judgment of 19 October 2010 upheld the judgment.

Computer crime, case V KK 391/11

September 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Mr Łukasz Kasprowicz publishes frequently different news and information about the municipal office at Mosina on his website (blog) available at mosina.blox.pl. Zofia Springer the Mayor of Mosina filed private charges against Mr Kasprowicz on the basis of Article 212 § 2 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).

§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

The mayor felt insulted by some of the stories published by the blogger and concluded that the routine writing about her and the office is undermining its reputation. The Observatory of Media Freedom in Poland run by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights was present during the hearing as a person of trust, based on Article 361 § 3 of the Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments. During the hearing on 9 May 2010, Łukasz Kasprowicz was referred by the Court for a psychiatric examination (in search for the opinion of an expert psychiatrist), and the counsel for the defence was appointed by the Court.

The Regional Court in Poznań Stare Miasto in its judgment of 25 January 2011 case file VIII K 745/09/8 sentenced Łukasz Kasprowicz for three hundred hours of community service and prohibited Mr Kasprowicz from performing professional activities as a journalist for one year, which also means the annual ban on publishing articles on the Internet. Mr Kasprowicz appealed. The District Court in Poznań in its judgment of 8 June 2011 case file IV Ka 266/11 overturned the questioned judgment. The Court acquitted Mr Kasprowicz of 13 charges, and in the other two the Court decided to discontinue the case/proceedings due to the relatively low social harm of the actions. Zofia Springer filed a cassation complaint to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 16 October 2012 case file V KK 391/11 decided that opinions published on websites are not different from these expressed in other media. Therefore, the assessment on the infringement of personal rights should be not applied differently.

Telecommunications law, case I OSK 1079/10

August 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1598/09“. The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 15 July 2010 case file I OSK 1079/10 decided to stay the execution of the decision issued by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO), and ruled that the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments, provides broader protection of personal data because of telecommunications confidentiality, than the provisions of the Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 29 October 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments. The Court held that the disclosure of IP addresses which enable identification of specific individuals, that was ordered during administrative proceedings initiated with regard to disclosure of such data, while such proceedings did not ended with judgment in force, may violate the provisions of Article 160 of the TLA.

Article 160.
1. An entity participating in the performance of telecommunications activities within public networks and entities cooperating with it shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality.
2. Entities referred to in paragraph 1 shall maintain due diligence, within the scope justified by technical or economic reasons, while securing telecommunications equipment, telecommunications networks and data collections from disclosing the telecommunications confidentiality.
3. A person coming into possession of a message not meant to be read by him/her when using radio or terminal equipment shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality. The provisions of Article 159 (3) and (4) shall respectively apply.
4. The recording of a message acquired in a manner described in paragraph 3 by a body executing control of telecommunications activities in order to document a violation of a provision of the Act, shall not be a violation of the telecommunications confidentiality.

While assessing the validity of the request to stay the execution of GIODO’s decision to disclose the requested IP address at this stage of proceedings, the Court agreed with the author of the cassation complaint, that the execution of the questioned decision at this stage makes it impossible to reverse the actions taken after the disclosure of the IP addresses, and such action should be seen as causing the effects that are difficult to reverse according to Article 61(3) of the Act of 30 August 2002 on the Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, subsequent amendments.

§ 1 Filing a complaint does not stay the execution of the act or actions.

§ 3 After the delivery of a complaint to the court, the court may issue at the request of the applicant, the order to stay the execution, in whole or in part of the act or actions referred to in § 1, if there is a risk of causing significant damage or cause to be difficult to reverse, with the exception of the provisions of local law which entered into force, unless the special Act excludes the stay of their execution. The refusal to stay the execution of the act or actions by the authority, does not deprive the applicant of action to the court. This also applies to acts issued or adopted in all proceedings conducted within the same case.

The SAC held that if the Supreme Administrative Court would agree with the cassation complaint filed against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 3 February 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1598/09, the effects of the execution of the questioned decision could not be reversed, because the IP address identifying a specific person is available to another participant in the proceedings. Accordingly, the court held that the correct solution at this stage of proceedings, is to stay the execution of the questioned decision also with a view to the impact of which its execution might result in, as well as the nature of the protection of personal data resulting from the relevant regulations such as, inter alia, the TLA.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Criminal law, case III KK 234/7

July 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Barbara W. was charged by the Prosecutor for insulting Mieczysław W. by posting on 30 June 2005 comments regarding his peron such “erotomaniac” on a website ocen.pl that is used to evaluate academics by their students. The charges were based on the provisions of Article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Chapter XXVII
Offences against Honour and Personal Inviolability
Article 212
§ 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to
activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

The case went through all instances. The Supreme Court in its order of 7 May 2008 case file III KK 234/7 dismissed the cassation filed by Mieczysław W. and ruled that the provisions of Article 216 of the CRC should be invoked in this case, instead of Article 212 of the CRC.

Article 216
§ 1. Whoever insults another person in his presence, or though in his absence but in public, or with the intention that the insult shall reach such a person,
shall be subject to a fine or the penalty of restriction of liberty .
§ 2. Whoever insults another person using the mass media,
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of
deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

The Court ruled that the Internet is a medium of communication, as provided for in Articles 212 § 2 and 216 § 2 of the CRC, by means of which the offender may commit both defamation and insult. However, it was impossible in the current state of the law to rule that the mere provision of a computer to a third party decides on the criminal responsibility of its owner, in case if turned out that a person using such computer would be guilty of the offense. The Court held also that freedom of the press and other mass media that is guaranteed in the Article 14 of the Constitution, should also include media, as referred to in Article 216 § 2 and 212 § 2 of the CRC.

Computer crimes, case I KZP 7/10

July 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 29 June 2010 case file I KZP 7/10 held that, the prescription of defamation crime is counted from the date of publication of the offensive content. This crime is defined in the provisions of Article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).
§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

This issue was referred to the Supreme Court by the District Court, who had inquired whether the defamation is a crime of continuous nature, which means that in case of defamatory entry placed on the Internet, it is committed as long as entry is available on the website. Interestingly, the SC refused to answer this question but the Court deliberated very wide on this issue in the justification of the order. The Supreme Court ruled that on-line defamation is not a continuous crime, which would involve creating and maintaining the status recognized by law as unlawful. The Court was aware of the fact the interests of the victim are violated as long as the defamatory content is publicly available on a website. However, per analogy to the printed press, where the victim’s interests are harmed as long as there are archived copies of newspapers containing offensive words.

The Supreme Court held that the offense involving the placement of a defamatory content in the Internet as referred to in article 212 § 2 of the CC is committed at the moment to making an entry and not while removing it. This means that the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted with the private charge after a year from the time when the victim learned about the offender, but no later than the expiry of three years from the time it was committed.

Internet websites, case I C 1532/09

March 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Observatory of Media Freedom in Poland run by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights reported on a case of Augustyn Ormanty, the mayor of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska town, who sued Tomasz Baluś, the administrator of naszakalwaria.pl website, for personal rights infringement after he found that the website hosted defamatory comments directed to his person. Mr. Ormanty decided to request the court to order the removal of 18 comments because he received negative response from Tomasz Baluś who claimed that these questioned statements put in the form of comments to information published at his website, are the individual opinions of people who wrote it, for the content of which, Tomasz Baluś is not responsible, because they are owned by their authors.

The District Court I Civil division in Kraków in a judgment of 11 MArch 2010 case file I C 1532/09 ruled that naszakalwaria.pl website cannot be deemed as the press according to provisions of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets, because it did not meet the criterion of periodicity. The court noted that naszakalwaria.pl website is rather a collection of publications and serves as a wall on which people are able to post their comments. The court emphasized that the purpose of Internet portals, such as naszakalwaria.pl is primarily to initiate and shape public debate on issues important to the local community. The court added that the Internet is, in principle, free from control and could be subject to control only, if it fits the regulation provided in the APL. The court also stated that Augustyn Ormanty failed to prove that the offensive – in his opinion – comments related to the facts. According to the Court, they were rather opinions, which in principle cannot be judged based on the criterion of truth and falsehood.

In addition, the court held that Tomasz Baluś had a limited capacity for meticulousy checking and editing of the entries appearing on the forum of his website because of their large numbers. The court stated that the measures taken by the Mr. Baluś to search and control the entries for vulgarity and to remove obviously insulting comments were sufficient. According to the Court, Mr. Ormanty had a possibility and the right to request the removal of comments he found insulting, based on provisions of Article 14 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments.

1. A person who gives access to the contents of a network IT system to a customer, where the customer stores data, is not aware of the illegal features of the data or activity connected with the data and upon receiving an official notification or credible information about the illegal features of the data or activity connected with it, immediately bars access to the data, shall not be responsible for the data.
2. A Service provider who has received the official notification of an illegal character of the stored data that was supplied by the customer, and prevented the access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for damages resulting from preventing access to such data.
3. A service provider who has received credible information of the illegal character of the stored data supplied by the customer and prevented access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for the damage resulting from preventing access to such data, if it has immediately notified the customer of the intention to prevent access to data.

The court pointed out to the argument stating that the mayor is a public figure who must reckon with the fact that its activities may be subject to criticism. As a public figure, Mr. Ormanty should show greater resistance to critical opinions, negatively evaluating the performance of the functions entrusted to him. In conclusion, the Court added that the law has not kept pace with the development of modern technology and therefore, it does not precisely regulate the issues of freedom of expression in the Internet. Therefore, the careful evaluation of such situations, is entrusted to the judges. Their task is to ensure and guarantee the freedom of expression in similar cases.

See also “Social networking sites, case I A Ca 1202/09“.

Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1085/04

February 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In July 2003, the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) received a complaint in which a natural person, known as W.K. (personal data of the parties are removed from Polish courts’ judgments), requested the GIODO to issue an order to the Polish Internet company to reveal personal data of persons, against which the applicant wanted to initiate legal proceedings. The complaint showed that the online forum operated by the Internet company hosted defamatory content posted by persons using only nicknames.

W.K. proved that he had requested the Company to disclose full IP addresses of computers from which persons using only nicknames have sent messages to the online forum. The applicant also pointed out that the Regional Prosecutor’s Office refused to determine the perpetrators of the alleged defamation. The refusal was also upheld by the District Prosecutor’s Office.

W.K. pointed out that he brought a private accusation based on article 212 § 1 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with later amendments, to the Regional Court in K., against the persons who used given nicknames. The Court has issued an order in which it considered the private accusation legally ineffective because it included error in the form – i.e., no indication of names of defendants and their addresses, and W.K. did not clear these errors.

The GIODO has found that the purpose for which W.K. has applied for, i.e. the access to personal data, to assert his rights before the court, is legally justified. The use of these data by the applicant in the proceedings could not be considered as a violation of the rights and freedoms of persons whos personal data was collected because after the initiation of criminal or civil proceedings, personal data would be in a disposition the court.

The Company filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. The Court in a judgment of 9 February 2005, case file II SA/Wa 1085/04, annulled the contested decision. The VAC held that the complaint was based on article 23(1) pt. 5 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 29 October 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with later amendments.

1. The processing of data is permitted only if:
5) processing is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controllers or data recipients, provided that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

The court did not accept that the wording of this provision can be interpreted as a rule requiring a data controller to reveal personal data at the request of the person whose requested data does not concern. The basis for such claims available for third parties for purposes other than inclusion in the data collection, was provided in the article 29(1) and (2) of the PPD. This provision being in force until 1 May 2004, did not give rise to demand release of the data, if the controller/administrator of the data were private sector.

The Court also held that the imposition of the duty of the data controller can only be done when the information being available to the controller falls into the category of personal data as defined in article 6(1) of the PPD.

personal data shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.

The requested information related to IP addresses of computers from which the messages were posted by certain people using certain nicknames. The Company argued that it does not require users of its forum to identify themselves in order to post information, what causes that, the IT administration system of the portal website hosting different forums, registers only IP address of computers of persons using the system, and it does not produce other data for identifying the user of a forum. Only a request to the operator of the telecommunication network could lead to the identification of the computer which was connected to the server hosting the portal and its forums. The Court cited English and Polish comentators and found that information, that without extraordinary and disproportionate effort can be “linked” with a specific person, especially by using readily and widely available sources, also deserve credit for their category of personal data. The identifiable person is defined in article 6(2) of the Polish Act of August 29, 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of October 29, 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of July 6, 2002, No. 101, item 926, with later amendments.

2. An identifiable person is the one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his/her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
3. A piece of information shall not be regarded as identifying where the identification requires an unreasonable amount of time, cost and manpower.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Computer crime, case V K 1595/08

February 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Arnold Buzdygan brought a private accusation before the Regional Court for Wrocław Śródmieście V Criminal Division against Olgierd Rudak. The indictment was based on the provisions of Articles 212 § 2 and 216 § 2 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

Article 216
§ 1. Whoever insults another person in his presence, or though in his absence but in public, or with the intention that the insult shall reach such a person,
shall be subject to a fine or the penalty of restriction of liberty .
§ 2. Whoever insults another person using the mass media, shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

The court in Wroclaw was obliged ex officio under Article 35 § 1 of the Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, published Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments, to examine its jurisdiction and if found otherwise, to refer the case to the court with the proper one. The Court in Wrocław held that pursuant to Article 31 § 1 of the CRPC, the jurisdiction is where the offense was committed (the teritorial jurisdiction). Buzdygan claimed that the offense was commited in the article entitled “Trolls scour in the Net” which was published in the Polish magazine Przekrój of 11 November 2007, in addition the allegedly defamatory content was broadcasted by TV stations such as TVN, Polsat and TVP, in their news and in the Internet. Judge Jolanta Pol-Kulig had to decide on the location of the Internet.

[b]oth the editorial office of Przekrój and the abovementioned TV stations and the Internet are located in Warsaw, one should consider that the commitment of a crime to the detriment of the private prosecutor was performed in that place.

The Court in its order of 31 December 2008 case file V K 1595/08 referred the case to the Regional Court for Warszawa Śródmieście II Criminal Division. Interestingly, the Court in Wrocław did not consider that the alleged offense was not committed.

See also “Personal rights, case I ACa 949/09“.

Personal interest, case I ACa 949/09

February 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Since a couple of years he is a very controversial figure of the Polish Internet and he also has become the cause of two interesting judgments which I am going to report. Arnold Buzdygan appeared on different Polish newsgroups, where he wrotre, inter alia, on topics such as copyright, sexology, psychology and politics. His style of writing was, at least, very controversial. Due to the vulgarity of some of his statements (he claimed that such actions were performed by his followers who allegedly used his name), offers to make a bet and announcements of lawsuits and threats of beatings, a part of the Usenet community defined these behaviors as trolling and such informations was posted in the Polish Wikipedia’s entry devoted to Buzdygan’s persona. Arnold Buzdygan decided to sue.

In the petition for libel filed against the Association Wikimedia Poland and Agnieszka K., he demanded an order to remove the existing contents of the article Arnold Buzdygan in both English and Polish-language versions of Wikipedia, and to put the apology instead of these entries, and to block the possibility of future edition of the questioned article, He also requested the Court to order the Association Wikimedia Poland to pay him the compensation of moral injury and the costs of the process in the sum of 100000 PLN.

In the response to a petition, the Association of Wikimedia Poland requested the Court to dismiss the claim, pointing that such charges cannot be brought against it because of the lack of the so-called “passive legitimacy”. Wikimedia Poland stated that neither the Association itself, or persons acting on its behalf are not engaged in editing of the article on Arnold Buzdygan, Wikimedia Poland argued that it is not a database administrator of Wikipedia or administrator of the servers on which the information is stored, so it would not be possible to remove or permanent blocking of such entries.

The District Court in Wrocław dismissed the suit in judgment of 8 June 2009, case file I C 802/07. Buzdygan appealed, and his petition was dismissed by the Appellate Court in Wrocław in a judgment of 17 November 2009, case file I ACa 949/09, published in Orzecznictwo Apelacji Wrocławskiej, Biuletyn Sądu Apelacyjnego we Wrocławiu, No 1 (13), p. 5, Year MMX. The court ruled that the statements published in the disputed article and the mention of trolling do not infringe on Buzdygan’s personal rights. Descriptions of Buzdygan’s activity on different forums, though they may have a pejorative connotation, were the evaluation of the expression of views issued by Arnold Buzdygan, not the description of himself. The wording that was challenged by Buzdygan does not refer to his person, but it concerned the way of formulation of his speech in a public discussion, and the measure of negative evaluation did not exceed the permissible limit.

An active participant of online forums, being a well-known and recognizable in such community is, in this sense, a “public personality”. As a public person, participating in discussions, one agrees and must reckon with the fact that his or her opinions and statements will be subjected to criticism by other users, sometimes very radically and one has to demonstrate greater tolerance and even resistance to unfavourable and unflattering opinions, and even violent attacks. The boundaries of acceptable criticism are wider in fact, than in the case of persons not participating in such discussions. The evidence proceedings during the hearings has shown that Buzdygan was and is very active participant in online forums, and he is a known figure. By applying the test of the higher degree of tolerance for unflattering opinions, the Court found that the wording of the Wikipedia entry devoted to Arnold Buzdygan did not exceed the agreed and acceptable standard.

See also “Computer crime, case V K 1595/08“.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 1079/10

February 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

According to lawyers representing the singer Maryla Rodowicz, on the forum of one of the Polish portal websites appeared entries with the content which allegedly violated her personal rights (interests). The lawyers requested the owner to reveal IP addresses of users who posted these entries. The administrator of the portal website deleted the disputed entries but did not reveal any of the IP addresses. Lawyers filed a request to the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO), who ordered the portal to disclose IPs on the grounds that these numbers are personal data. The owner of the portal again refused. The case went to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw, which in a judgment of 3 February 2010, case file II SA/Wa 1598/09 upheld the decision of the GIODO. The company who owns the portal may file a cassation to the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). The VAC judgment provides the interpretation that IP address is a personal data, in accordance with the statutory definition included in article 6 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of October 29, 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of July 6, 2002, No. 101, item 926, with later amendments.

Article 6
1. Within the meaning of the Act personal data shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
2. An identifiable person is the one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his/her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
3. A piece of information shall not be regarded as identifying where the identification requires an unreasonable amount of time, cost and manpower.

The VAC also noted that the IP address is personal data if it is permanently assigned to the specified device, and that device is used or operated by a specified entity. This dependence makes certain, in given situations, that there is the possibility of identifying such entity. The Court said that it is true that the IP address itself is not sufficient to identify a person who use it, but together with other information a person can be identified. Grupa o2, the owner of a portal website filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 May 2011 case file I OSK 1079/10 dismissed the complaint and decided that information on the date and contents of the posts that are correlated with IP addresses, allows for unambiguous determination of identity of persons who have violated someone’s personal interests.

There was another court’s decision with regard to the aforementioned case and the disclosure of IP addresses. See “Telecommunications law, case I OSK 1079/10“. The U.S. courts and judges have quite different views on this issue. Read for example Johnson v. Microsoft Corp., 2009 WL 1794400 (W.D. Wash. June 23, 2009).

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Computer crime, case II K 320/07

December 14th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

Do you remember Cohen v. Google, Inc., 2009 WL 2883410 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 17, 2009)? If not, just see this short description available at citmedialaw.org website. And it looks like we will have a similar case in Poland. The Polish court wants Google to reveal its users data.

In the articled entitled “Google ma ujawnić e-maile“, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reports recent case of Jakub Świderski. Mr Świderski is a former councillor of Sopot town and a party of a criminal suit brought against him based on a private accusation/charge by Jacek Karnowski, the President of Sopot, (who has been served with seven corruption charges) and his former deputy Cezary Jakubowski. Karnowski and Jakubowski argue that they were insulted and offended by statements allegedly published by Świderski in the onepage magazine “Obserwator sopocki” (in English: “Sopot’s Observer”) that was distributed during local elections in 2006. They also claim that their “public confidence” was jeopardized by Świderski’ actions.

“Obserwator sopocki” was published only three times in 2006. Authors of published texts suggested illicit trade premises and municipal corruption. Karnowski said he had been particularly offended by a photograph depicting his caricature with the envelope in his hand suggesting that he is taking bribes.

Mr Karnowski argues that Świderski was the publisher of “Obserwator sopocki”. The problem is that it has to be proven. The newspaper was distributed on the streets, it was not registered as the press, and the authors wrote under pseudonyms/nicknames: takata1, rzeźniksopocki, wasp. Świderski did not admit that these were his nicknames. So far, the only evidence Karnowski had, was a statement issued by Świderski in which he said “To ja jestem głównym “Obserwatorem”” (in English: “I am the leading “Observer””).

The secret trial before the Regional Court Gdańsk-Południe, case file II K 320/07, was started three years ago. Świderski was charged based on privisions of article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with later amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).

§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

A few months ago Jakubowski and Karnowski requested the Court to issue an order for the disclosure of e-mail correspondence of Świderski. As Rzeczpospolita reports they asked the Court to exempt Google and Microsoft from the secrecy of correspondence, and to investigate by the Police of all IP addresses of persons, who corresponded with Świderski from July to November 2006. These are addresses registered at gmail.com and hotmail.pl.

Rzeczpospolita reports that Judge Ludwika Małkowska took into account the request of Karnowski to admit the evidence of “official secret information” and exempted Google Kraków (foreign controlled company whos parent company is Google). Judge Małkowska ordered Google Kraków to provide information on persons who registered e-mail addresses related to aforementioned nicknames, identities of all persons who have access to these accounts, from which IP addresses the correspondence was retrieved and what messages were sent to which of the e-mail addresses, together with their content. Judge Małkowska stated that in this case it is necessary to determine the person or persons responsible for the defamatory publications.

Press law, case VI Ka 202/09

August 3rd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Press law, case II K 367/08“. The District Court in Słupsk in its judgment of 18 June 2009 case file VI Ka 202/09 held that gby.pl – a portal website operated by Leszek Szymczak constituted press under the Press law, however, comments posted on this website by the Internauts do not constitute a press material for the content of which the website administrator could be held responsible. The District Court held that the posts are not letters to the editor or are not – as the Prosecutor argued – “quasi-letters” to the editor. The court said that the posting process on an internet forum is made automatically, there is no prior moderation of such messages.

The administrator of a portal website, which allows for posting comments, is the hosting service provider and is subject to regulations included in Article 14 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments.

1. A person who gives access to the contents of a network IT system to a customer, where the customer stores data, is not aware of the illegal features of the data or activity connected with the data and upon receiving an official notification or credible information about the illegal features of the data or activity connected with it, immediately bars access to the data, shall not be responsible for the data.
2. A Service provider who has received the official notification of an illegal character of the stored data that was supplied by the customer, and prevented the access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for damages resulting from preventing access to such data.
3. A service provider who has received credible information of the illegal character of the stored data supplied by the customer and prevented access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for the damage resulting from preventing access to such data, if it has immediately notified the customer of the intention to prevent access to data.

The Court ruled that the service provider cannot be held liable for material posted by its users. The court noted that the decision does not mean that no one should be held liable for the posts that contain an offensive material that is a subject to criminal prosecution. The responsibility for this activity should be borne by a direct perpetrator and the prosecution authorities should identify such persons by using the available technical resources (IP addresses). The Prosecution cannot go after the smallest line of resistance and charge the administrators, instead of the actual perpetrators.

See also “Press law, case VI Ka 409/07” and “Internet websites, case I C 1532/09“.

Personal rights, case II CSK 539/07

March 27th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The company QXL Poland sp. z o.o. is the owner of the allegro.pl auction website which removed the user account of a natural person (Cezary O.) who was using the nicknames CezCez, 2cez, 2xcez and espia. The company presented different reasons for its decision to remove the account and tried to justify such action by putting various statements about CezCez on its forum website “Cafe Nowe Allegro”. CezCez did not agree with QXL’s statements and sued. The court of first instance agreed with Cezary O.’s arguments and ruled that QXL Poland make a statement of apology as follows

Allegro.pl wishes to apologize to CezCez for using comments by one of its employees which publicly appeared on the New Cafe Allegro on 17 January 2003,– wording that implied CezCez was dishonest, he lies, he is selfish and that he pursues his own self-interest. These actions and comments affected the good name of CezCez, which was not the intention of QXP Poland.

The above statement was to be published on the Allegro.pl website but both parties appealed. The Appellate Court in Lodz did not share the conclusions of the court of first instance that the username (a nickname) used in internet services is personal right/interests (i.e. intangible personal property) eligible for protection under Articles 23 and 24 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
The personal interests of a human being, in particular to health, dignity, freedom, freedom of conscience, surname or pseudonym, image, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of home, and scientific, artistic, inventor’s and rationalizing achievements, shall be protected by civil law independent of protection envisaged in other provisions.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal rights are threatened by someone else’s action, may require the desist of that action, unless it is not illegal. In the event of the infringement one may also require, the person who committed the violation, to fulfill the actions necessary to remove its effects, in particular, to make a statement of the relevant content and appropriate format. According to the conditions laid down in the Code one may also require monetary compensation or payment of an appropriate amount of money for a social purpose indicated.
§ 2 If as the result of a breach of personal rights one has suffered pecuniary prejudice, the aggrieved person may claim compensation based on general principles.
§ 3 The above shall not prejudice the entitlements provided by other regulations, in particular in copyright law and the patent (invention) law.

The Appellate Court did not agree with the arguments that the user name (a nickname) has parallels with a pseudonym. The case went to the highest court in a further appeal as a cassation complaint. The Supreme Court of Republic of Poland in its judgment of 11 March 2008 case file II CSK 539/07 dismissed the case for procedural reasons. However, the SC did not agree with conclusion of the Appellate Court with regard to protection of nicknames or usernames in the digital environment. The court noted that a username fulfils a variety of functions. First, the creation of a username is a prerequisite to registering on the allegro.pl website in order to obtain its own account and so participate in auctions. A person using such a nickname may be a buyer or a seller. Secondly, a username allows a person to log into Allegro.pl website. In the process of logging in, the user is given a pair of identifiers, such as a username and password. Thirdly, the username/nickname identifies the individual in question in the online environment, in this particular case, in the environment of people using Allegro.pl services. The individual is therefore recognised as a user using a specific nickname. The Supreme Court could not agree with the position of Court of Appeal that the nickname is purely a technical issue used to personalise the operation. On the contrary it argued, the username/nickname defines and characterises the person who uses such an auction site, bids on it, is the party to a contract of sale, issues comments or is involved in correspondence with other users. The Court found that in some cases, participations in the auction website by a user using a specific name can be a source of information for other participants who know that this user typically takes part in an auction of that type, bids only to a certain amount of money, only on certain days, in a certain way, does not compete with users using specific names, that the user is honest, efficient and immediately carries out transactions, etc. The Supreme Court also ruled that a username identifies a specific natural person. A username consists of a series of signs and letters, and there are no counter-indications that a person who created his or her own username could use his or her own name, surname, artistic pseudonym, pen name, or alias or it could even be a natural person who is the agent and uses the company name (the firm) under which it operates its business. It appeared to the court that in the assumption of a username by a person rather than his or her own name, the pseudonym (which has so far been used as an example in artistic activities) is meant as the assumption of a nickname in order to allow for individualisation of that particular person. The word “nickname” comes from the Greek language (“pseudonymos”–bearing a false name, falsely named) and it means a first name, last name or another name which someone uses to conceal his real name or surname. The court found irrelevant the motivation of a person who takes a nickname which is used as a pseudonym only in the “internet environment” or that the nickname may only be associated with the activities of that particular person carried out within the scope of services offered by Allegro.pl, since it may also have a broader meaning and go beyond the services of Allegro.pl. Consequently, the court noted that a username is subject to legal protection on the same basis on which protection is granted for any name, pseudonym or firm name, under which a person has established its business (whether it is a company name or that of a private person). At the same time, the court found no reason to treat a username/nickname as a separate personal right.

Criminal law, case III KK 234/07

February 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court Criminal Chamber in its judgment of 7 May 2008 case file III KK 234/07 held that the freedom of the press and other means of social communication that are guaranteed in the Article 14 of the Polish Constitution, also include mass media communication, as referred to in 216 § 2 i 212 § 2 of the Criminal Code. The Court noted that Internet is deemed as a means of mass communication, whereby the offender may commit both the defamation and insult. The case concerned defamation via the Internet. The investigation established only a computer that was used to commit this type of offence. The Court observed that it is not possible to automatically connect a computer with a perpetrator. The Court ruled that there is a possibility to establish and determine the IP address to identify the owner of a specific computer, which has been used for defamatory or insulting actions, but there is no possibility to indicate who used such computer, if adequate evidence was not collected, and if the owner does not indicate the person who committed the offence. Sharing a computer with a third person is not a wrongful act. It is impossible in the current state of the law to recognize that the mere act of sharing of a computer with a third person results in criminal liability of its owner.

Press law, case II K 367/08

January 14th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Regional Court in Słupsk in its judgment of 16 December 2008, case file II K 367/08 acquitted Leszek Szymczak from charges of publishing press material featuring criminal content that publicly incited its readers to commit offences. This case concerned posts that were published at the online forum of http://gazetabytowska.pl website (also accessible at http://gby.pl), which – according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office – included incitement to commit crime. Charges were based on Article 49a of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 24, with subsequent amendments.

An editor who unintentionally published press material that featured criminal content mentioned in article 37a hereof, shall be subject to a fine penalty or the restriction of liberty.

In connection with the provisions of Article 255 of the Polish Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

1. A person who publicly calls for committing an offence of a fiscal crime shall be subject to a fine penalty, the restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to two years.
2. A person who publicly calls for committing a crime shall be subject to the restriction of liberty for up to three years.
3. A person who publicly praises the commitment of a crime shall be subject to a fine penalty amounting to up to 180 daily rates, the restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to one year.

The Court ruled that according to the provisions of Polish Press Law, Leszek Szymczak is the publisher and the editor, however the entries that were posted by visitors of his website did not constitute a press material. The appeal brought by the Prosecutor Office was rejected. See “Press law, case VI Ka 202/09“.

See also “Press law, case VI Ka 409/07” and “Press law, case IV KK 174/07“.

Personal rights, case I ACa 385/2006

July 31st, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

Update on Februrary 27, 2010.
I reported on a final judgment in Justyna Steczkowska’s case in my post entitled “Personal rights, case I ACa 1176/09“.

My post that was written in Polish language is too long and probably boring for most of you. It concerns Justyna Steczkowska’s naked pictures taken during her holiday at Turkish Rivera and being published by “Super Express”, which is one of many Polish tabliods. I also wrote about some comments that were posted by Polish lawyers regarding the right of privacy issue and I wanted to write a comparative note about American and Polish legal systems but I am way too busy for such undertaking. I can only tell you that Maciej Ślusarek, an attorney representing Justyna Steczkowska, will have easier case in Poland as opposed to the US legal reality. Mr. Ślusarek previously won a case against “Super Express” publisher and editor-in-chief. It was a very important judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 29 September 2006 case file I ACa 385/2006. Mr. Ślusarek represented another Polish singer Edyta Górniak. The Court held that there is a need to distinguish the persons carrying out the public functions, if a person due to the character of those functions might be subjected to public control and the openness of their life is justified by the important society interest, from the commonly known persons, who are not subjected to such intense public control. The distinction included in court’s ruling is of course of great importance for protection limitations established for such persons.

The protection of personal image/publicity rights is provided in Article 23 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments. This provision outlines the personal image as one of the personal property/interests – an intangible personal right. Furthermore, a person who would like to claim an infringment of his/her rights might also exercise the civil protection of personal image afforded by provisions 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.

Article 81.
1. The dissemination of an image shall require the permission of the person presented in that image. Unless there is a clear reservation, such permission shall not be required if such person has received the agreed price for posing.
2. The permission shall not be required for the dissemination of the image:
1) of a commonly known person, if such image has been made in connection with his/her performance of public functions and, in particular, political, social or professional functions,
2) of a person constituting only a detail of a whole, such as a meeting, a landscape, or a public event.
(…)
Article 83.
The provisions of Article 78, paragraph 1 shall apply respectively to claims brought due to the dissemination of the image of the person presented in it and the dissemination of correspondence without the required permission of the person to whom it was addressed; such claims may not be asserted after the lapse of twenty years from the death of that person.

Additional protection is also provided in the Act of 26 January 1984 on Press Law, the Criminal Code and the Act of 29 August 1997 on Protection of Personal Data. The protection of privacy and publicity may also derive from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997.

Article 47
Everyone shall have the right to legal protection of his private and family life, of his honour and good reputation and to make decisions about his personal life.
(…)
Article 54
1. The freedom to express opinions, to acquire and to disseminate information shall be ensured to everyone.
2. Preventive censorship of the means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited. Statutes may require the receipt of a permit for the operation of a radio or television station.

And, of course, from the European Convention on Human Rights of 4 November 1950.

Criminal law, case P 10/06

December 13th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Constitutional Tribunal in its judgment of 30 October 2006 case file P 10/06, examined the preliminary question referred by a Regional Court in Gdańsk concerning the provision of Articles 212 § 1 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with later amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).
§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

The Regional Court and different NGOs claimed that the sufficient protection against defamation may be realized within the relevant provisions of the civil proceedings, in particular, the system of protection of personal rights/interests, provided in the Civil Code. The Regional Court alleged that the penalization of the defamation limits the constitutional freedom of expression as set forth in Articles 14 and 54 of the Polish Constitution in a way which is not necessary in the democratic State and, therefore, it constitutes a violation of the principle of proportionality, guaranteed in the Article 31(3) of the Constitution.

Article 14
The Republic of Poland shall ensure freedom of the press and other means of social communication.

Article 31
1. Freedom of the person shall receive legal protection.
2. Everyone shall respect the freedoms and rights of others. No one shall be compelled to do that which is not required by law.
3. Any limitation upon the exercise of constitutional freedoms and rights may be imposed only by statute, and only when necessary in a democratic state for the protection of its security or public order, or to protect the natural environment, health or public morals, or the freedoms and rights of other persons. Such limitations shall not violate the essence of freedoms and rights.

Article 54
1. The freedom to express opinions, to acquire and to disseminate information shall be ensured to everyone.
2. Preventive censorship of the means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited. Statutes may require the receipt of a permit for the operation of a radio or television station.

The Constitutional Tribunal did not uphold the aforementioned argumentation and ruled that the challenged provisions of the Criminal Code are in conformity with the constitutional principle of proportionality. The criminal-legal protection of private life and good reputation is necessary in democracy and may not be sufficiently substituted by the civil-legal provisions. Judges Ewa Łętowska, Marek Safjan i Mirosław Wyrzykowski presented dissenting opinions. Those judges focused mainly on the solution adopted in Article 213 § 2 of the CRC.

Article 213. § 1. The offence specified in Article 212 § 1 is not committed, if the allegation not made in public is true.
§ 2. Whoever raises or publicises a true allegation in defence of a justifiable public interest shall be deemed to have not committed the offence specified in Article 212 § 1 or 2; if the allegation regards private or family life the evidence of truth shall only be carried out when it serves to prevent a danger to someone’s life or to prevent demoralisation of a minor.

The Tribunal ruled in favour of the private life and good reputation. Such conclusion is justified in the axiology of Article 30 of the Polish Constitution.

Article 30
The inherent and inalienable dignity of the person shall constitute a source of freedoms and rights of persons and citizens. It shall be inviolable. The respect and protection thereof shall be the obligation of public authorities.

The latter argument, namely the strict link between individuals’ privacy and human dignity, leads to the conclusion that the protection of privacy is in the interest of not only a person whose privacy has been violated, but also in the interest of the entire society. Hence, the protection of privacy and good reputation constitutes the public interest that needs to be taken into consideration in construing the system of anti-defamation protection mechanisms. The Tribunal ruled that defamation is a violation of the human dignity. The obligation of public authorities is to respect and protect human dignity which includes the need to ensure protection against infringement also by private entities. The Constitutional Tribunal transposed the aforementioned argumentation into the field of comparison of the criminal liability, which is aimed at repression, and civil liability, which is aimed – in principle – at compensation.

In the Tribunal’s opinion, the constitutional requirements concerning the protection of privacy and good reputation impose on the legislator the duty to create mechanisms which would take into account not only the need to satisfy the victim of defamation (to compensate his or her harm), but also to the need to underline the social condemnation of such activities. The civil liability fulfils only first of these conditions. That is why there is a necessity – the necessity in a democratic State – to encompass the defamation with the scope of criminal law, since where a certain type of behavior is treated by the legislator as a criminal offence, it signifies that such a behavior constitutes a threat to public interest and not only to the rights and freedoms of victims.

These arguments led the Constitutional Tribunal to the conclusion that the challenged provision of the Criminal Code, penalizing the defamation of a person, does not violate the Constitution.

Personal interests, case I ACr 1013/95

February 21st, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 19 December 1999 case file I ACr 1013/95 held that the reputation of the company is understood as a general positive perception and evaluation of products of such a company that is expressed by the consumers. It may be treated as personal interest/rights of a legal person to which it apply mutatis mutandis, by Articles 23 and 24 f the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
The personal interests of a human being, in particular to health, dignity, freedom, freedom of conscience, surname or pseudonym, image, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of home, and scientific, artistic, inventor’s and rationalizing achievements, shall be protected by civil law independent of protection envisaged in other provisions.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal interests are threatened by someone else’s action, may require the desist of that action, unless it is not illegal. In the event of the infringement one may also require, the person who committed the violation, to fulfill the actions necessary to remove its effects, in particular, to make a statement of the relevant content and appropriate format. According to the conditions laid down in the Code one may also require monetary compensation or payment of an appropriate amount of money for a social purpose indicated.
§ 2 If as the result of a breach of personal interests one has suffered pecuniary prejudice, the aggrieved person may claim compensation based on general principles.
§ 3 The above shall not prejudice the entitlements provided by other regulations, in particular in copyright law and the patent (invention) law.

These non-economic/non-commercial values by which a legal person may operate on the market in accordance with the scope of its business, are also deemed as its personal rights or interests.

Personal interests, case I ACa 560/04

February 10th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 4 November 2004 case file I ACa 560/04 ruled that the company, which in this case was understood as the company name (firm), is often intellectual interest/asset of significant value, which according to the will of the legislature is protected by the law. This is an absolute subjective right which is effective erga omnes, and it’s personal interest/right that is associated with an entrepreneur. The broadest spectrum protection that may be enforced not only in commerce but also may be brought against anyone who is in breach of the interest of entrepreneurs, is provided in Articles 23 and 24 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
The personal interests/rights of a human being, in particular to health, dignity, freedom, freedom of conscience, surname or pseudonym, image, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of home, and scientific, artistic, inventor’s and rationalizing achievements, shall be protected by civil law independent of protection envisaged in other provisions.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal rights are threatened by someone else’s action, may require the desist of that action, unless it is not illegal. In the event of the infringement one may also require, the person who committed the violation, to fulfill the actions necessary to remove its effects, in particular, to make a statement of the relevant content and appropriate format. According to the conditions laid down in the Code one may also require monetary compensation or payment of an appropriate amount of money for a social purpose indicated.

§ 2 If as the result of a breach of personal rights one has suffered pecuniary prejudice, the aggrieved person may claim compensation based on general principles.

§ 3 The above shall not prejudice the entitlements provided by other regulations, in particular in copyright law and the patent (invention) law.

The Court also ruled that if a press title is encroaching a realm of personal property, and if such action violates or threatens the interests of another entrepreneur, the sufferer may exercise his power by seeking civil protection through civil process. There must exist the real apprehensive of an infringements and valid registration for the press title for the effectiveness of such a claim.