Archive for: image

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 interest, case I CSK 542/13

September 17th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Leszek Czarnecki and his wife Jolanta Pieńkowska sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of pudelek.pl website. Mr Czarnecki claimed that articles posted on this website infringed his personal interests by publishing information about social status and a new home, which was built on a grand scale.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 October 2011 case file IV C 1639/10 found the publisher guilty. The court held that the content of articles undermined the prestige of the spouses as they are people commonly known, reputable and rich. The Court ruled that the amount of compensation is up to 200.000 PLN, because, as the judge assessed the higher the prestige of imputed persons is, the higher should be the economic sanction.

Grupa o2 appealed. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file VI ACa 73/12 ordered owners of both sites to issue an apology but reduced the amount awarded, and ruled that the company has to pay 20.000 PLN for social purpose. Both parties filed cassation complaints.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 12 September 2014 case file I CSK 542/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned the case for further reconsideration. The reasons were based on procedural grounds. It turned out that the Appeallate court has assessed the evidence, but it did not find its own conclusions. The Court also did not rule on the relationship between comments posted by Internet users and the provisions of Polish Act on Providing Services by Electronic Means that exclude the liability of the ISPs.

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 interests, case I C 327/11

August 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The case concerned class’ photos of 32 children. Such photos were placed on a social networking site naszaklasa.pl. The black and white pictures were taken between the years 1972-1980, in a public space, i.e. a public education institution. Most of them were photos of the class as a whole, not each individual student. One person who was shown in this picture demanded its removal. The administrator of a website refused. The case went through all stages of administrative proceedings, and the person concerned decided to initiate a civil suit. The plaintiff demanded an apology in the media, 20.000 PLN compensation and the payment of 50.000 PLN for a social purpose, from the owner of naszaklasa.pl

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 10 May 2013 case file I C 327/11 dismissed the suit. The Court ruled that the person seeking for the protection of his or her image has to prove that such image was published and is recognizable. It results from identification of information features of an image. Moreover, the image should be recognized not only by the person concerned, but also by third parties. The image of the plaintiff contained in the pictures was not fully recognized even his colleagues from the former primary school, as evidenced by comments on the website. Publishing of any informational or shooting materials on the website only provides the opportunity to look at such meterial by others, but this does not mean automatically that such information reached to an unlimited number of people, and consequently, that information was widespread. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 February 2010 case file V CSK 269/09 (published in: OSNC 2010/9/127) held data published on the web are not deemed as well-known/widespread data. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 27 February 2003 case file IV CKN 1819/00 (published in: OSP 2004/6/75) held that the infringement of the image of the individual occurs when it was published without the consent of the person in the photograph and while it allows for the identification of that person.

Constitutional law, case Pp 1/10

May 21st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 18 December 2009, the National Rebirth of Poland (NOP), a nationalist political party, requested the District Court in Warsaw to enter changes in the Register of Political Parties (RPP) with regard to address and its members, and to register new additional figurative symbols associated with this party. The Court had doubts, whether applied symbols were consistent with the principles of the Polish Constitution which say that the existence of political parties and other organizations whose programmes are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of Nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programmes or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the State policy, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership, should be prohibited. The District Court requested the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether goals, rules and activities of the NOP that are resulting from the change of symbols, are in accordance with the Constitution.

The Constitutional Tribunal in its order of 6 April 2011 case file Pp 1/10 with fice dissenting opinions, decided to discontinue the proceedings, and ruled that it cannot decide on the merits of the case, because there was lack of evidence, and the District Court was required to examine if the applied signs contain fascist symbolism. However, the Tribunal emphasized that such circumstances cannot be presumed, because of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of association and freedom of expression and speech.

The District Court was bound by the interpretation, and therefore requested the additional materials, together with the expert opinions on whether applied signs contain clear symbolic that is racist, totalitarian, fascist or Nazi. The linguist and historian experts issued an opinion in which they declared that the symbol of the crowned eagle with a cross, with the lictors’ rods and ax, was first seen in the Ancient Rome, and this symbol does not involve a specific message. The party emphasizes a strong role of state and refers to the Imprerium Romanum. Fasces are only a small part of the whole symbol, so as such it has quite a different meaning. For instance, fasces are included in the modern coat of arms of France and USA. It would be difficult to accuse both states of promoting fascism. The Celtic cross symbolized the sun, but it was also accepted by the Church as one of the cross symbols, and by choosing this symbol, NOP refers to the Slavic, and even Catholic and Polish and National themes. The experts noted that the symbol stylized as a road sign indicates the prohibition of homosexual acts in public places, which is consistent with generally accepted morality. The Court repeated after the experts that it would be too social sensed to look for additional symbolic and meanings. Experts said that the sign is just tasteless and vulgar and violates the principles of etiquette, but it does not promote any prohibited content. The symbol of the Cross and Sword is the signs associated with the Knightly Order of the Cross and the Sword – Polish secret organization of Catholic and moral values, established at the end of the Second Polish Republic and active at the first years of German occupation. Experts decided that all the sign act as self-identification of members of a political party rather than promote illegal content.

The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 25 October 2011 case file VIII Ns Rej Ew Pzm 77/09 did not find any legal obstacles to register all the applied signs. Professor Irena Lipowicz, the Polish Ombudsman, and the District Prosecutor Office in Warsaw both appealed. The Ombudsman argued, inter alia, that the expert opinion was not clear, coherent and complete. The Prosecutor noted that there were procedural issues. Prof. Lipowicz argued that the Polish Act on Political Parties provides that a party is allowed to apply and register only one graphic/figurative element that would serve as the identification symbol for its voters, analogously as consumers of commercial products available on the market. Such a symbol will acquire protection similar to this afforded for personal interests. Granting of such legal protection, which does not serve as an identification of a political party, but is the manifestation of expression on other participants in social life, would lead to blockage of public debate. Such protection would also have a chilling effect on freedom of speech.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw decided that a political party cannot register more than one graphic symbol. The District Court in its order of 17 April 2012 ruled that it cannot enter additional symbols into the Register of Political Parties because NOP has already registered a number of other signs such as the so-called phalanx (the symbol of a hand with sword), and their excess would impede the statutory requirement of the recognition of the political party. Undoubtedly, these judgments met with strong criticism because of the lack of a clear opinion on hate speech. Basing the decision on the argument for the registration of only one symbol was somehow an “escape” by the Courts to decide on the most important principles of a democratic state.

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.

Personal interest, case II SA/Wa 364/11

October 13th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On January 2010, a couple of entries signed by the nick “arfulik” appeared on few Polish websites. The author wrote critically about the company Bavaria Consulting and a person who is a member of the board. It seemed that this unknown author conducted a competitive activity. Bavaria and Krystiana D. decided to sue for the infringement of personal interest. They needed personal data of a person who wrote questioned comments. Telekomunikacja Polska (TP), one of the largest ISPs, refused to provide such information, referring to the telecommunications confidentiality included in the Article 159 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. Allegedly slandered filed a complaint to the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO). The GIODO ordered the disclosure the personal data but he overturned this decision after TP filed a request for reconsideration. The GIODO decided that such information is subject to the telecommunications confidentiality and found no reason to disclose it. The offended persons lodged a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 October 2011 case file II SA/Wa 364/11 dismissed it, and ruled that the intention of bringing action against the author of a forum post or comment is not a sufficient condition to disclose personal data. One has to file a suit for protection of personal interest. Only then, a court in order to avoid procedural deficiency, will summon the telecommunications operator to disclose personal data of the author of the questioned post.

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

Personal interests, case I CSK 743/10

October 8th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment case file I CSK 743/10 ruled that if the newspaper, which lost a case for protection of personal interests and was ordered to publish an apology in the paper version, has also an online edition, then such a newspaper should also place a reference to apologies for this publication in its online archive.

Personal interest, case I ACz 462/11

June 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish Internet user has started a Facebook account in which he accused a travel agency Alfa Star from Radom of dishonesty and presented bad reviews of its services. Other Facebook users also started to post negative comments. The travel agency filed a suit for protection of personal interest together with the injunction to delete the Facebook account along with all the comments until the final decision in the case is rendered. The District Court in Radom granted the injunctive relief. Bartosz C. filed a complaint against this decision. The Appellate Court in Lublin in its order of 30 May 2011 case file I ACz 462/11 reversed the injunction. The Court noted that although the company has shown its interest in granting the injunction, it also seek this way to satisfy all claims included in the suit. If, before the end of the proceeding, the company would obtain the injunction to remove an account, this would actually satisfy its claims. The Court noted that the injunction should be granted to the extent that the plaintiff is afforded the adequate legal protection, and the defendant it not burden more than it’s needed. Facebook allows for the deactivation of an account and such injunction should be considered by the District Court as adequate injunction.

Personal interest, case I C 1050/09

June 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Paweł Wodniak, journalist of the website “Fakty Oświęcim” was sued by Artur Kierczyński for violation of his personal interest. Mr Wodniak prepared a short video report in which presented testimonials of Broszkowice citizens, who participated in blocking the road 933 in a protest against a nearby gravel-pit from being functional. The report also contained footage of Marian Gołąb, who was the Mayor of Broszkowice, stating that there is already a criminal investigation underway on the ex-owner of the gravel-pit. Mr Gołąb released full name of Artur Kierczyński. Mr Kierczyński sued for violation of personal interest for releasing his full surname while there was an ongoing criminal trial against him. In his opinion, Mr Wodniak’s behavior breached the rule of alleged innocence and it was a breach of Article 13(2) 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.

One cannot publish in the media personal information and images of individuals, against whom there is an ongoing preparatory proceedings or court proceeding as well as personal information and images of witnesses, wounded and hurt, unless these persons agree to it.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment case file I C 1050/09 dismissed the lawsuit. The Court ruled that a news report that merely mentions an individual’s involvement in a criminal proceeding does not constitute a violation of the above mentioned regulations on Press Law, the rule of innocence, or journalism ethics.

Personal interest, case I ACa 544/10

March 22nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A critical article was published in a paper magazine entitled “Forum Akademickie”. It concerned one of the scientist from the University of Opole. Some offensive comments appeared also at magazine’s online forum. These entries were removed after the administrator received a notice from the researcher. There was another offensive entry published on 30 November 2008, but on the same day it has been removed by a site administrator. The researcher sued the editor for allowing for the publication of inaccurate and defamatory comments which in consequence infringed on his personal interests. The District Court in Lublin dismissed the claim as unjustified. The Court held that according to regulations included in Article 14 and 15 of the PSEM the defendants cannot be held responsible because they prevented the access to questioned data/entries. The plaintiff appealed.

The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 544/10 held that defendants should be held liable because they provided a website that was used for discussion and exchange of different views and they posted also a warning message about the moderation or deletion of entries that will not fit for certain rules, although according to the Court they were not obliged to do so, but they also employed for this purpose a person whose duty included monitoring the entries and the removal of those that were posed not in accordance with law and social norms. Therefore, The Court ruled that defendants had knowledge of illegal entries. As a result, they were responsible for failing to remove them without delay and to do so only after many months, at the request of the plaintiff.

The Court ordered the defendants (the editor of the magazine and its publisher) to publish under the article the statement of apology and to pay jointly 5.000 PLN to charity. The judgement is not final.

Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1212/10

February 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The case of Tomasz W. and his image treated as personal data still continues. See “Personal data protection, case I OSK 667/09“. GIODO annulled its earlier decision, however it also refused to take account Tomasz W. requests in its new decision. GIODO ruled that personal data (photos and captions) of Tomasz W. are not presented on the website, and are not publicly available because they were removed from the specified address. GIODO also noted that Nasza-Klasa is still processing the personal data treating it as evidence, because it keeps them on its servers and in the system’s memory. GIODO finally held that the Company, as controller, is processing these data under provisions of Article 23(1)(v) of the PPD, under which such the processing of data is permitted because it is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller and that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject. Among the reasons justifying the data processing, GIODO mentioned the possibility of establishing the responsibility of the recipient for violations of the Terms of Service that were set by the Company. This judgment is not final yet. GIODO filed a cassation complaint.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 1 December 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1212/10 ruled that, these circumstances do not fulfill the conditions for legitimate interests of data processing. It should be noted that the condition relates to the existing and unquestionable situation, so if there is a need to demonstrate a need to claim in business, not a situation where the data are processed for eventual trial and the possible need to prove that personal data obtained without the consent of the person concerned shall be processed in accordance with the law. The Court also noted that Tomasz W. only announced but he did not initiate any courts proceedings against Nasza-Klasa. Therefore, according to the Court, Nasza-Klasa was not allowed to process personal data only to protect itself against any future and uncertain claims mentioned by Tomasz W. Otherwise, there are doubts how long to process personal data if Tomasz W. fails to comply with his announcement.

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

Press law, case I CSK 664/09

November 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2001, the Polish magazine “Polityka” published the article entitled “Po pierwsze Sandauer”. The author quoted a surgeon, who operated Adam Sandauer, the president of Primum Non Nocere association, in which he had said that instead of more surgery Mr Sandaur needed a psychiatrist. The author quoted other doctors, who spoke about Sandauer being in conflict with the medical community and suggested that he is in bad mental condition. He quoted passages of Sandauer’s private mail to confirm this statement. Mr Sandauer sued and the case went through all instances. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 17 listopada 2010 case file I CSK 664/09 held that publication of private correspondence without the permission of the author, and especially when it concerns the sphere of his or her private life, such as health, is unlawful.

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.

Personal interest, case I C 144/10

August 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish citizen filed a civil suit against Nasza Klasa company – the owner and operator of social networking website. He seek an apology and a payment for the infringement of his personal interest by the fact that Nasza Klasa refused to provide the plaintiff with personal data of the person who set up a fake profile, and allowed for the creation of such a profile, which was finally closed after several unsuccessful requests.

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection in its decision of 5 March 2010 ordered Nasza Klasa to provide the plaintiff with information (full name, address, e-mail and IP address of a computer) of the person who set up the profile of the YYY number on nasza-klasa.pl website, ordering at the same time, to fulfill the obligation referred to in Article 33(1) 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.

Article 33
1. At the request of the data subject, within the period of 30 days, the controller shall be obliged to notify the data subject about his/her rights, and provide him/her with the information referred to in Article 32 paragraph 1 point 1-5a as regards his/her personal data, and in particular specify in an intelligible form:
1) the category of personal data contained in the file,
2) the means of data collection,
3) the purpose and the scope of data processing,
4) the recipients of the data and the scope of access they have been granted.

While executing this decision Nasza Klasa informed the plaintiff that the fictional profile was set up on behalf of a person of a first name “s d.”, the second name “w. I’m gay”, having e-mail address xyz@wp.pl. At the same time the company informed the plaintiff that it has no data with regard to IP addresses from which the profiles are set on its website, these data are not collected, and kept or archived. However, as it was also clear from the order of the District Court in Poznań of 16 June 2010 on an ongoing parallel criminal proceedings that Nasza Klasa provided the Police with the IP number, host and e-mail address of the person who has registered this fictitious profile containing personal information of the plaintiff.

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 23 July 2010 case file I C 144/10 ruled that the way that Nasza Klasa has executed the decision bears hallmarks of malignancy, where the repetition of the contents of the fake profile certainly violated the plaintiff’s dignity. The Court noted also that the activity of Nasza Klasa which allows its users for the opening of online accounts, including fictitious accounts does not have the characteristics of illegality. Therefore, the plaintiff was not allowed to infer the responsibility of Nasza Klasa, because during the use of legal mechanisms, there was an infringement of his personal interests. In other words, the illegal nature has only the act of the direct infringer – an unknown person who registered fictional profile on nasza-klasa.pl website, that was containing personal information of the plaintiff, including his image, in the context of information insulting him.

The mere creation of a registration/login mechanism within defendant’ hosting services, without any specific negligence in the performance of duties imposed by law cannot justify the defendant’s liability for the infringement of personal rights of the plaintiff. According to the Court such reasoning would justify shifting the liability of the direct offender of personal right to the hosting service provider.

The Court held that Nasza Klasa committed a violation of personal rights by refusing to grant the plaintiff an access to personal data of the person who set up a fake profile infringing on his personal interest and being opprobrious to his identity, despite the fact that the plaintiff was entitled to obtain it, which was confirmed by final decision of the GIODO. The Court ruled that Nasza Klasa company as a professional hosting provider, which created and maintains a social networking website – in accordance with its TOS – should be aware of how the decision of Inspector General for Personal Data Protection should be executed. Moreover, Nasza-Klasa was aware of the circumstances of the plaintiff’s case, which lasted almost a year. At that time, the plaintiff has shown a determination to assert his rights, despite the fact that without a personal data of the offender, has repeatedly been put in a kind of a hopeless situation, not only by law enforcement, but also by Nasza-Klasa company. Since Nasza-Klasa did not have the name of the person who registered the fictitious profile with the data of the plaintiff, it shall inform the plaintiff and explain the problem and execute the decision of the GIODO with regard to available data (IP, e-mail address of the perpetrator). Nasza Klasa decided to file an appeal complaint. The Appelatte Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 18 Nobember 2010 case file I ACa 1129/10 reversed the previous judgment and dismissed the suit.

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“.

Personal interest, case VI ACa 1402/09

July 16th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 15 July 2010 case file VI ACa 1402/09 held that even if a website only republishes articles or summaries of works published in major periodicals, it is not absolved from responsibility for infrigement of personal interests of a person who was described in such an article.

Personal rights, case I ACa 572/11

June 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 18 January 2010, Michał Okonek, the owner of MAP1 company, filed a petition to the court with a request to order ParaRent.com Wawrzyniak Sp. j. company seated in Szczecin, to block access to the thread entitled “a suit for the use of a part of a map” which is available at www.forumprawne.org website (http://forumprawne.org/prawo-autorskie/501-pozew-za-wykorzystanie-fragmentu-mapy.html) operated by ParaRent.com. Mr Okonek also requested the court to prohibit ParaRent.com to publish of new content concerning Michał Okonek at foras available at forumprawne.org website. Mr Okonek pointed out that ParaRent.com allows its users for posting and sharing information that unjustly accuse him of extorting money, making false statements, misleading the courts and prosecution, intimidation of Internet users, even for distributing of pornography. Moreover, users of forumprawne.org called Mr Okonek as the swindler and the parasite, while he only uses the right to sublicense the use of copyrighted works such as digital maps.

The District Court in Szczecin in its decision of 4 February 2010, case file I Co 26/10 sided with Mr Okonek and issued the order blocking the aforementioned thread. ParaRent decided to appeal.

The Appellate Court in Szczecin in its decision of 18 May 2010, case file I ACz 296/10 overruled the ban. The Court held that in cases filed against the public media, for the protection of personal rights/property, the court may refuse to grant an injunction against publication of given information if the important public interest opposes such injunction/ban.

Michał Okonek filed another lawsuit against ParaRent.com, for the protection of personal rights and compensation. The case was linked with a blocked thread. The District Court in Szczecin VIII Economic Division in its judgment of 5 May 2011 case file VIII GC 106/10 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled the administrator of forumprawne.org website cannot be held responsible for comments that appeared on his website, unless Mr Okonek proves that the content of posts/comments was illegal, and the fact that the administartor had knowledge regarding such posts or comments, or received information from a reliable source regarding such posts or comments, and that the administrator did not fulfill his duty to disable access to such illegal content. All these prerequisite must be met together. The Court ruled that the administrator cannot arbitrarily interfere with the content published by users. These limits are set by the TOS of the forum website and the law. The Court noted that too much interference may lead to violation of freedom of expression, and thus it may also be an infringement of personal interests of users. The Court has also interpreted the meaning of the “credible information” of the illegal character of the stored data as provided in the Article 14 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.

For the adoption of the credibility of information, it is necessary to show that on the basis of credible information, the ISP had an objective opportunity to assess the illegality of data placed on the Internet by the customer. A different interpretation – that each request of an interested person (legal or natural) results in receiving of credible information of the illegal character of the stored data, would cause that, in principle, anyone whose activities fall within the online forum discussion, could remove data with reference to the violation of personal interest, and it would end any discussion. As the Court noted, such situation would be against the principle of freedom of expression and the essence of Internet activity. The Court also ruled that a complext topic on Map1 actions against Internet users, which appeared in a short period of time shows great interest in the subject and proves the difficulties of the current monitoring, which, moreover, is not a responsibility of the ISP. The Administrator is not a forum editor, the users of this forum are themselves. Mr. Okonek became a public figure and therefore he should more callous. The Court decided that the administrator had acted properly moderating only part of the disputed posts.

Mr Okonek appealed. The Appellate Court in Szczecin in its judgment of 26 October 2011 case file I ACa 572/11 dismissed the complaint.

Personal interest, case I C 1272/09

March 19th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 18 March 2010 case file I C 1272/09 ruled that the advertising of one of the Polish banks that promoted payment cards in such a way that it used profile pictures of users of nasza-klasa.pl website infringed their personal rights. A user who logged into his or her profile was presented with an advertising that showed his or her face/image placed on credit card together with a slogan “your card for your personal account may look like this”. The Court held that users agreed to the provisions of the terms of service, but the permission to use their pictures concerned solely the purpose of social networking, not advertising. The Court ordered the owner of nasza-klasa.pl to pay the plaintiff 5000 PLN as a compensation. This judgment is not yet final.

Personal interest, case I A Ca 1202/09

March 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Nasza-Klasa.pl website is a very popular Polish social networking service bringing together classmates. It provides its users with a possibility to contact and search for old friends. In 2008, an unknown person created an account for the name of Dariusz B., The fake profile included his personal data: name, place of residence, phone number, age and images. This account was set without the knowledge and the consent of Dariusz B. Many offensive comments were sent from this fake account to other users of the portal. These comments provoked negative emotions and responses from its recipients. Dariusz B. and his wife, tried to apologize to every person they met. Dariusz B. was also forced to change his phone number, and met with harsh comments from friends, and especially from the strangers. Maria B. – wife of Dariusz B. contacted Nasza-Klasa.pl by e-mails with the request to remove or to block the fake account. When it did not bring any results, they brought a lawsuit against Nasza-Klasa.pl.

Nasza-Klasa.pl was found responsible by both the District and the Apellate courts because it has not removed, or at least not immediately blocked the fake account, created in the name of Dariusz B., thereby making violations of his personal interests possible.

The Appellate Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 15 January 2010 case file I A Ca 1202/09 ruled that nature of the infringement performed by Nasza-Klasa.pl was to allow a third party to encroach on personal rights of Dariusz B., by not fulfilling its obligations under 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.

Article 14
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.

According to the Court, Nasza-Klasa.pl did not immediately block, and then delete the questioned fake account. Therefore, it forced Dariusz B. to bear a humiliating behavior caused by another person, which in consequence violated his serenity, good mood, sense of personal dignity, i.e. his personal interests. However, the Court did not agree with the argument that the standard of conduct, professionalism, requires the administrator to filter and delete statements that violate the law or may violate the law in an objective view, without a prior notice regarding such event. Putting such a requirement would be contrary to the provisions of Articles 14 and 15 in connection with Article 12 of the PSEM.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 667/09

February 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 15 January 2008, Tomasz W. filed with the General Inspector for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) a complaint concerning an unauthorized processing of personal data carried out by the Polish company Nasza Klasa Sp. z o.o. from Wroclaw, the owner of nasza-klasa.pl website. He informed the GIODO, that this very popular Polish website on classmates, hosts a photo featuring his image together with a list of names of other photographed people attached to it. Tomasz W. has repeatedly appealed to the website administrators with the request to remove his name from the list. However, he received no response from Nasza Klasa company.

As a result of the investigation, the GIODO found that on 31 December 2007, a registered user of nasza-klasa.pl posted classmates’ photo featuring students of a primary school. On the same day, another registered user, placed the names of people who were portrayed at the photograph – including the name and surname of Tomasz W. On 2, 9 and 14 January 2008, Tomasz W. requested Nasza Klasa Sp. z o.o. the removal of his personal data.

In a decision of 27 May 2008, case file DOLiS/DEC-314/08/13239, the GIODO, relying on the provisions of the Polish 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, ruled that information on the applicant’s full name, school and class to which he attended, together with his image, are personal data and the data collector is Nasza Klasa Sp. z o.o.

However, the GIODO also ruled that it should be borne in mind that according to the provision 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, Nasza Klasa sp. z o.o. provides electronic services for registered users of the portal website, consisting of the storage of data of these users in the computer system. This activity is the condition to legalize the processing of personal data in accordance with article 23(1) pt. 5 of the PPD. In addition, the GIODO found that in this case the applicant’s rights have not been violated, because the access to its data was limited to a group of people registered on nasza-klasa.pl website.

Tomasz W. asked the GIODO for the retrial. He pointed out that the reasons for the decision have many contradictions, inconsistencies and is ambiguous. He accused the GIODO of laconic and cursory treatment of his case. He again emphasized that his personal data have been published on the nasza-klasa.pl website without his knowledge or consent, in violation of his civil rights and liberties.

After the rehearing of the case, the GIODO annulled the contested decision, and discontinued the proceedings. GIODO claimed that the re-examination of the case leads to the conclusion that the disputed information about Tomasy W. did not fall within the definition of personal data. The name and surname have been given under his old image from many years ago. Hence, the combination of photos from the past, with a name and surname of a person and a primary school, which such person attended did not allow for the identification of a person without excessive costs and time. The findings that the disputed information is not personal data within the meaning of the PPD caused the proceedings in the matter to be groundless and on the basis of article 105 § 1 of the APC, it had to be discontinued.

Tomasz W. lodged a complaint with the Viovodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. The complainant asked for annulment of the decision of first and second instance. Tomasz W. claimed the violation of the substantive law, i.e. article 6(1) of the PPD, through its improper interpretation, of article 32(1) pt 7 and 8 of that Act, by recognizing that Tomasz W. is not entitled to request cessation of the processing of his data and the right to object, and a breach of article 7 of the APC by not explaining all the relvant facts. Tomasz W. disagreed with the statement of the GIODO that questioned information about his person is not personal data within the meaning of the PPD. He stated that any information about an identified or identifiable individual is personal data. Furthermore, he argued that the claim of the GIODO that the data are available only for specific people – registered users of the portal is not acceptable, because nasza-klasa.pl has no mechanisms for verification of users identity, which makes the questioned data easily accessible for everyone. Moreover, Tomasz W. also argued that a registered user who does not know him would have some difficulty in identifying his person but such obstacles would not happen to a person who knows about Tomasy W., and is looking for additional information.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 March 2009 case file II SA/Wa 1495/08 ruled that the GIODO erred in its decisions, because information about the name and surname of Tomasz W., combined with information about the name and address of the primary school and the determination of the class to which he attended in 1978/79, even if it was thirty years ago, are personal data. According to the Court provisions of article 1 of the PPD introduced the principle of autonomy of human information, meaning the protection of information about human being. This provision is a kind of emanation of the general right guaranteed by the Polish Constitution in article 47, according to which “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”. This means that the protection of personal data is related to the protection of privacy rights. This follows from the wording of article 6 of the PPD, indicating that the personal data concern identified or identifiable natural or legal person and that the identifiable is a person is one whose identity can be determined. From wording of that provisions the VAC concluded that personal data are data that identify a person’s identity. The VAC also relied on the content of recital 12 of the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, which emphasized the protection of all data relating to a person, and therefore also information about someones past.

(12) Whereas the protection principles must apply to all processing of personal data by any person whose activities are governed by Community law; whereas there should be excluded the processing of data carried out by a natural person in the exercise of activities which are exclusively personal or domestic, such as correspondence and the holding of records of addresses

However, in recital 26 of the abovementioned Directive states that data protection rules must apply to any information concerning an identified or identifiable person. In order to determine whether a person is identifiable, all the means which can be used by the controller or any other person to identify a person, should be taken into the account. The rules of data protection do not apply to data rendered anonymously in such a way that a subject of the data can not be identified. The identification of a given person concerns also past information about a specific human being, by which information one can learn about such person’s identity. Accordingly, the VAC held that European law means the protection of personal data as the protection of all the facts concerning the past of a particular person, which corresponds with the content of article 6(2) of the PDP. So this means that such data would also be protected. Referring to the foregoing facts of Tomasz W. case, the VAC ruled that that nasza-klasa.pl website published his image and name. In the opinion of the court these are the personal data which are protected by the PPD, because on their basis one is able to identify given person.

Nasza Klasa sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) challenging in entirety the judgment of the VAC. The Supreme Administrative Court in a judgment of 18 November 2009, case file I OSK 667/09, rejected the complaint. The SAC held that the primary issue arising in this case was whether a classmates’ picture that was taken thirty years ago, at which Tomasz W. is potrayed, in the circumstances of the case, can be analyzed to determine his identity without necessarily involving excessive resources or time, and therefore, whether the data disclosed in the photo in question, constitutes personal data within the meaning of article 6 of the PPD, and whether it should be protected.

The concept of “personal data” on the Polish law includes any information concerning an individual if it is possible to define its identity and its identification. Personal data is a set of messages about a particular person such integrated that it allows for its individualization. It includes at least information necessary for identification (name, surname, place of residence), but this is not restricted, because it also include further information, strengthening the degree of identification. Such information will also include pictures of the individual, even if they were taken in the past, allowing to identify a person. In a situation where such a photograph is presented with a name and surname of the person portrayed, in a place accessible to an unlimited number of entities, it must be considered that it constitutes personal data subject to protection under the PPD. Mainly, the objective evaluation criteria decides for the qualification of given information as personal data, but it also should comprise of all information, including extralinguistic (context), to which third party may have or has an access. A different approach to the presented issues would maginalize the importance of the laws and it would not relate to its designated function.

Thus it should be considered that the image of Tomasz W. portrayed at the photograph that was taken 30 years ago, affixed with the class, his name and surname, and then published at nasz-klasa.pl website constitutes personal data within the meaning of article 6(2) of the PPD, and the cassation complaint was not justified. The SAC also noted that the consent for the processing of personal data cannot be in any way implied.

The SAC also stressed the fact the Internet as a source of information is increasing on a unknown scale and importance. It provides an access to specific information to a vast number of persons and allows for any of its processing within the meaning of the PPD. At the same time there are not yet developed appropriate mechanisms for the protection of individual rights when those rights have been violated as a result of the disclosure of information on the Internet. Then, it is a great role of law enforcement bodies, including the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection in creating practice to comply with applicable laws also on the Internet. It is an unacceptablr situation in which the entity seeks to remove its image from a particular website, and the administration fails to take action to ensure the protection of civil rights. The image is one of the very personal property rights and lack of consent to its publication, if it is not a public person, is a sufficient reason to believe that regulations of the PPD apply, if the conditions set in the article 6(2) of the PPD have been met. There is a legal sequel to this story. See “Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1212/10“.

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

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“.

Personal interests, case I ACa 564/04

January 25th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 2 September 2002, the Polish company Secunda, a publisher of a portal website, posted a link to www.mlode-dupy.w.tertia.pl website on its webpage under the “Entertainment and sex” category in the “Winning websites” section under the name “Young women are the best”. The link to www.mlode-dupy.w.tertia.pl website was described as follows “10 hardcore pictures galleries. One could deal with this issue far better”. The gallery no 3 featured pictures of a woman in a swimsuit, that were made during a photographic session for candidates to advertising campaign. The plaintiff who worked with models agency sued Secunda. She argued that she has never agreed to a distribution of her image, nor received any remuneration for participation in a photo session. The plaintiff noted that a link to the www.mlode-dupy.w.tertia.pl website combined with the recommendation of this site are a form of distribution of the image of a person depicted in photos available on Secunda’s website. The defendant took no steps to ascertain whether the plaintiff consented to distribute these photographs and it did not take any action to obtain such consent, the defendant’s conduct, involving the unauthorized dissemination of the image of the plaintiff on the porno website, violates her image rights and degrade her in the public due to the inclusion of her image in pornographic pictures. Secunda claimed that it has no standing in this case because the infringer was a person who created a gallery available under www.mlode-dupy.w.tertia.pl link.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment of 26 February 2004 case file I C 2060/03 ruled that Secunda infringed on plaintiff’s personal rights by publishing questioned images. The court said that Secunda was responsible because it had the opportunity to check the contents of the “Winning websites” section, and images contained therein. The editor was responsible for the compilation of recommendations and a link to www.mlode-dupy.w.tertia.pl website, and in this case it was Secunda. Both parties appealed.

The Appellate Court in Kraków in a judgment of 20 July 2004 case file I ACa 564/04 TPP 2004/3-4/155 rejected Secunda’s appeal and changed the lower Court’s decision on damages awarded.