Amendments to the Polish copyright law – July 2015

Recently, intense work on amendment to the Act of 4th February 1994 on copyright and related rights has been in progress. Some of the changes have already been introduced to the legal system, and legislative work on some other is well under way.


On 14th July 2015, the so called minor amendment to the copyright law became effective relating to the term of protection of artistic performances. It implements the Directive 2011/77/UE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27th September 2011 on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights.

The most important changes made by virtue of the minor amendment to the copyright law include extension of the term of protection of artistic performances fixed in phonograms from 50 to 70 years. In case of the phonograms published, the term of protection expires after seventy years following the year when the phonogram is published. In case of unpublished phonograms – from the day of their communication to the public.

The Act introduces also additional guarantees for performers and their heirs after fifty years of protection.

As regards remuneration of performers, the Act provides for payment after fifty years of protection of supplementary remuneration amounting to 20% of the income of a phonogram producer derived in the previous year from the reproduction, distribution and making available of the phonogram in question.


Work is in progress on the so called major amendment to the copyright law which on 10th July 2015 was passed by the Sejm and currently is waiting for approval of the Senate.

The bill submitted by the Culture and Mass Media Commission is aimed at adjusting the Polish copyright law to the EU directives and relates to such issues as “extent of permitted use”, “orphaned works” or “works unavailable out of commerce”.

The right to give a quotation

Limits have been set on the “right to give a quotation”. The new article 29 of the copyright law will read as follows: “In the works forming a self-contained whole, it is allowed to quote fragments of distributed works and distributed artistic works, photographic works or minor works in their entirety, to the extent justified by the purposes of a quotation such as explanation, polemics, critical and scientific analysis, teaching or the laws of a kind of artistic work”.

Additional provisions have been inserted saying that it is allowed to use the works for the purposes of a parody, pastiche or caricature to the extent justified by the laws of these kinds of artistic work as well as to use a work included unintentionally in another material, unless it is of no significance to such material.

It is an extension of the right to give a quotation as compared to the rules applicable so far, and while assessing permissibility thereof the purpose of a quotation is decisive.

Permitted use

The amendment introduces new forms of permitted use, such as:

  • use within the limits justified by the purpose of information from political speeches and speeches given at public debates as well as excerpts from public appearances, lectures and sermons, however, without the right to publish collections of this kind of works;
  • use of the works during religious ceremonies and official celebrations organized by public authorities;
  • public performance or playback of distributed work with the use of devices or carriers being at the same place as the audience during school and academic events.

The scope of permitted educational use was also redefined:

Scientific institutions, colleges and entities are to be authorized to use distributed work to illustrate the content presented for teaching purposes or to carry out scientific research and also to reproduce for the purpose distributed minor work or excerpts from major work. In case of such work being made available to the public, e.g. on e-learning platforms, it will be permitted to a limited circle of persons identified by the user.

A provision was also introduced allowing to place for teaching and scientific purposes distributed minor work or excerpts from major work in textbooks, extracts and anthologies, however, for payment of remuneration to the author.


In the amended Act, there will also be a regulation concerning caching, that is to say brief storing in temporary memory of copies of content viewed on the Internet.

Pursuant to the new article 271, temporary reproduction of transitory or incidental nature, having no independent economic significance, and being an integral and essential part of technological process the aim of which is only to allow transmission of a work in the computer system among third parties through an intermediary or lawful use of the work, shall not require permission of the author.

Orphaned work

The bill contains also detailed regulations concerning the so called orphaned work, that is to say such work where persons who have the proprietary copyright thereof have not been identified or found. The bill specifies a number of institutions who may reproduce and make such work available to the public. The use of orphaned work shall be allowed to achieve statutory objectives serving the public interest of authorized organizations who may also collect revenue on that account intended for digitalization and making the works available.

However, the earlier ineffective careful search for entitled entities.

Work out of commerce

The amendment to the copyright law covers also the works out of commerce. These are the works published in books, dailies, magazines or other forms of printed publications, if they are not available to readers in commerce with the permission of authorized entities who have the proprietary copyright either in the form of copies distributed in a number meeting the needs of readers or by making them available to the public in such a way that everyone could have access to them at the place and time chosen.

Under the new regulations, archives, educational institutions, colleges and research establishments shall be allowed – having obtained consent of a relevant organization of collective copyright management concerning the work being on the list of works out of commerce – to reproduce such works being stored by them and make them available to the public in such a way that everyone could have access to them at the place and time chosen.