Archive for: Polish Civil Code

Personal interest, case I OSK 1217/10

July 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) ordered Axel Springer Polska to disclose addresses of three authors who wrote a critical article in “Dziennik” newspaper about Polish businessman, however, information presented in the article proved to be incorrect. He wanted to sue all authors but Axel Springer refused to provide addresses, therefore, the lack of addresses of the defendants in the lawsuit was the reason for the civil court to dismiss the action.

Axel Springer Polska filed a complaint against the decision of the GIODO but the Voivodeship Administrtive Court in its judgment of 8 April 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1488/09 dismissed it. Axel Springer filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 June 2011 case file I OSK 1217/10 ruled that if the addresses of journalists are required to bring an action for the protection of personal interest, the publisher must disclose them to the requesting party.

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 data protection, I OSK 1086/10

June 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 May 2011 case file I OSK 1086/10 acknowledged the principle that in case of a disclosure of personal data in the media, the press law and civil law regulations are applicable, and not the provisions 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.

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

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.

Copyright law, case IV CSK 274/10

May 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 26 January 2011 case file IV CSK 274/10 held that creation of legal rules that are included in the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments, and that concern copyright agreements, does not exclude the applicability of the provisions of the Civil Code, especially particular chapters of the CC. The conclusion of contracts other than these provided for in the ARNR, mainly the contract of transfer of copyrights (i.e. all economic rights that are primarily attributed to the creator) or the contract for the use of the work (licences), is not excluded if the specificity of copyright is also taken into account. There was also no reason to exclude – in principle – the possibility to establish the lease on copyright, of course, after the conditions set in Article 709 of the CC have been satisfied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civil law, case II Ca 26/11

May 9th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Andrzej J., a Polish farmer, ordered his 17-year-old son to put up for sale a tractor. He told him to use Allegro.pl, the most popular Polish auction website. It was one of the first auctions on the Internet for both of them. However, his son, who started the action, did not specify a minimum selling price. The auction was attended by six interested parties. The highest offer of 11.000 PLN bid by Adam S., let him to win the auction. Andrzej J. refused to hand over the vehicle, claiming that the winning price was too low. He argued that his son is minor and although he received his father’s command, he exceeded the scope of the mandate, because despite the clear indication, he did not select in the options, the minimum price that should be set to 38.000 PLN (it was set at the last day of the auction at the suggestion of the mother). Andrzej J. claimed that he was not aware that such transaction can be concluded below the minimum price, and he hadn’t the possibility of withdrawing the offer. He argued that he acted under the influence of the error in fact, therefore, he should be released from the conclusion of the agreement.

The District Court in Łuków held that the claim for a vehicle at the price of 11.000 is fully justified. The Court pointed to the wording of Article 70¹ of the Civil Code.

Article 701. § 1. A contract may be concluded by means of an auction or tendering.
§ 2. An announcement of an auction or tendering shall specify the time, place, object and terms of the auction or the tendering, or to indicate how such terms are available.
§ 3. The announcement and the terms of the auction or the tendering may be changed or revoked only when it has been stipulated in their contents.
§ 4. Since the moment of making the terms available and making the bid respectively by an organizer and the bidder according to the announcement of the auction or tendering, they shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of the announcement, likewise the provisions of the terms of auction or the tendering.

In this case, the terms for auctions and the procedures for the conclusion were established by Allegro in its Terms of Service, which were both accepted by the seller and the buyer. According to the terms of Allegro, the seller can make changes to the content of the auction only in three minutes after the auction begins. The Court ruled that the son of Andrzej J. did not act as his proxy, but as a messenger, whose role was purely technical, he had to enter some data on an auction website, therefore he could not be regarded as representative based on provisions of the Polish Civil Code.

Article 95. § 1. Barring the exceptions specified in statutory law or resulting from the character of a given act in law, an act in law may be performed through a representative.
§ 2. An act in law performed by a representative within the limits of the authorization shall have direct effects for the person represented.

Article 96. The authorization to act on behalf of another person may be based on statutory law (statutory representation) or on the declaration by the person represented (power of attorney).

The District Court in Lublin in its judgment case file II Ca 26/11 upheld a lower court’s judgment. See also “Civil law, case I ACa 295/10“.

Press law, case IV 346/08

April 27th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The information about the preparatory proceedings and a criminal trial of the two members of the Wielkopolski Bank Rolniczy board, had been revealed by the Polish prosecutor general Konrad Napieralski. He had mentioned each of the person by a full name. His statement was transmitted on TV, news were published in the Internet. Bianka Mikołajewska wrote an article about this case in the Polish newspaper “Polityka” published by Spółdzielnia Pracy Polityka.

Both members of the board filed a civil suit for the infringement of their personal interests against Mrs Mikołajewska and the publisher. They recalled the provisions of Article 13 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, which under no circumstances permits publication of any personal data concerning people during a court trial, unless a prosecutor or a court of law permit the publication. The journalist did not asked for a permission.

The first instance court dissmissed the case and the higher court accepted its decision. The Court ruled that Article 13(2) of the APL does not apply to public figures. Both courts agreed that if personal data has been disclosed in a public statement, a journalist has the right to consider its free access. The plaintiffs filed a cassation complaint to the Supreme Court. They argued that the provisions of Article 13(2) the APL apply to them as the public figures. They claimed that even when personal data are freely accessible that doesn’t mean they are to be published in a newspaper.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 January 2009 case file IV 346/08 dissmissed the complaint. The Court ruled both lower courts were wrong. The Court decided that the Article 13(2) of the APL applies to the public figures too. However, the Supreme Court agreed that the journalist is free from charges. It was not in journalist duties to check if a prosecutor acted in good faith during his official statements.

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 interest, case II CSK 431/10

February 21st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish pop-singer Dorota Rabczewska sued Polish rapper Mieszko Sibilski for the infringement of her personal interests. She demanded an apology and 20.000 PLN as compensation for the damage she suffered. Rabaczewska lost the case in the first instance. The Court of second instance ordered Sibilski to publish an apology for the infringement of her dignity in the form of an online ad that has to be placed for 7 days at Polish portal site Onet.pl. The calculations showed that such action would cost around 32.000.000 PLN. Sibilski lodged an cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its order of 2 February 2011 case file II CSK 431/10 held that the court cannot order an apology for the violation of dignity, if the plaintiff requested for the protection of other personal interests, in this case her reputation and right to privacy. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the second instance court improperly ordered the form of publication of an apology because it did not take into account technical requirements and the costs associated with it. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment and sent the case back for reconsideration.

Personal interests, case I C 588/10

February 11th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish businessman, sued the owner of a Polish internet website Money.pl seeking the removal of two press releases that came from the Polish Press Agency and were republished at money.pl. In his view, the publication of these texts was made in breach of his personal interests, because they informed about earlier, unsubstantiated accusations directed at him by the Polish newspaper “Gazeta Polska” and Tomasz Sakiewicz, the editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Polska” and a well known right-wing journalist. These proved to be false accusations. The publisher and Sakiewicz pledged to publish apology.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment of 10 January 2011 case file I C 588/10 dismissed the suit. The Court ruled that media are allowed to publish diffrent comments and informationn, even if some people mentioned there, are against such publications.

The Appellate Court in Kraków in its judgment of 19 May 2011 case file I ACa 372/11 overturned the judgment of the District Court.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 601/10

December 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Producent Okien i Drzwi z PVC “OKLAND” Joanna Wilk i Wojciech Wilk Spółka Jawna from Kostomłoty Pierwsze filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection for a word-figurative trade mark Okland R-154904 owned by OKLAND Spółka z o.o. from Rokitki, in regard to the goods in Class 19, wooden windows. The company from Kostomłoty Pierwsze claimed it operates since 1 June 1997. Its business activities include the production of windows and doors of PVC in the four southern voivodeships. The company argued that the simultaneous use of the OKLAND sign in its company name and as a trade mark registered for a different entrepreneur may increase the risk of misleading the public, which includes in particular the risk of association between signs. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. Okland from Rokitki filed a complaint against this decision.

R-154904

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 31 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 601/10 held that the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name of another entrepreneur does not determine, however the infringement of the rights to the company name (the firm). The exclusive rights to the company name are not absolute. The limits of these rights are set by the coverage (territorial and objective) of the actual activity of a given company. The collision between identical or similar signs i.e. a company name and a trademark, may occur only within these limits. The judgment is not yet final.

Access to public information, case V Ca 2388/10

November 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Professor Janusz S. Bień requested the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to disclose public information on the license agreement, concerning the online version of the Dictionary of the Polish language of the sixteenth century. The request was filed under 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. Mr Bień did not receive the requested information, but also was not denied this information in the form of an administrative decision. As a result, prof. Bień brought an action for failure to act. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, in its judgment of 18 June, 2009 case file II SAB/Wa 14/09 ordered the Director of the Institute of Literary Research to examine the request.

On 13 August 2009, the Institute of Literary Research refused to provide requested public information because of the secret of the entrepreneur. The basis for refusal was Article 5(2) of the API.

Article 5. 1. The right to public information is subject to limitation to the extent and on the principles defined in the provisions on the protection of confidential information and on the protection of other secrets being statutorily protected.
2. The right to public information is subject to limitation in relation to privacy of a natural person or the secret of an entrepreneur. The limitation does not relate to the information on persons performing public functions, being connected with performing these functions, including the conditions of entrusting and performing these functions and in the event when a natural person or entrepreneur resigns from the right to which he was entitled to.

The entity, which was denied the access to the public information in respect to its exclusion of its openness when quoting the protection of personal data, the right to privacy and the secret other than state, official, treasury or statistical secret, is entitled to put an action to the court for making such information available. Professor decided to bring an action.

The Regional Court for Warszawa Śródmieście I Civil Division in its judgment of 12 March 2010 case file I C 1305/09, dismissed the action because the prof. Bien has not demonstrated that he is legally entitled to obtain a photocopy of the disputed agreement. The Court arbitrarily assumed that as a basis for disclose of a photocopy of the disputed agreement should be used Article 222 § 1 of the Civil Code governing the claim of the owner of a thing against the person who actually possess it (rei vindicatio).

Article 222. § 1. The owner may demand of a person who has actual control of a thing to release that thing to him unless that person has the right, effective with respect to the owner, to control the thing.
§ 2. The owner shall have the right to claim restitution of his lawful position and abstention from infringements of law, against a person who infringes his ownership otherwise than by depriving the owner of the actual control of a thing.

Professor Bień appealed. The District Court in Warsaw, V Civil Division, in its judgment of 9 November 2010 case file V Ca 2388/10, annulled the contested judgment and ordered Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to provide photocopies of the agreement.

Personal interest, case XXIV C 760/09

October 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Kataryna, actually Katarzyna Sadło appeared in the Polish blogoshpehre shortly after the so-called Rywin affair. Since then Kataryna simultaneously publish her blogs on both blox and salon24.pl websites. She quickly became well-known person who comments on political life in Poland and received a large number of comments. Her identity quickly began to attract the interest of the mass-media. A few journalists were suspected for writing under this pseudonym. Kataryna gave interviews in press but did not disclose her identity.

In May 2009, the owner Salon24 website announced that Krzysztof Czuma, son of the Polish Minister of Justice Andrzej Czuma, sent a letter to Salon24 seeking the removal of lying and offensive blog entry of “a Kataryna”. Salon24 responded that the content of the blog posts does not affect the TOS of Salon24 and therefore it will not be removed. However, Kataryna announced that if the minister Czuma would like to bring the civil lawsuit against her, she will reveal her personal data.

Shortly after that, the Polish daily newspaper “Dziennik Polska-Europa-Świat” published information that it knows the identity of the blogger. Although the newspaper did not publish her name, but described it in a way that allowed for unambiguous identification. These were more than enough information to let Internauts to identify Katarzyna Sadło as Kataryna.

Kataryna decided to reveal (tweet) the contents of SMS, which has received from Sylwia Czubkowska, a journalist reporter from Dziennik, in which the she urged Kataryna to disclose her identity in the newspapers and warned that otherwise the information may be used by “Fakt” which is a tabloid owned by the same publisher – Axel Springer Poland. Kataryna sued Axel Springer, the publisher of “Dziennik” and the editors of this newspaper for violation of her right to privacy. The case was brought before the District Court in Warsaw case file XXIV C 760/09, however it was settled out of the court.

Unfair competition, case V CSK 192/09

September 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

AFLOFARM Fabryka Leków sp. z o.o. from Ksawerów sued two Polish companies for trade mark infringement and unfair competition delict/tort with regard to selling similar pharmaceutical products. This case went through all instances.

Z-307527

The Supreme Court in its judgement of 22 January 2010 case file V CSK 192/09 published in the electronic database LEX, under the no 564857, dismissed the complaint filed by Hasco Lek S.A. and Hasco Lek Dystrybucja. The Court held that the specificity of the market’s segment in which the magnesium preparations are sold, and which boils down to the fact that the same or very similar products gains the advantage of customers, through its specific name and advertising of such product and its packaging, requires greater care when introducing a new product of a very similar name and packaging, because it cannot mislead consumers, and it cannot take away consumers from another producer.

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.

Civil law, case I ACa 295/10

July 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Allego.pl is a very popular Polish auction website. Michał Z. is one of many of its users. He was acting on behalf of his father’s company when he placed an auction. When setting the option “buy now”, he allegedly by mistake underpriced the item he was trying to sell. The item was valued for 74.000 PLN but Michał Z. set the “buy now” price for 7.400 PLN. Alicja W. decided to buy this item and she choose “buy now” option. She received an e-mail confirming her purchase from Allegro.pl

Michał Z. tried to void the contract, arguing that he has made a mistake when setting a price for this auction. When Alicja Z. came for the auctioned item, its owners have refused to release it. They proposed purchase of another one – in a promotional price of 50.000 PLN. Alicja Z. did not agree to a subsequent proposals, including 20.000 PLN compensation and she sued.

The District Court in Radom dismissed her claim. The Court ruled that the parties came to the conclusion of the contract of sale, but Michał Z. has successfully evaded of legal consequences of his offer, because it was made by error of fact. It was clear for the Court that the value of the item was given incorrectly, and it did not correspond to real costs of such products. The Court ruled that Alicja W. was certainly aware of this price disparity. She could have acquired such knowledge even from the website of the seller because the address was included in the offer. Alicja Z. appealed.

The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 295/10 held that if the declaration of will has been made to another person, the evasion of legal consequences it permissible only if the error was caused by that person, even if such person was not guilty, or if such person was aware of the error (for example such knowledge was acquired during the negotiations) or the error could easily be noted by such person. According to the Court, none of these conditions has occurred in this case. The Court ruled that it cannot be assumed that someone must be aware of the fact that the price is wrong, and that it was possible for such person to find out the actual price.

The Appellate Court ruled that the District Court overlooked the fact that the auction was placed on Allegro website, which has its own rules (TOS) of trading/auctioning. The item was only available at the auction with the “buy now” option, in which the seller puts the goods at a fixed, predetermined price. The contract between the seller and the buyer takes upon confirmation of the “buy now” option, as the buyer is automatically notified. The terms of such auction cannot be changed in relation to the buyer who has made an offer, before such change was made. The seller, who choose this type of auction, is bound by the rules and cannot change the conditions of the transaction after a bid by the buyer. The Appellate Court sent this case back for reconsideration.

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 interest, case VI Aca 1460/09

July 12th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Małgorzata F. sued a residential community and the advertising company for infringement of her personal interest that according to Małgorzata F. occured by placing on the building in which she lives a big banner advertising, which concealed all windows of her apartment. The plaintiff did not ask for financial compensation but only for the apology to be published in the media.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 9 July 2010 case file VI Aca 1460/09 held that such advertising does not constitute an infringement of personal rights, in particular immunity of residence, because it rather concerned the so-called domestic peace (mir domowy). The court suggested that the right way for such disputes is to challenge the resolutions of the community or to base a lawsuit on the rules on the protection of property, and not the path of protection of personal interests.

See also “Advertising law, reclaim the windows“.

Trade mark law, case IX GC 104/06

July 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2003, Polish company Zakłady Tytoniowe Lublin started to produce “Full Flavor ZTL Mont Blanc” and “Light ZTL Mont Blanc” cigarettes. Te tanie papierosy miały być konkurencją dla przemycanych z Ukrainy papierosów Monte Carlo. These latter cheap cigarettes were meant to be competition for Monte Carlo cigarettes smuggled from Ukraine.

R-160948

German company Montblanc – Simplo sued Polish company for infringement of Montblanc trade marks’ reputation, unfair competition delict and infringement of personal rights/interest. Montblanc – Simplo demanded the cessation of production of these cigarettes and the publication of a statment on illegal use of the trade mark, in nationwide newspapers.

R-160949

The District Court in Lublin in its judgment case file IX GC 104/06 dismissed these claims. The court held that that the contested name is written on cigarette packs separately (as the name of a mountain peak) and in a figurative aspect it has a different color, font and background. Therefore it cannot mislead consumers, what is more important, these are goods of various kinds. The expert in the field of commodities found that use of the trade mark for cheap cigarettes has no effect on the reputation of Montblanc sign and there is no percolation of the two groups of consumer of both products. Also an expert in the field of social psychology, did not reveal blurring of Montblanc reputation by the use of the geographical name “Mont Blanc” on the cheap cigarettes.

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.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 425/09

May 7th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 30 August 2004, the Polish Patent Office registered word-figurative trade mark Ravago R-154724 to Walter Breitengraser. The Polish company RESINEX Sp. z.o.o. submitted a request for invalidation of the right of protection, arguing that Mr Breitengraser has applied for the registration in violation of RESINEX personal and economic rights arising from the rights to the name Ravago and in violation of good customs. Resinex also claimed that the application for the disputed trade mark was made in bad faith because Walter Breitengraser was the president of the company acting as an agent for RESINEX.

R-154724

The Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for Ravago R-154724 trade mark. The PPO followed the rule that in the event of a conflict between the right of protection for a trademark and personal right/interest, including the right to business/company name, the priority is to protect the personal interest. The PPO also pointed out that article 8 of the Paris Convention does not constitute independent grounds for the protection of trade names, and therefore a request for its protection must be dealt with under the provisions of national law. The PPO also noted that it is established rule in the legal doctrine and case law, that the registration of a trade mark, which is identical to a name of other company, that was used by this company prior the registration of a questioned trade mark, affects the personal interests of this company.

The complaint filed by Walter Breitengraser was rejected by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in a judgment of 4 November 2008, case file VI SA/Wa 1324/08.

The Supreme Administrative Court in a judgment of 23 February 2010, case file II GSK 425/09 rejected the cassation complaint and held that the presumption of good faith, as defined in article 7 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments, is the presumption, to which the provisions of Article 234 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, refers to. Under this provision, the presumption laid down by the law (legal presumption) binds the court and may be rebutted, however, whenever the law does not preclude this.

Article 7
If the Act makes the legal consequences dependent of good or bad faith, the existence of good faith is presumed.

This provision has the auxiliary use in all administrative and court-administrative proceedings. There is no rule of law that would exclude the possibility of presentation of the proof of the existence of bad faith.

Internet domains, case I C 2179/09

April 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 2 March 2010, the District Court in Białystok I Civil Division issued in absentia judgment case file I C 2179/09, in which it ordered the defendant, a natural person known as “domain name investor” to discontinue the use of tygodnikpowszechny.pl domain name. The court ordered the defendant to publish a full-page paid ad in a weekly magazine, and two ads in two nationwide newspapers (Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita), with an apology defined by the Court. The court also ordered the defendant to pay the amount of 25000 PLN as compensation for infringement of personal rights of Tygodnik Powszechny sp. z o.o. company, and the amount of 15000 PLN as damages for infringement of personal rights of Father Adam Boniecki, the editor of Tygodnik Powszechny. These amounts should be transferred to Fundacji Polska Akcja Humanitarna (the Fundation Polish Humanitarian Action). The court ruled the judgment to be immediately enforceable. The judgment is final.

The court held that the use of Internet domain name may constitute a violation of personal rights taking into account the content which is visible at a website available under a given domain name. The questioned domain name was parked and directed to a website with advertising links. Such content, including texts, which were the visualization of sponsored links, constituted in Court’s opinion an infringement of personal rights.

This judgment is very important for Polish and foreign companies which became the target of cybersquatting if we consider that the Polish case law on personal interests, for instance the Appellate Court in Poznań in a judgment of 22 October 1991, case file I ACr 400/90, already established the rule that the firm under which the company conducts its business, has the same meaning in legal relations, as the name of an individual person.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Personal interest, case I CSK 346/08

March 22nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Roman Giertych issued critical opinions of the former Polish politician Jacek Kuroń, who died in 2004. Mr Giertych was sued by a son and a brother of Mr Kuroń. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 23 September 2009 case file I CSK 346/08 held that legal protection of personal interest in the form of the cult of the memory of the deceased person, is not dependent on the protection of personal rights and interests of that person, if such protection would have been afforded to this person when he or she was alive. Mr Giertych was found guilty. The Court ordered him to publish apology in the press, and to pay a compensation.

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.

Internet websites, case I C 1532/09

March 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal interest, case I ACa 1176/09

February 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In the summer of 2008, a popular Polish tabliod Super Express published a nude picture of Justyna Steczkowska that was taken on a Turkish beach during her holidays. The singer sued the publisher for the violation of privacy interest. The Appellate Court in Warsaw in a judgment of 24 February 2010, case file ACa 1176/09, awarded Justyna Steczkowska 80000 PLN compensation and ordered Super Express to publish an apology. The court held that there is no implied consent to the intrusion into privacy, even though it was the hotel’s private beach and a photographed person wasn’t too cautious.

Personal interest, case I CSK 217/09

February 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 28 January 2010, case file I CSK 217/09, held that the continuity and repetition of violations of reputation in a certain time interval justifies the possibility of drafting the press apology as provided for in Article 24 § 1 sentence II of the Civil Code in a suitably concise and more general way, that is sufficient for defining the legal contours of (substance/essense) the press tort, its perpetrator, the nature of the tort, statements about the harmed person that were affecting the reputation of his business.

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

The Court ruled that the infringement of the plaintiff’s personal interest/rights (his commercial reputation and the firm) was the result of the unacceptable “opinions” and “suggestions” issued by the defendant.

Internet domains, case I ACz 232/10

February 14th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

As polite fans would probably say, the condition of Polish football is at least “debatable”, and others might use more crude words. The corruption and inefficient management of the Polish national football leagues are the tip of the Iceberg. This situation causes frustration of many people who try to blame the Polish Football Association (PZPN) for all their miseries. Some of these people decided to take matters into their own hands. They formed the Association of Defenders and Supporters of the Polish Football. They registered koniecpzpn.pl (end of Polish Football Association) as an Internet domain name and started to host a website with critical publications on PZPN under that domain. One didn’t need to wait too long before lawyers representing the Polish Football Association entered “the game”. New players acting on behalf of the Polish Football Association requested the court to issue a preliminary injunction in order to secure the case for the future action for trade mark protection and for the protection of personal rights.

The District Court in Lódż, I Civil Division, in its order of 14 January 2010, case file I Co 203/09 granted the injunction and ordered the prohibition of placing at koniecpzpn.pl website the following trade marks owned by PZPN: R-142616, R-170024, R-188961 and R-188962, the Court also ordered a block on the access to the content of the website available under www.koniecpzpn.pl domain name. The Court set the PZPN a two-week deadline for lodging the petition instituting proceedings for trade mark protection and the protection of personal rights under the pain of withdrawing the injunction in case no lawsuit was filed by that date.

The Appellate Court in Łódź in its decision of 24 March 2010 case file I ACz 232/10 annulled the injunction. The Court held that PZPN did not exactly specified which claims it intends to enforce. The Court ruled that all claims should be precisely specified in the request because the lack of precise claims make impossible to verify whether conditions for the injunction are met, i.e. whether the claim is reliable and the applicant has legal interest (locus standi) in enforcing it. The Court also noted that the injunction would be unduly restrictive and burdensome beyond measure. According to the Court the blocking of a website could be considered as inadmissible preventive censorship.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Personal interest, case I ACa 949/09

February 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet domains, case I ACa 272/06

February 8th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 16 June 2006 case file I ACa 272/06 ruled that it is pointless to talk about the “ownership” of Internet domains, because the civil law sets the property rights in Article 140 of the Civil Code, which only refers to tangibles, and domains are not such things, and further, due to the closed list of property rights in intangibles (the so-called numerus clasus of IP rights – the principle that the system of estates allows only a limited number of property rights available in a legal system), there are no regulations in the Polish law, which suggests that the effect of registering Internet domain names is, to acquire by the subscriber, the right to use and dispose of the domain. The agreement between the subscriber and the Internet domain registrar is a contract to provide telecommunications services within the meaning of Article 1(1) 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. The subscriber may transfer his or her claims (contractual claims against the registrar) to another entity, if it comes with the assumption of debt from subscriber fees.

I realize that this differs significantly from the US law. Easpecially if you read Kremen v. Cohen, 335 F.3d 1035, (9th Cir. 2003).

The parties do not dispute that domain names are a kind of property. This proposition appears to be consistent with California’s broad definition of “property.” See Cal. Civ.Code §§ 654 & 655(property includes “all inanimate things which are capable of appropriation or of manual delivery”). The parties disagree, however, whether a domain name like sex.com is the kind of intangible property that can support a claim for conversion. At issue is whether such intangible property constitutes a sufficiently definite right and whether such intangible property must also be merged into a document or other writing.

Same opinions were issued in Harrods, Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214 (4th Cir. 2002), Caesars World, Inc. v. Caesars-Palace.Com, 112 F. Supp. 2d 502 (E.D. Va. 2000) or In re Larry Koenig & Assoc., 2004 WL 3244582 (Bankr. M.D. La. 2004). But there are also different judgments such as Dorer v. Arel, 60 F. Supp. 2d 558 (E.D. Va. 1999), Zurakov v. Register.com, Inc., 304 A.D.2d 176, 760 N.Y.S.2d 13 (1st Dep’t 2003), Network Solutions, Inc. v. Umbro International, Inc., 259 Va. 759, 529 S.E.2d 80 (2000) and the latest I know which is Palacio del Mar Homeowners Assn., Inc. v. McMahon, — Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2009 WL 1668294 (Cal. App. 4 Dist. June 16, 2009). The Court ruled that a domain name registration is not property, but merely supplies the intangible contractual right to use a unique domain name for a specified period of time. Does it sound familiar to you?

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.