Prawa autorskie

Copyright is a set of rules aimed at protecting creative activity i.a. scientific, literary and artistic.  It includes the results of the individual creative activity which fulfils the conditions of being a work.  Copyright gives authors the exclusive right to use or to authorise others to use their works in a specific way, which makes it possible for authors to control their work and receive adequate remuneration.

The subject of copyright are, inter alia:  works:

  • expressed in a word, mathematical symbols, graphic symbols (literary, current affairs, scientific, cartographic and computer programs)
  • plastic
  • photographic
  • luthier
  • industrial design
  • architecture
  • music
  • stage, choreographic and pantomimic
  • audio-visual (including cinematographic).

Work understood as an intangible legal asset should be the result of human activity, creative expression of individual character (different from those previous).

  • Discoveries, ideas, procedures, methods and rules of operation and mathematical concepts are not legally protected.
  • Copyright does not include, inter alia, legislative acts, official documents and simple press information.

Protection of the works

In accordance with the copyright law protection arises at the time of so-called establishing of work.  This is a situation in which other people can get acquainted with the work (and not, for instance, its formal issue).  To ensure the protection resulting from copyright law it is not necessary to complete the work.

The holder of copyright is the author.  A creator may only be a natural person.  Co-author is entitled to the copyright jointly

That protection applies to the creator of the work irrespective of complying with formalities ( one does not need to notify, register a work in order to be covered by the rights as an author)

Moral and economic rights

Author's rights consist of moral and economic. Moral rights are linked to the author and are not subject to sale or waiver (they are not transferable).  After the death of the author his rights are transferred to his family.  They last indefinitely.  They give the author the right, inter alia, to: designate the work with their name or pseudonym, inviolability of content and form of the work, deciding about the first communication of work to the public, monitoring the use of the work.

Economic copyrights enable authors to take any actions enabling other entities to exploit their works.  They are subject to a commercial transaction and last 70 years after the death of the author.

Economic copyright can be transferred to other persons by way of inheritance or on the basis of:

  • a sales contract,
  • the licence agreement - it entitles to benefit from a work for a period of 5 years in the territory of the State in which the licensee has its registered office (unless otherwise provided in the agreement).  After the expiry of this deadline, the right acquired under the licence expires.

The issue of contracts for the transfer of rights is regulated by the Act on Copyright.  Such agreements shall be in writing.

The agreement should cover, inter alia, issues such as:  the remuneration of the author, the duration of the contract, the conditions of terminating the contract.  If these are not established then the contract must be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of copyright law.

Key elements of the contract for the purchase of economic right are the fields of exploitation, namely how and where a work may be used.

In the case of infringement of copyrights, author can assert his claims set out in the Code, either civil or criminal (including imprisonment).

Permitted use

Copyright law allows for the use of works for their own use without authorisation (for leisure, studies, collection, archival).  Scope of personal use covers family members and .

Copyright and the staff

As an employer, you should know that you acquire the economic copyright to a work created by an employee in the workplace at the time of acceptance of the work (adoption by the employer shall be effected by the submission of a declaration of acceptance or after 6 months from the date of delivery of the work by the author).  Of course, if generated as a result of the performance of the contract of employment.

An exception is made for computer programs having characteristics of the work.  If they were created by an employee as a result of the obligations arising from the employment relationship, economic copyright arises from the outset in favour of the employer.  The worker continues to be the author entitled to economic copyright.

The employer shall obtain economic copyright only to the extent resulting from the purpose of employment contract and conforming to the intentions of the parties.  In the employment contract (or a separate contract), an employer may arrange with an employee a different rule of division of economic copyright e.g. joint-ownership

An employee is not entitled to separate remuneration for the creation of a staff work unless provided for by the contract.

If the worker is employed, for example under a contract of mandate and if you want to avoid problems with copyright, you should include clauses in the contract on the transfer of economic copyright (indicating the scope of use), to which the author agrees to transfer his rights.

Copyright in practice

Please note that copyright works both ways, that is to say:

  • on the one hand, I can protect my work - as e.g. prepared architectural design, photographs, text or presentation,
  • on the other hand, I cannot infringe the copyright of others and, for example, I cannot make use the graphic symbol prepared for a given website or without the author's consent use a text or photos.

Detailed information on copyright law can be found here:

Other obligations connected with copyright

Producers and importers of products such as, inter alia:  magnetic tape recorders, photocopiers, scanners and other similar appliances, clean storage media used for recording are required to pay fees for authors and publishers.

  • creators
  • performers
  • producers of phonograms and videograms,
  • publishers.

These fees in an amount not exceeding 3 % of the amount due from the sale of such equipment or media - are paid via a collecting society.

The fees for authors are paid by the holders of reprographic equipment (e.g. photocopiers) engaged in the economic activity in the field of reproduction of works for personal use of third parties. 

E.g. photocopying fees are charged by two organisations: "Polish Book" (for publishers) and Kopipol (for authors).  This issue is regulated by the Regulation of the Ministry of Culture of 27 June 2003 on the fees paid by holders of reprographic equipment.


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