Copyrights to the website of the enterprise


A website is a specific type of song. Due to its form, few consider it to be a fully-fledged subject of copyright, as well as other works posted on the Internet. The functioning of photographs or texts published on the website as works protected by copyright is slowly reaching the general public awareness, but the website itself is still perceived as a network element, common, widely available, and therefore unprotected. Read and find out how copyrights to the company's website are protected.

Website as a track

The legal definition of the work can be found in Art. 1 clause 1 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights. In addition to the general definition of its features, the Act also mentions specific manifestations of creativity, considered to be works.

Art. 1. 1. The subject of copyright is any manifestation of creative activity of an individual nature, established in any form, regardless of its value, purpose and manner of expression (work).

2. In particular, the subject of copyright are works:

1) expressed in words, mathematical symbols, graphic signs (literary, journalistic, scientific, cartographic and computer programs);

2) plastic;

3) photographic;

4) violin makers;

5) industrial design;

6) architectural, architectural and urban planning and urban planning;

7) musical and verbal-musical;

8) stage, stage and music, choreography and pantomime;

9) audiovisual (including film).

The legislator did not mention the website directly in the catalog of works, however, due to the broad definition contained in para. 1 Art. 1, as well as the complex structure of the website, we can easily classify it as an object of copyright protection.

The website consists of two main components:

  • layout - the graphic part of the site, which includes the appearance of the page and the arrangement of all its elements. It consists of a range of colors, icons, graphics and fonts. Layout is also known as an interface.

  • technical elements - all information stored in the source code of the website.

The website is protected primarily as a whole - a combination of the layout and the technical part. Importantly, copyright protection may also apply to individual parts of the interface, in particular graphic elements or fonts, provided, however, that they meet the conditions listed in paragraph 1 Art. 1 of the Act - are of a creative and individual nature.

Copyright protection of the company's website

In the context of copyright protection of the company's website, the key issue is whether the entrepreneur commissioned the creation of the website from scratch, developing only the design, or maybe he created the website on an existing platform and used a ready interface. If the site has been entirely developed by a third party (for example, a contractor or a creative agency), that party owns all copyrights. Even the transfer of payment does not transfer these rights to the entrepreneur. In such a situation, it is necessary to conclude a contract transferring economic copyrights to him (remember that moral rights may not be transferred by the author to anyone). A similar situation occurs when a third party designs and creates the layout itself - then the author and the entrepreneur should also protect the interests of both parties by means of a contract for the transfer of proprietary copyrights.

If, on the other hand, the entrepreneur creates a portal on a platform that provides the source code and uses the ready interface, the scope of his copyrights is limited only to the content that he publishes on the created website. The copyright for the graphic part of the website will belong to the company that provided the code and layout. In such a situation, it is important to mark this company as the author of the website, not the user of the platform. If the entrepreneur, using a ready-made interface, labeled himself as its author, it would be misleading the recipients as to the authorship. The consequences of such an act are specified in Art. 115 sec. 1 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights.

Article 115. 1. Whoever appropriates the authorship or mislead as to the authorship of all or part of someone else's work or artistic performance, shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.

Company website as an employee work

The website of the enterprise may also be the work of an employee of the entrepreneur. Article 12 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights regulates this situation as follows:

Article 12. 1. Unless the law or the employment contract stipulate otherwise, the employer whose employee created the work as a result of the performance of duties under the employment relationship acquires, upon the acceptance of the work, proprietary copyrights within the limits resulting from the purpose of the employment contract and the unanimous intention of the parties.

As follows from the provision, the employer does not have to conclude a separate agreement with the employee on the transfer of proprietary copyrights, or even regulate this issue in the employment contract. The proprietary copyrights are transferred to it ex officio, as it were, unless the employment contract contains a different provision. However, the employer should remember that the mere fact of having economic copyrights to works created by an employee during work does not give him the same rights to works that were created outside the employment relationship, regardless of whether the employee created during working hours or used tools that belong to the employer. Unless otherwise stated by the parties, the employee is not entitled to a separate remuneration for the work, so he cannot make the publication of the work conditional on the payment of a separate sum.

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Copyrights to the website of the enterprise - criminal liability for infringement

Infringement of copyrights to corporate websites is a common phenomenon. Little public awareness and the availability of internet portals facilitate such activities. In combating such practices, entrepreneurs will especially find chapter 14 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights, as well as the Act on Combating Unfair Competition.

The penal provisions of the Copyright Act give the aggrieved party many options. He may demand that the infringement be ceased, demand that the consequences of the infringement be removed, or that the damage be financially compensated. The latter may take place on general principles or, if it is justified by circumstances, by payment of a sum of money corresponding to twice or even three times the appropriate remuneration, which at the time of its investigation would be due as a consent to use the work by the entitled person. It should be remembered that three times the remuneration may be demanded in a situation where the violation was culpable. If a court decides on the violation, it may, in addition to awarding a fine, restriction or deprivation of liberty, order the infringing party to publish the judgment in the press or pay an appropriate amount to the Creative Promotion Fund.

The Act on Combating Unfair Competition contains provisions that allow entrepreneurs whose copyrights have been infringed to claim their rights under civil law. The most complete regulation in this regard is Art. 18:

Art. 18 1. In the event of an act of unfair competition, the entrepreneur whose interest has been threatened or infringed upon, may request:

1) to refrain from unlawful actions;

2) removing the effects of prohibited activities;

3) submitting a single or multiple declaration with appropriate content and in an appropriate form;

4) repairing the damage caused, on general terms;

5) issuing unjustified benefits, on general terms;

6) adjudication of an appropriate amount of money for a specific social goal related to supporting Polish culture or protection of national heritage - if the act of unfair competition was culpable.