Archive for: media law

Copyright law, case I ACa 787/11

December 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Stan Borys is a Polish singer and author of the lyrics to the song “Chmurami zatańczy sen”, which was composed in 1974. A longer excerpt from the chorus “Ciemno juz zgasły wszstkie światła, ciemno już, noc nadchodzi głucha” has been used by Ryszard Andrzejwski, a Polish raper called PEJA as a sample in his song “Głucha noc” which was recorded in 2001 and released by his publisher T1-Teraz sp. z o.o. on two albums in 2001 and 2002. These albums were distributed by EMI Music Poland. The sampled part was transformed by changing the voice octave and by increasing the music tempo. The song became a hit that was aired in radio and television stations.

CT Creative Team S.A. sells multimedia content to mobile phones based on SMS and WAP technology using Premium Rate numbers. On 26 August 2003 the company entered a license agreement with T1-Teraz for distribiution of short fragments of songs recorded by PEJA. This also included 30 seconds of “Głucha noc”. These music pieces were uploaded to CT Creative MEdia server. CT was obliged to pay 0,15 PLN for each downloaded fragment, the payment followed within 14 days after the end of each calendar quarter. CT was also required to provide an additional statement containing the information on songs/fragments used together with the original titles, numbers of downloads and numbers of fees charged. A year later the two companies signed an similar agreement with a fee 0.,5 PLN per downloaded song. In the period from September 2003 to October 2005, this song has been downloaded 859 times as a phone ringtone and CT earned 3465 PLN.

Stan Borys found out about this song in 2004. To his surprise, he was informed at the press conference, held together with PEJA. Resentful of this situation, he explained that he did not consent to the use of his song by PEJA. His attorney requested the CT Creative to stop distribution of the song and the ring tone was withdrawn. Stan Borys sued CT, T1-Teraz, and Ryszard Andrzejewski.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 September 2010 case file I C 626/06 held most of the claims were justified. The Court ruled that the fragment used by PEJA by its transformation constitutes a derived work made from the work of Stan Borys. The manner of disposal of the derived work and the use thereof should be subject to the consent of the creator of the original work (the so-called dependent copyright), except where the economic rights in the original work have expired. Stan Borys is entitled to protection of his moral and economic rights. The court disagreed with the argument that the license agreement allows for the free dissemination of the work as specified in the agreement. The obligation to indicate the creator of the original song is saddled with both the creator of derived work (if one does not do that he or she risks the charges of plagiarism) and that one who distributes a derived work. The Court cited the judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 14 March 2006 case file VI ACa 1012/05. See “Copyright law, case VI ACa 1012/05“.

The court found that the lack of consent on the creation of a sample and dissemination of the work and the lack of designation of the author of the original work is the evidence of unlawful infringement of copyright and the rights to artistic performance by the CT Creative. In the assessment of the Court, the infringement was culpable in the form of at least negligence because it was associated with lack of diligence in examining whether distributed ringtones are not other people’s songs/works and such an obligation results from the professional nature of CT Creative’s business. However, intentional guilt can be attributed to CT Creative from 12 September 2005 when the company received a corresponding letter from Stan Bory’s attorney.

The court ruled that as a result of CT actions Stan Borys was deprived of possibility to exercise his rights of supervision over the use of the work, authorship rights and rights to cause the work to appear under his name and surname. The court also took into account the form in which the infringement has occurred. Stan Borys claimed that this violation was for him the more severe because the fragment of “Chmurami zatańczy sen” has been distorted in a caricature way and it was used in hip hop song, which included obscene words. Stan Borys did not and does not want to have nothing in common with this genre of music. The Court agreed with the argument that creating this sample in this given form depreciated previous works of Stan Borys. The court held that there is a causal link between the activities of CT Creative and the harm and damage caused to Stan Borys. This applied both to his personal rights (intangible) and economic rights to the copyrighted work because he did not receive any remuneration for the distribution of. The court ordered the cessation of the use and distribution of the work and ordered to pay 15000 PLN for the infringement of personal rights and 10000 PLN for the infringement of economic rights and rights in performance (three times of the equitable remuneration, which at the time of the enforcement would be payable to the entitled person for granting the permission for the use of the work), and to publish an apology.

CT Creative appealed. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file I ACa 787/11 reversed the sum of compensation and send the case back for reconsideration.

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

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.

Tax law, case III SA/Wa 1823/09

May 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Director of Tax Control Office in Warsaw ruled that the amounts of cash referred to as a “license to exercise the media rights” that were received by Legia football club from the Polish Football Association (PZPN), should be subject to tax on goods and services. Legia argued that such an agreement is not a contract of sale of rights, but the license agreement. However, the Director has found that the PZPN was the sole owner of intangible (economic and non econimic) property rights to the Polish national championships. To be the sole owner of the rights to football matches, PZPN had to acquire these rights. Therefore, Legia had to transfer these rights in some way, and that included proper fee.

The Director referred to a series of court decisions and pointed out that the sports’ event, namely football games, do not constitute a copyrightable work under the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 90, item 631. Legia as a football club does not take action on the creative nature. In the opinion of the Director, it is not precluded that on the legal market may exist licensing agreements relating to intangible property, other than works that are defined in the ARNR.

Only article 43(1) pt 13 of the Act on Goods and Services Tax – GSTA – (in Polish: ustawa o podatku od towarów i usług) of 11 March 2004, Journal od Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 54, item 535, includes a reference to the ARNR.

Art. 43. 1. The following shall be exempted from the tax:
13) licensing or authorization to use a license, as well as assignment of the proprietary right within the meaning of the copyright law – in relation to computer programmes – free of charge, for educational facilities, referred to in paragraph 9.

That provision indicates the grant of the license or authorization to use copyright licenses and the transfer of property rights under copyright law (the ARNR). The absence of such references in other regulations means that the transfer of copyright may affect the rights of the author, or a sole owner of any intangible property, which does not have the characteristics of the copyrightable work. A similar situation will occur in the case of a license. Wherever there is no reference to copyright law (ARNR) it will also mean the license agreement for the use of intangible property other than the copyrightable work.

The Tax Office ruled that Legia transfered “media rights” to the PZPN, so the Association could fully manage of them, and so enter into an agreement concerning the disposition of such rights. The rate of the tax shall be 22% for such service. The tax shall become chargeable upon the receipt of all or part of payment, though not later than upon the expiry of the due date specified in the contract or invoice – for the performance in the territory of the country of services referred to in article 27(4) pt 1 of the GSTA.

4. The provision of paragraph 3 shall apply to the following services:
1) sale of rights or granting of licenses or sublicenses, transfers and assignments of copyrights, patents, trademarks, letting joint trademarks or joint guarantee marks for use, or other related rights.

Legia did not agree with the decision of the Director of Tax Control Office and filed a complaint against. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 March 2010 case file III SA/Wa 1823/09 dismissed it.

Copyright law, case I CSK 160/09

January 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

In 2006 the national football team participated voluntarily in a photo shoot. All players were duly informed as to what purposes the pictures would serve, and how they would be used. However, no formal consent forms were signed. The players did not sign any Representative’s Cards (which explicitly stated the player’s obligation to participate in events such as i.e. the photo session in question) either. Additionally, none of the players received any remuneration for the photo session. And that’s what’s most problematic in this case. Pursuant to article 81 of the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments, the right to disseminate the image of a person does not require the consent of that person (unless explicitly stated otherwise) if that person had received an agreed to remuneration.

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

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

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

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

Press law, case I ACr 159/92

July 28th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 2 April 1992 case file I ACr 159/92 held that the name of a newspaper/gazette differentiates such periodical in the course of trade and thus it is deemed as 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.

Press law, case I CKN 1344/00

June 28th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 24 October 2002 case file I CKN 1344/00 held that the current Polish legal system of registration of newspapers’ titles is not a pure system of notification, because it requires the registration court to consider the interest of both publisher and readers during the registration process, therefore, the registration process include some elements of control, but which does not violate the principle of freedom of the press. The Court deliberated on the provisions of Article 21 of 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.

A registrar body shall deny the registration if:
[1] the application does not contain data that the Act describes (the daily newspaper’s or the periodical’s title, the seat of the publisher and the exact address of the editorial office, the particulars of the editor-in-chief, the particulars of the publisher, the frequency of publishing of the daily newspaper or the periodical) and

[2] if granting registration would constitute infringement of the right to the legal protection of an existing press title.

According to the Court, the provision of providing the protection of an existing press title, was introduced not only because of the interests of a publisher, but also in the interest of readers, allowing them to select and buy a title, which they actually want to.

Press law, case V CKN 1040/00

June 21st, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in the order of 13 June 2002, case file V CKN 1040/00, held that the Registration Court which operates the Registry of titles of newspapers and periodicals shall not be entitled to settle the dispute over who is the publisher and who has the rights to the title of the press.