General information

Copyright is an exclusive right to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a specific period of time. In Poland belonging to the civil law jurisdiction, under the Polish Copyright and Related Rights Act, copyright is divided into:

moral copyrights: rights of creators of copyrighted works of atribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously and the right to the integrity of the work

economic copyrights: exclusive right to use the work and to dispose of its use in all the fields of exploitation and to receive remuneration for the use of the work

What can be protected by copyright?

Under the Polish Copyright and Related Rights Act the following original works can be copyrighted:

  • works expressed in words, mathematical symbols, graphic signs (literary, journalistic, scientific and cartographic works, and computer programs),
  • artistic works,
  • photographic works,
  • string musical instruments,
  • industrial design works,
  • architectural works, architectural and town planning works, and town planning works,
  • musical works and dramatico-musical works,
  • stage works, stage and musical works, choreographic and pantomime works,
  • audiovisual (including cinematographic) works,

The following works are also copyrighted in Polish law:

  • the work derived from another author’s work (derivative work), in particular its translation, alteration or adaptation.
  • collections, anthologies, selections, and databases which have the properties of a (creative) work shall even if they contain unprotected materials, provided that their selection, arrangement or composition are creative, without detriment to the rights of the used works.

How is copyright obtained in Poland?

In all countries that are members of the Berne Convention, such as Poland, copyright is automatic and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Under the Convention it is also not necessary to contain a copyright notice or the © symbol followed by the publication date and copyright owner’s name, to be eligible for protection as copyright.

The moment the author obtains the copyright is the moment his or her work is ‘made available’ to public (may be seen, heard, read etc.). In other words, copyright arises upon so called “fixation”. Such moment may be for example:

  • recitation of a poem to some audience (it’s enough if it is only one person in the audience apart from the author) performance of a show
  • exhibition of a painting in an art gallery
  • publishing of a work on the Internet
  • presentation of a work with the use of audio-visual equipment

Note! It is not necessary to secure the work in a tangible /”fixed” medium such as a computer disc, videotape, canvas etc. to be eligible for copyright protection. In practice, however, it normally happens so.

How long is a work protected by copyright in Poland?

if the author is known:

  • for the whole life of the author and then 70 years after his/her death

if the author is unknown:

  • for 70 years following the first dissemination of the work

if the economic copyright is NOT held by the author but by some other person:

  • for 70 years following the first dissemination of the work
  • if the work has not been disseminated: 70 years following its fixation
  • in case of radio and TV programs: 50 years following their first broadcast
  • in case of sound recordings and motion pictures: 50 years from the date of their production

What IS NOT protected in Poland:

Polish copyright law prohibits copyright for:

  • ideas, concepts unless they are presented in an artistic form
  • legislative acts and their official drafts,
  • official documents, materials, logos and symbols,
  • published patent specifications and industrial design specifications,
  • simple press information.
  • theories, scientific facts,
  • works devoid of artisict/creative element such as typical tables, drawings, lists in alphabetical order etc.

We can assist you and perform on your behalf any activities related to cases of copyright infringement such as:

  • writing and responding to cease and desist letters,
  • alternative dispute resolution,
  • negotiating and drafting agreements (e.g. licensing, assignment, as well as with advertising agencies),
  • representing clients before common courts,
  • representing clients before police and prosecution,
  • preparing and filing of interim injunction requests to secure evidence/claims
  • contacting other authorities ruling on copyright matters, such as collective rights management bodies.
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