Copyright lawyer

Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland provides legal services in the field of copyright protection, including on issues related to electronic exploitation of works. In particular, we draw up licensing agreements and represent clients in proceedings concerning, among others, detaining at the border of goods infringing intellectual property rights.

Within the area of copyright law, our services include:

  1. drawing up legal opinions on copyright law;
  2. drawing up and negotiating agreements involving copyright issues, including between the author and the publisher or between co-authors;
  3. representing clients in court proceedings concerning: determination of the right to a work, awarding damages for illegal use of a work, payments under a licence or compensation for the infringement of moral rights.

A work as an object of copyright protection

Pursuant to the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights, the object of copyright is a work, i.e. any manifestation of creative activity of individual nature, established in any form, irrespective of its form of expression, purpose or value. Some of the types of creative works include photographic, artistic, architectural, industrial design, literary, musical and film works.  A work enjoys protection irrespective of the fulfilment of any formalities by its author.

However, the definition of a work does not include:

  1. normative acts;
  2. official documents; 
  3. published patent specifications; 
  4. simple pieces of information published in the press.

The definition of a work also includes works derived from another author’s work (e.g. translation or adaptation). However, the rights of the author of the derived work are not the same as those of the author of the original work. Under Polish law, the disposal and use of a derivative work is dependent on the permission of the author of the original work. The essence of a derivative copyright is the right to dispose of and use works derived from the works of other authors. 

Polish legal framework also provides protection for performers of works (e.g. actors, conductors, reciters). Such persons hold derivative copyrights, exhaustively listed in the legal provisions (e.g. the right to the recordings of programmes featuring the performer).

At Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland (copyright lawyer), we help clients determine whether a given piece of work may be considered a work enjoying legal protection under copyright law.

Who is the holder of copyrights?

In principle, copyrights are held by the author. Under Polish law, the author is presumed to be the person whose name is stated on copies of the work or communicated to the public. However, this presumption may be rebutted, for example in court proceedings.

Multiple authors

Where two or more persons are the authors of a work, they are considered as co-authors. In the Polish regulations, equality of shares of each of the co-authors in presumed. This presumption can be rebutted in court proceedings. Each of the co-authors may request that the size of the shares in the work of each of them be determined.

Rights of the author

Authors hold both moral rights and economic rights. In principle, moral rights are intended to protect the author’s association with the work, which cannot be transferred or renounced and is unlimited in time. Moral rights include the right to the authorship and supervision over the use of the work. Authors are also entitled to economic copyrights entailing the right to the exclusive use of the work, disposal of the work and remuneration for the use of the work. As a rule, economic copyrights expire upon seventy years from the author’s death. 

Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland represents clients in all proceedings aimed at determining moral and economic rights to the work, including those aimed at determining the shares of each co-author in a joint work.

Transfer of economic copyrights

Economic copyrights may be transferred either by succession or by agreement. It is emphasised by legal scholars and in case law that only the economic rights related to specific fields of exploitation may be transferred by way of an agreement. Consequently, one may not contractually transfer all economic copyrights to a given work. An agreement on the transfer of economic copyrights must therefore indicate the specific fields of exploitation. 

Specifying the fields of exploitation means stating how a given work can be used. Under the Polish legal framework, three basic fields of exploitation are distinguished, i.e.: reproduction and recording of the work by a specific technique (e.g. printing), placing on the market the original or the copy of the work (e.g. rental) and distribution of the work in another way (e.g. through public performance).

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Licensing agreement

A licensing agreement is an agreement for the use of a work. A person entitled under a licensing agreement obtains the right to use the work within a specific scope. Polish law provides for two types of licensing agreements, namely exclusive and non-exclusive agreements. The former is characterised by the fact that the licence is granted to only one entity. Consequently, the author agrees not to license the work to third parties and not to use the work themselves. A non‑exclusive licence, on the other hand, may be granted to several entities, independently of one another, and may be used by the author without restrictions.

Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland draws up licensing agreements and supports clients in negotiating the terms and conditions of such agreements.

Author’s supervision

Prior to the distribution of a work, the author has the right, and the user should allow the author, to supervise such distribution. If the author fails to carry out the supervision within the given time limit, they are deemed to have consented to the distribution of the work.

Civil liability for copyright infringement

In the event of an infringement of moral rights, the author may demand discontinuation of the infringement and removal of its effects by the infringer, for example by way of a public statement. In the case of a culpable infringement of moral rights, the author may claim compensation for the harm suffered or request that the infringer pay an appropriate sum of money to a social cause specified by the author. If the infringement concerns the author’s economic rights, the author has the right to request that the infringer discontinue the infringement, remove its effects, repair the damage caused, return the gains obtained and publish a statement in the press or make public the court decision issued in the case. 

Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland represents clients before courts and all other authorities in cases involving copyright infringement. 

Criminal liability for copyright infringement

Copyright infringement can also result in criminal liability. Under Polish law, criminal liability is incurred for such acts as appropriation of authorship (punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years), distribution of a work without permission, illegal multiplication and recording, dealing in stolen property, development of devices for illegal bypassing of security features, violation of the author’s right to control and information. Some of the offences are prosecuted upon request of the wronged party (e.g. distribution of a work without permission).

Copyright lawyer – Warsaw, Poland

Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland provides legal services throughout Poland. We support clients in establishing the rights to a work, executing agreements and enforcing economic rights to works. We also represent our clients in proceedings before state authorities and courts (e.g. in actions for damages or the authors’ remuneration for the use of their works). We would be pleased to welcome you at our Warsaw office at 59 Złota Street, 00-120 Warsaw. To contact us by phone, please call: +48 22 489 52 65.

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