Copyright and Related Rights

In accordance with the Act on Copyright and Related Rights, dated 4 February 1994, “original works” are subject to protection by copyright.

On the basis of Article 1 of the Act, a work may be considered a “original work” if it meets the following three conditions, inclusively:

a) it must be the result of the work of a human being
b) it must be the result of creative activity
c) it must have an individual character

The creator of an outcome which meets these three conditions is awarded economic and moral rights to this work. It is a basic principle that only an authorized person may manage the work and derive benefits from it. This person is typically the author of the work or a person who acquired particular economic rights to the work on the basis of a contract or by law. Generally, economic rights to the work apply for the lifetime of the creator and a further 70 years after his or her death. Moral rights are a reflection of the close tie between the creator and the work itself.

Article 16 of the Act declares that personal copyright may not be waived or transferred. Additionally, this regulation mentions examples of protected rights. These include the right to:

1. authorship of the work
2. labelling of the work with the creator’s name or pseudonym, or the right to publish it anonymously
3. the inviolability of the content and form of the work, and to its appropriate use
4. the capacity to decide on the initial publication of the work
5. supervision of the way in which the work is used

Protection of intellectual property rights as understood by Polish law is not dependent on the completion of any formalities, for example registration of the work or the addition of relevant remarks reserving copyright on the work. The situation is different in the United States, where the registration of the work with the Copyright Office is not mandatory, nor is the placement of the relevant copyright information on the work, but it does bring certain benefits. A copyright note indicates that a given entity claims title to the authorship of the work and provides contact details in case a potential licensee appears.

Apart from original works, the Act also defines so-called related rights, essentially: rights to artistic performances, rights to audiovisual recordings of such performances, rights to broadcast, rights to first publication, and rights to academic works and works of criticism. These rights are separate from copyright in the type of intellectual property that they represent. The source of these related rights, different than in the case of copyright, is not the creative activity of the author as understood by copyright law. Instead they aim to protect the rights of distributors of such works. Consequently, related rights are applied in parallel to copyright and do not conflict with them. However, in certain circumstances, the exercise of related rights requires the agreement of the party which possesses copyright.