Archive for: computer law

Tax law, case I FSK1644/11

August 27th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

A taxpayer who sold the old porcelain and books which were inherited from grandparents and parents, and bought on the antique fairs, was ordered by the Polish tax authorities to pay VAT for four years. Every year the taxpayer sold hundreds of these things, for more than three thousand PLN. Only 3089 PLN is the amount of income received during the year that is deemed as free of tax,. According to tax authorities this activity could not be regarded as a hobby, but as a professional activity, that should be taxed.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 August 2012 case file I FSK 1644/11 dismissed the complaint of the taxpayer.

Consumer protection, case XVII Amc 5817/11

August 26th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection in its judgment of 31 May 2012 case file XVII Amc 5817/11 held that an entrepreneur cannot include in its terms of telecommunication services any regulations and provisions which would release it from the liability for any loss due to lack of customer access to the service provided. Activities that intend to misinformation, confusion, misconception or are directed to exploit ignorance or naivety of the customers and consumers, are contrary to good customs.

Personal interests, case I C 116/12

August 9th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Eryk Schuman wrote an article regarding Klaudiusz Sevkovic who is an alderman of Chorzów city and also the president of the local handball club. This critical piece appeared at dlachorzowa.pl website. According Mr Schuman, the data given in the declaration of interests of the alderman, could indicate that Mr Sevkovic uses the communal property in his private economic activities. Sevkovic filed a suit for the protection of his personal interests. He argued that the article overstated the amount of cash taken from the club. Mr Schuman wrote that the alderman took 275 thousand PLN (Schuman used the abbreviation “tys.” which stands for thousand in Polish) for a contract work. The journalist referred to a statement of financial interests filed by Sevkovic. However, the amount disclosed in the statement was 275 PLN not 275 tys. PLN. Schuman argued that it was an unintentional mistake in the text, and it was corrected immediately after he noticed it. He noted that the goal of the article was to draw attention to irregularities of the activities of alderman. Meanwhile, Sevkovic argued that such false information was visible on at least for two weeks and it was removed only after sending a letter to the editor to request a correction, and to publish an apology, which, however, never appeared on the website.

The District Court in Katowice in its judgment of 6 August 2012 case file I C 116/12 ruled that Eryk Schuman infringed Mr Sevkovic’s personal interest. The Court noted that the article served to undermine the credibility and good name of Sevkovic in the public opinion. The Court did not consider the text in question as a “typographical error”.

E-access to public information, case II SAB/Wa 30/12

August 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish citizen requested a Mayor of the Community to disclose copy of the existing office instructions which are in force in the community. Mayor replied that information covered by the request is available on the Community website. The applicant filed a complaint on the failure to act.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 July 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 30/12 ruled that the public authority has not provided the requested information, because the Mayor had only indicated its source – the online Public Information Bulletin (BIP). According to the Court, the Mayor should also give a direct link, under which the requested information is located. The mere URL to the BIP of the Community, cannot be considered as complying with the request.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Tax law, case I SA/Łd 657/12

August 2nd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its judgment of 29 June 2012 case file I SA/Łd 657/12 held that the agreement that provides the website to use for advertisers is deemed as the unnamed contract and is similar in its provisions to a contract of tenancy as defined in the Article 693 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 693. § 1. By a contract of tenancy, the landlord shall assume the obligation to give a thing to the tenant for use and the collection of fruits for definite or indefinite time, and the tenant shall assume the obligation to pay to the landlord the rent agreed upon.

The Court decided that the income from advertising should be taxed like tenancy contracts or leases, which allows a taxpayer to choose a lump sum settlement on registered revenues.

Personal interests, case I ACa 689/13

August 1st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

FS File Solutions Ltd. is the owner of a popular hosting website chomikuj.pl that allows for hosting different files by using a simple web interface. The Polish Chamber of Books (PCB) is Poland’s publishing industry trade body that found many of its titles available on chomikuj.pl without the permission of copyright holders. The PCB issued negative press and TV statements regarding chomiku.pl policy and business model. The Company sued the PCB for the infringement of its personal interests. FS claimed that by calling it “pirate service” the PCB infringed on its the company name (firm).

The District Court in Warszawa I Civil Chamber in its judgment of 20 February 2013 case file I C 407/12 ruled that PCB did not infringed personal interests of FS. File Solutions filed an appeal.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 October 2013 case file I ACa 689/13 returned the case to the District Court.

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.

Copyright law, case C-128/11

July 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

Personal data protection, case C-461/10

June 7th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 19 April 2012 Case C-461/10 Bonnier Audio AB and Others v Perfect Communication Sweden AB ruled that Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC must be interpreted as not precluding the application of national legislation based on Article 8 of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights which, in order to identify an internet subscriber or user, permits an internet service provider in civil proceedings to be ordered to give a copyright holder or its representative information on the subscriber to whom the internet service provider provided an IP address which was allegedly used in an infringement, since that legislation does not fall within the material scope of Directive 2006/24;

It is irrelevant to the main proceedings that the Member State concerned has not yet transposed Directive 2006/24, despite the period for doing so having expired.

Directives 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) and 2004/48 must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings insofar as that legislation enables the national court seised of an application for an order for disclosure of personal data, made by a person who is entitled to act, to weigh the conflicting interests involved, on the basis of the facts of each case and taking due account of the requirements of the principle of proportionality.

E-access to public information, case II SAB/Lu 10/12

June 4th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Mayor of Opole Lubelskie town to disclose information regarding the fund from the years 2009-2011. The request was sent via e-mail. The Mayor ordered the SLLGO to supplement formal defects of the request and claimed that this form of an electronic document must be signed by the certified electronic signature as referred to in the Polish Act of 17 February 2005 on the Informatization of Entities Performing Public Tasks – IEPPT – (in Polish: ustawa o informatyzacji działalności podmiotów realizujących zadania publiczne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 64, item 565 as amended, and the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments. SLLGO refused to comply and argued that the provisions of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, allows for requesting the disclosure, even verbally, without any formality. The Mayor decided to leave the request without examination. The decision was based on the provisions of Article 64 § 2 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.

Article 64.
§ 1. The application will not be examined if the applicant’s address is not included in the application and it cannot be identified from the data available.
§ 2. If the application does not fulfil the requirements of law, the applicant shall be summoned to correct the defects within 7 days, with a notice advising that failure to comply will result in the application not being examined.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Lublin in its judgment of 20 March 2012 case file II SAB/Lu 10/12 ruled that the Mayor remained inactive and unjustifiably applied the provisions of the APC, therefore, the Court obliged the Mayor to examine the request. The authority that is obliged to disclose public information is not entitled to demand that a request submitted in electronic form has to be signed by any electronic signature. The Court reminded that the intention of the legislature was to unformalize the proceedings for the disclosure of public information, in order to ensure and fulfill the constitutional principle of openness of public life. The API indicates that a request for such information may take any form, and even the person requesting has not to be fully identified.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information” and “E-signatures in Poland“.

E-proceedings law, case III CZP 9/12

May 30th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Toruń requested the Polish Supreme Court to answer the question whether a party of civil proceedings is allowed to file an appeal in form of electronic document. If the answer would be “yes”, the Court also wanted to know whether the deadline for lodging an appeal is confirmed by the date on which the letter was received by the device receiving the court’s e-mails. The District Court additionally enquired, whether such letters can be signed by electronic signature as defined in the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 15 November 2001, No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 23 May 2012 case file III CZP 9/12 held that filing an appeal by e-mail is acceptable only, if a specific provision allows for such action. Currently, this option is very limited in the Polish law. The printed version of an appeal filed by electronic means may be treated as effective, if it will be signed by the party at the request received from the Court, and the date for submission of such a letter to the court is then the date the printing was done.

Access to public information, case XVI K 112/11

May 18th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Grzegorz Pluciński, the CEO of the Polish company Mainframe, filed a private accusation against Andrzej Machnacz who was the Director of the Centre of Information of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration in 2008-2010. It is probably the first case based on the provisions of Article 23 of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23. Whoever, contrary to the obligation weighing on him, shall not make the public information available, is subject to fine, penalty of restricted liberty or penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

Mr Pluciński argued that the Director was obliged to disclose a contract between the Centre and IBM. The sum of the contract was below 38.000 PLN which allowed for its conclusion without meeting the conditions of the Polish Act on Public Procurement. During the trail before the Regional Court for Warszawa Mokotów, the Director argued that the request for disclosure of public information that was filed by Mainframe was worded too broadly and did not relate to this contract. Mr Machnacz also argued that he did not take the refusal decsion, and only accepted suggestions of his employees, and after consultation with outside law firm. However, only two signatures were available under this decision. According to the provisions of Article 16(2) of the API, the justification of the decision on the refusal of making the information available should also include the names, surnames, and these persons’ functions, who took decision under the procedure on making the information available and marking the entities, in relation to whose goods defined in Article 5, it. 2, the decision on the refusal to make information available was issued. The trial has been postponed until June 2012.

Internet domains, case III CSK 120/11

May 15th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

MEDianus sp. z o.o. and Medianus Agencja Reklamowa sp. z o.o. are seated in the same city, at a location nearby. The first one uses medianus.net domain name and the second medianus.pl. The first company was entered in the Register of Business Entities in the National Court Register (KRS) as MEDianus in June 2003 r. The second one was entered in 2009. MEDianus sp. z o.o. filed a complaint, to prohibit the other company to use the name “medianus” in the company name and as a domain name, based on the provisions of Article 3 and 5 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments. MEDianus sp. z o.o. argued the the use of the same company name caused many confusions with delivery of post or invoices.

R-200943

The District Court dismissed all claims. However, the Appellate Court in Kraków agreed with MEDianus sp. z o.o. appeal and ordered Medianus Agencja Reklamowa to change its company name and website and to publish an apology in two national newspapers.

Z-360648

The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file III CSK 120/11 dismissed the complaint filed by Medianus Agencja Reklamowa. The Court held that in order to apply the provisions of Article 5 of the CUC, both companies have to be in competitive relationship. This situation happens when there is a risk of confusion with regard to the identity of entrepreneurs. The Court also confirmed that the so-called cybersquatting is an unnamed delict (tort) under the Polish law on combating unfair competition.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Access to public information, case I OSK 2265/11

May 11th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

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

Copyright law, case C-406/10

May 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

E-access to public information, case I OSK 2172/11

April 20th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 February 2012 case file I OSK 2172/11 dismissed the complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 25 August 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 87/11 in which the court ruled that e-mail correspondence of employees of the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture (ARMA) is not deemed as public information.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Personal data protection, case IX Nc 1850/11

April 14th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Regional Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 2 February 2012 case file IX Nc 1850/11 held that that there was no reason to accept the view that electronic services providers are required to bear costs for rendering information on given data to the state authorities for the needs of legal proceedings carried on by them. Therefore, the court ruled that the Police has to pay to the company that operates social-networking site for gathering and processing requested data and information, according to the specifiaction that was received from the Police.

E-signature law, case II SAB/Łd 35/12

April 11th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish citizen filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court via e-mail, and signed it with the qualified electronic signature. The Court called him to sign the complaint manually, within 7 days under pain of rejection of the complaint. The applicant argued that he already signed it.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its order of 13 March 2012 case file II SAB/Łd 35/12 rejected the complaint. The Court held that the complaint must meet two kinds of requirements. First of all, the complaint must meet all the requirements provided for the letter in court proceedings, and also it has to include an indication of the contested decision, order, or any other act or activity, the indication of an authority or body whose action or inaction is a subjetct of the complaint, the explanation of violation of law or legal interest. As each letter, the complaint should therefore be signed by the party or its legal representative or attorney, according to the provisions of Article 46 § 1 point 4 of the Polish Act of 30 August 2002 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 with subsequent amendments. According to the Court, for the effectiveness of the electronically signed letter it has to be signed manually by the party. Therefore, the signature of the applicant’s letter must be submitted in person, i.e, it has to be a manual sign of a specific person to allow for its identification. An exception to the above mentioned rule, is a provision stating that a letter which can not be signed by a party in person, should be signed by a person authorized by the party. Such a person has to explain the reasons why the party itself did not signed the letter. Failure to sign the complaint within the prescribed period of time means that the applicant did not remove its defects in form, which results in rejection of the complaint by the Court. The VAC noted that its view is confirmed by well-established case law of the administrative courts. See the order of the Supreme Administrative Court of 16 November 2011 case file I OZ 831/11, the order of the SAC of 8 September 2011 case file I OZ 657/11, the order of the SAC of 27 May 2011 case file I OZ 368/11.

See also “E-signature law, case II SA/Gd 573/10“, “E-signature law, case I OPP 25/08” and “E-signatures in Poland“.

Tax law, case II FSK 1548/10

April 2nd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

Personal interest, case I CSK 111/11

March 25th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Cezary Pazura sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of pudelek.pl website. Mr Pazura claimed that the company infringed his dignity, the inviolability of the home, privacy and publicity, by publishing 17 articles that concerned his relationship with Edyta Zajac, then fiancee, and now his wife. He argued that comments like “his mistress was no longer pretending, what she meant?”, “oldish playboy” were clear examples of the infringement. The District Court agreed with Mr Pazura, but Grupa o2 appealled, and the Appellate Court reversed the contested judgment and dismissed the suit. Mr Pazura filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 14 December 2011 case file I CSK 111/11 repealed the contested decision and returned it to the Appellate Court for further reconsideration. The Court held that the public status of a person does not automatically mean that his or her private life becomes also a “public life”. The Court clarified the understanding of the provision of Article 14(6) 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.

It is not allowed to publish information and data concerning the private sphere of life without the consent of the person concerned, unless it is connected directly with the public activity of such a person.

The Court ruled that in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the relationship between the public activity carried out by Mr Pazura, and published image, or private information that was published on pudelek.pl website. Therefore, it had to be a relationship between a person’s behavior in the public sphere. In addition, the disclosure of such information should serve to protect specific, socially legitimate interest. Therefore, the primary task of the courts was to determine whether in this case, Mr. Pazura’s consent was granted, or whether it was not needed at all.

Criminal law, case XI W 1497/11/P

March 15th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The publisher of histmag.org website requested its users to donate money via PayPal or similar services, in order to raise funds for the functioning of this history site. An anonymous user made ​​a complaint to the former Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, now Ministry of Interior, claiming that this action constituted an illegal public money collection, which is prohibited according to the provisions of Article 56 § 1 of the Polish Code of Offences – PCO – (in Polish: Kodeks wykroczeń) of 20 May 1971, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 1971 No 12, item 114, with subsequent amendments.

Whoever, without the required permit or in violation of its conditions, organizes, or holds a public collection of donations, shall be subject to a fine.

According to the Polish Act of 5 March 1933 on Public Collections, any public collections of donations in cash or in kind, for a pre-determined goal, requires prior authorization from the authority. This permit should be granted as an administrative decision. The Regional Court in Kraków in its warrant ruling found the publisher guilty. The publisher filed objections to this judgment.

The Regional Court for Kraków-Podgórze in Kraków, Wydział XI Karny in its judgment of 6 February 2012 case file XI W 1497/11/P acquitted the publisher of any charges. The court ruled that the public collection was conducted by receiving direct wire transfers or via PayPal. The provisions of the PCO and the definition of public collection included in the Act on Public Collections refers to public collections of cash or in kind, and are not applicable to electronic transfers.

Database protection, case C‑604/10

March 13th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 1 March 2012 Case C-604/10 Football Dataco Ltd and Others v Yahoo! UK Ltd and Others held that Article 3(1) of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases must be interpreted as meaning that a ‘database’ within the meaning of Article 1(2) of that directive is protected by the copyright laid down by that directive provided that the selection or arrangement of the data which it contains amounts to an original expression of the creative freedom of its author, which is a matter for the national court to determine. As a consequence:
– the intellectual effort and skill of creating that data are not relevant in order to assess the eligibility of that database for protection by that right;
– it is irrelevant, for that purpose, whether or not the selection or arrangement of that data includes the addition of important significance to that data, and
– the significant labour and skill required for setting up that database cannot as such justify such a protection if they do not express any originality in the selection or arrangement of the data which that database contains.
The Court also ruled that the Directive 96/9 must be interpreted as meaning that, subject to the transitional provision contained in Article 14(2) of that directive, it precludes national legislation which grants databases, as defined in Article 1(2) of the directive, copyright protection under conditions which are different to those set out in Article 3(1) of the directive.

Personal interest, case III C 202/09

March 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Arnold Buzdygan sued Agora S.A. the owner and publisher of kobieta.gazeta.pl website, claiming that the company infringed his personal interest by publishing an online article entitled “Trolls – Internet’s vexatious personas” in which his name was mentioned. The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 December 2011 case file III C 202/09 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the criteria of the infringement of personal interests should be based on objective rather than subjective circumstances that usually arise from the feelings of the person concerned. The objective response of public opinion is more important in such case. The Court noted that Mr Buzdygan is a public person whose opinions and statements were subject to criticism by other users. Such negative comments were directed to his activities and comments posted on the Internet, and not directly against him.

See also “Computer crime, case V K 1595/08” and “Personal interest, case I ACa 949/09“.

Copyright law, case C-360/10

February 22nd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 16 February 2012 Case C-360/10 Belgische Vereniging van Auteurs, Componisten en Uitgevers CVBA (SABAM) v Netlog NV ruled that 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), Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the in formation society, and Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, read together and construed in the light of the requirements stemming from the protection of the applicable fundamental rights, must be interpreted as precluding a national court from issuing an injunction against a hosting service provider which requires it to install a system for filtering:
– information which is stored on its servers by its service users;
– which applies indiscriminately to all of those users;
– as a preventative measure;
– exclusively at its expense; and
– for an unlimited period,
which is capable of identifying electronic files containing musical, cinematographic or audio-visual work in respect of which the applicant for the injunction claims to hold intellectual property rights, with a view to preventing those works from being made available to the public in breach of copyright.

Procedural law, case I CSK 138/08

January 17th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 5 November 2008 case file I CSK 138/08 dismissed a cassation complaint in case related to tangible property, however the Court also decided on issues related to digital evidence. The Supreme Court found that the Appeallate Court erred in law by not admitting and refusing to assess evidence of computer printouts submitted to the case by the defendant. The Court did not agree with the opinion that prints do not meet the requirements of documents and thus can not be considered as evidence in the process. Even if unsigned computer printouts are not considered as a document within the meaning of provisions of Article 244 and 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, it should be considered that the CPC does not contain 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, if it is not contrary to law. Therefore, the Appeallate Court should allow to submit such evidence based on the provisions of Article 308 of the CPC. This provision refers to evidence other than as expressly set out in the CPC, and the same may also apply to computer printouts.

Criminal law, case II Ka 269/11

November 14th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Maria S. was charged by the Prosecutor based on the provisions of Article 278 § 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 278. § 1. Whoever, with the purpose of appropriating, wilfully takes someone else’s movable property shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.

§ 2. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who without the permission of the authorised person, acquires someone else’s computer software, with the purpose of gaining material benefit.

Such situation happened because, during the investigation, the Police found on her laptop two shareware programs Win ZIP 8.1 and Win Rar 3.0. This software was valued 113,89 PLN each, and the period of time to buy a license already expired. Maria S. explained that she wasn’t aware that she had illegal software installed. She argued that both programs were installed by computer service technicians during the repair of her laptop. This statement was confirmed by a witness expert testimony. The expert said that both programs were installed at the same time, when the operating system was also configured. The expert noted that this is typical practice of computer services personnel who install software needed to install other programs, and do not remove it after the completion of repairing. At the time of installation of both programs, they were legal.

The Regional Court in Biłgoraj acquitted Maria S. of all charges. The Court found that she did not act in order to gain material benefits and she had no full awareness that her behavior lead to the obtainment of computer programs without the consent of the person entitled. The Prosecutor appealed. He argued that Maria S. was guilty because she wasn’t careful enough, and she did not buy both licenses immediately.

The District Court in Zamość in its judgment case file II Ka 269/11 upheld the verdict. The Court ruled that issues of normal or increased diligence or care that should appear in case of expired trial or shareware software, do not belong to the category of the constituent elements of the alleged offense.

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.

Criminal law, case III K 76/08

October 28th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2007, Marek Witoszek wrote SEO software that allowed him to change the visibility ranking of a website of the Polish president Lech Kaczyński in search engines, when one of the Polish offensive words was typed in. He was prosecuted and charged based on the provisions of the Article 135 § 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 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 trial has been suspended for two years, because the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal was expected to answer the question, whether one can be punished for insulting the president as an institution, not as a person. The Constitutional Tribunal in its judgment of 6 July 2011 case file P 12/09 held that Article 135 § 2 of the CRC is consistent with Article 54(1) of the Polish Constitution in connection with Article 31(3) of the Constitution and Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, as amended. Mr Witoszek pleaded guilty and has requested a voluntary submission to punishment.

The District Court in Bielsko-Biała in its judgment of 25 October 2011 case file III K 76/08 sentenced Mr Witoszek for three months of imprisonment, and conditionally suspended the execution of a penalty for three years.

E-access to public information, case IV SA/Gl 1002/11

October 14th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A journalists requested one of the Polish companies to disclose information about the earnings of its directors (CEOs) and members of the supervisory board. He also wanted to know how many prizes, bonuses and other financial inducements were received by the CEO and the board members in the last three years, and how much the company has spent on advertising and promotion, how much spending and subsidies were distributed for non-governmental organizations, staff training, banquets and small meetings. He also demanded the indication of dates, names and amounts, the method of selecting contractors. This request was based on the provisions of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The journalist noted that the expected response should be sent to him via e-mail. The company provided information only on salaries, and refused to disclose other information that was subject to the request. The decision has been sent in the form of an electronic document to an e-mail address provided by a journalist. The company noted that other information belong to the category of “processed information”, therefore, the applicant has to indicate why the disclosure of such information is particularly important for the public interest. The journalist filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gliwice in its judgment of 19 September 2011 case file IV SA/Gl 1002/11 rejected it, because of procedural reasons. However, the VAC held that the administration decision issued in the form of an electronic document must be signed by a secure electronic signature that is verifiable by a valid qualified certificate. The administrative decision that does not meet these requirements can not be regarded as signed, and therefore is not valid according to the provisions of Article 14 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.

Article 14. Principle of written proceedings
§ 1. All matters shall be disposed of in writing or in the form of an electronic document as defined in the Act of 17 February 2005 on Informatization of Operation of Entities Performing Public Tasks (Journal of Laws No. 64, item 565, as ammended), to be served by means of electronic communication.

The VAC also noted that in this case the decision has not been delivered in the proper form.

Article 110.
The public administration body issuing the decision shall be bound by it from the time of its service or publication, unless the Code provides otherwise.

Although in this case the content of the decision was known but it was not delivered in the form provided in the provisions of the APC. The decision was in fact delivered in writing but it was served by electronic means and in a way that was inconsistent with the provisions of APC, which could not be considered as effective service.

See also “E-signature law, case II SA/Gd 573/10“, “E-signature law, case I OPP 25/08“, “E-signatures in Poland“, and “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Tax law, case I SA/Łd 762/10

September 24th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its judgment of 23 September 2010 case file I SA/Łd 762/10 held that a person whose account on an auction website was illegally hacked and used for sale of goods by someone else, is not obliged account to tax for such activity.