Copyright - who is entitled to protection under it?


The Copyright and Related Rights Act presupposes that the creator is a person whose name in this capacity has been shown on copies of the work or whose authorship has been made public in any other way in connection with the dissemination of the work. This presumption may be rebutted by proving that the author is a different person than that indicated on the copy of the work (rebuttal is possible because placing the name of a specific person on a copy of the work cannot be decisive in determining authorship).

Does the creator have copyright?

Pursuant to Art. 8 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights, the author is entitled to, unless the Act provides otherwise. The creator is the subject of a creative act, the end result of which is the creation of a work of an individual character (individual, previously unknown), i.e. a work. The creator is always a natural person (so it cannot be an animal - although there are known cases of works created by chimpanzees or elephants - a legal person (e.g. a company) or an organizational unit that is not a legal person). Moreover, the question of determining the authorship of the work cannot be subject to the will of the parties - this means that the parties cannot agree (e.g. in a contract) that one of them will create the work, and the other will become its creator. For the creation of authorship, neither the legal capacity, nor the mental state, age, intention or awareness of creating a work is important.

The reservation "unless the law provides otherwise" contained in the aforementioned provision refers to the division of copyrights into personal and property rights. At the time of creating the work, the creator is entitled to both moral and economic copyrights. The moral rights are inalienable, while the property rights may be transferred to another entity (which will not be referred to as the creator, but only the entity or owner of economic copyrights).

Disclosure of authorship is the personal right of the creator. It is he who decides whether to make available the work signed with his name, or anonymously or under a pseudonym. As long as the author does not disclose his authorship, in the implementation of the copyright law, he is replaced by the producer or publisher, and in the event of their absence - by the competent organization for collective copyright management.

Songs created on a computer may cause problems. It is not about situations when it is a tool of the creator (because then the determination of authorship does not create problems), but about situations when the status of a "work" generated by a computer or a computer program is not fully defined. For example: can a computer game record be considered to justify granting a player author status? Can such a record be treated as a work? It is assumed that because he does not create the piece according to his will (it does not have a complete influence on what the piece should look like), it only runs the program sequences (variants) previously determined by the programmer of a given computer game.

The case of computer-generated works is a bit different (it is not possible to ascribe authorship directly to a human). In such situations, the dominant view is that the resulting product is not a work because it does not come from a human being. In line with other opinions, it should be considered that the creator of such a work is the author of the program (the fact that he could not predict the final content and form of the work does not prevent him from stating that he is the author).

Co-authorship - who has the copyright?

A work may not only be the result of the creative activity of one person, but also the result of the work of many people. In this case, we are dealing with co-authorship.

It should be remembered that the work of several people on the work does not necessarily mean that each of them contributed creative to the work. In order to determine whether it is a co-authoring work, it is necessary to analyze the contributions of individual people and, above all, to check whether these contributions were creative or merely auxiliary, technical (e.g. a person who edits or proofreads a literary work will not considered a co-author). The Supreme Court clearly stated on this subject in the judgment of 19 July 1972 (II CR 557/71, OSN 1973, No. 4, item 67): "Co-creation - within the meaning of copyright law - does not take place when the cooperation of a specific person it is not creative, but auxiliary, even if the ability to perform auxiliary activities requires a high degree of professional knowledge, dexterity and personal initiative ”. We will deal with co-creativity when people have agreed to create a joint work (e.g. in the form of a contract or it results from implied actions).

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The co-authors have the copyright jointly (i.e. the conclusion of a license agreement for the use of the work requires the consent of all authors). The share of each of the co-authors generally corresponds to the amount of the author's contribution to the joint work. Contributors may enter into an agreement prior to the creation of the work specifying the size of each shareholding and how their rights will be exercised. If the shares are not specified, they are presumed to be equal. In the event of a dispute, each of the authors may request the court to determine the size of individual shares on the basis of contributions to creative work.

As indicated above, it is required that the copyright for the work in its entirety be approved by all contributors. If any of the authors does not agree, each of the co-authors has the right to apply to the court for a decision on this issue. The court should adjudicate in such a case, taking into account the interests of all co-authors, not only the author who did not consent. However, consent is not required if the co-author decides to dispose of the right to the part created by him, as long as it does not prejudice the rights of the other co-authors.

In the event of infringement of the rights to a joint work, each of the authors may assert claims resulting from this infringement. Everyone will receive the benefit

co-authors in an amount proportional to their shares.

Combined works and collective works

Composite works are works that are created by combining separate works for the purpose of joint dissemination (e.g. a combination of choreography and music). Such works may only be distributed with the consent of all authors.

Collective works, on the other hand, consist of various materials or works gathered into a single whole. The whole thing has the right concept, main idea and layout. Such works are therefore protected by copyright as long as the selection, arrangement or compilation adopted in them is of a creative nature. Collective works will include, for example, encyclopedias, dictionaries, commemorative books, as well as multimedia works. Proprietary copyrights to a collective work, in particular to an encyclopedia or periodical publication, are vested in the producer or publisher, and in the case of individual parts having independent significance - their authors. It is also presumed that the producer or publisher is entitled to the title.

Other Rightholders

We have already talked about the rights relating to the employee work or scientific works.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the legal successors of copyright. As you know, moral rights are inalienable and therefore cannot be inherited (i.e. the authorship of a work may not be transferred). Only copyrights are subject to inheritance - they may be the subject of both statutory and testamentary inheritance. This is because economic copyrights, unlike personal rights, are not closely related to the author. The inheritance is also subject to the rights and obligations arising from the agreements on proprietary copyrights and claims related to the pursuit of claims for infringement of copyright.

It is worth noting that in the case of co-authorship of a work, if the copyrights of one of the co-authors were to fall to the State Treasury as the statutory heir, this part is transferred to the surviving co-authors or their legal successors, according to the size of their shares.