Copyright protection - what should you know?


The author is entitled to copyright protection regardless of fulfilling any formalities. Copyrights do not have to be registered, they do not have to be reported for protection in any way, or fees for protection or patenting are paid (patents and specialist copyright protection apply to other subjects of intellectual property protection: trademarks, industrial and utility designs, inventions) .

Copyright protection - duration

The duration of copyright protection depends on the type of these rights, because, as we know, copyrights are divided into proprietary copyrights and moral rights.

Moral rights are unlimited in time, so they last forever. On the other hand, proprietary copyrights, unless the law provides otherwise, generally expire seventy years after the death of the author.

Copyright protection - do any requirements have to be met for protection to exist?

Not. The work is protected under the copyright law from the moment it is established, even if it is incomplete. The work is determined by its manifestation by the author. According to the judgment of the Supreme Court of April 25, 1973 (file reference number I CR 91/73), an artistic work becomes the subject of copyright already when it is established, i.e. when it takes on any form, even if it is impermanent, but constant enough for the content and features of the work to exert an artistic effect. Thus, the work may be determined by reciting a poem in public, the first exhibition of the painting in an art gallery, or the author posting the article on the Internet. In order for a work to be established, it is not necessary to fix it on any medium (in practice, however, there are works that, in order to be established, must also be fixed, e.g. a picture).

Protection of personal rights

The protection of personal rights against infringements of third parties is regulated in Chapter 8 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights. The creators have claims for:

  • a failure to act (request to do so) that may lead to a violation. The request for abandonment is aimed at removing the condition that threatens the rights of the creator (it should indicate specific activities that should be abandoned),

  • removal of the effects of a breach when it has already been made. The creator may require the person who committed the infringement to do everything possible to remove the effects of his harmful activity (in particular, to make a public statement of appropriate content and form). If the infringement was culpable, the court may award the creator an appropriate sum of money as compensation for the harm suffered or - at the creator's request - oblige the perpetrator to pay an appropriate sum of money for the social purpose indicated by the creator.

The above claims may also be pursued in a different form, in accordance with the demand of the authorized person included by the court in the judgment (e.g. the author may request publication of the judgment, republication of the work, destruction of unlawfully published copies, etc.).

In the event of the author's death, the above claims and the right to exercise moral rights, unless the author has expressed a different will, are vested in his spouse, and if he is absent, successive descendants, parents, siblings, descendants of siblings.

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Property rights protection

The protection of economic copyrights is regulated in Chapter 8 of the Act. The entitled person whose proprietary copyrights have been infringed is entitled to the following claims:

  1. abandonment of infringement - this claim is not dependent on the infringing party's fault, the authorized entity may demand the omission from any person who infringes its rights,

  2. removal of the effects of the violation,

  3. compensation for the damage caused on general terms or by payment of a sum of money in the amount corresponding to twice, and in the event that the infringement is culpable - three times the relevant remuneration, which at the time of its investigation would be due as a consent to use the work by the authorized entity,

  4. issuing the obtained benefits.

Regardless of the above claims, the entitled person may additionally request:

  1. a single or multiple announcement in the press of a declaration of appropriate content and in an appropriate form, or publication of part or all of the court judgment issued in the case under consideration,

  2. payment by a person who infringed copyrights, an appropriate amount of money to the Creative Promotion Fund, when the infringement is culpable and was performed as part of business activity performed in someone else's or on his own behalf, even for someone else's account.

Moreover, if the court decides that the claim is justified, it may take additional steps (e.g. forfeiture to the State Treasury of unlawfully produced copies of the works).

Criminal sanctions

It should be remembered that in addition to property and non-property protection, the Copyright Act also contains a number of criminal provisions (Chapter 14 of the Act), which are to protect the rights of authors. Therefore, the creator, if his rights are violated, may report the case to the prosecutor's office. Among the criminal offenses, the act provides, inter alia, misrepresentation as to the authorship of the work, distribution of the work without specifying the author's name, distribution, recording or reproduction of the work without authorization. Polish copyright law is very restrictive and the act provides for a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years for infringement of copyright.