WHO CAN DECIDE ABOUT THE FATE OF THE COPY OF A WORK

May 26, 2022

On the basis of the recent dispute over the transfer of works in the form of the installation “Gates” by prof. Grzegorz Klaman, a question arises about the scope of the rights of the owner of a copy of the work, the rights of the manager of the work in the context of the author’s personal copyright.

THE SUBJECT OF THE DISPUTE ABOUT “GATES”

“Gates” by prof. Klaman are a symbol of the beginning of a new era in the Polish political and social order, and were created to commemorate the August Agreements. The relationship of the Gates with the place where they were originally placed seems to be inextricably linked. The area of ​​the Gdańsk Shipyard together with the European Solidarity Center, whose structure and colors undoubtedly refer stylistically to the appearance of the artist’s Gates, were a key element of the artist’s concept.

The installation has been located in the same place for over 15 years, on the premises of the developer Euro Styl, but the installation itself is managed by the Road and Greenery Authority in Gdańsk. The artist claims that the developer moved the installation about 250 meters away without his consent. Ultimately, “Bramy” are to be part of the “Road to Freedom”, a project implemented by the city of Gdańsk, which is to combine recreational space with the commemoration of historical events about the city of Gdańsk.

The above facts are, of course, only inspiration for our theoretical deliberations on the rights and obligations of the parties. Without knowledge of the entirety of the legal relations of the parties, it is impossible to assess the legality of their actions. However, the situation is extremely interesting and its development will certainly be monitored by our law firm.

You can read more about “Gates” at the following links:

https://gaps.gda.pl/obiekt/brama-ii/

https://gaps.gda.pl/obiekt/brama-i/

OWNERSHIP OF THE WORK COPY

The key point of reference for determining the scope of the rights of the owner of a copy of the work is that by just purchasing a copy of the work, the buyer does not become the subject of economic copyrights. Of course, unless the parties expressly agreed otherwise in the contract.

This means that the buyer of a copy of the work may not use the rights that, in principle, the creator is entitled to, such as the rights to reproduce the work and benefit from it.

On the basis of the contract for the sale of a copy of the work, the buyer does not become the copyright holder, but only the owner of the thing, which would indicate that in accordance with Art. 140 of the Civil Code, he may “within the limits specified by the laws and principles of social coexistence, the owner may, with the exclusion of other persons, use things in accordance with the socio-economic purpose of his right, in particular he may receive benefits and other income from things. Within the same limits, he may dispose of a thing. ‘

Therefore, there is a conflict of absolute rights that are still vested in the creator of the work and the current owner of its copy. The effect of this is a significant limitation of ownership rights in favor of more important legal and copyright rights, in particular those rights that are personal and protect the special bond between the creator and the work.

Thus, it is recognized, in particular, that the owner of a copy of the work cannot benefit from the thing, make changes to it, process it or destroy it.

INTEGRITY OF THE CONTENT AND FORM OF THE WORK AND ITS RELIABLE USE

Personal copyrights protect the creator’s relationship with the work, and their catalog indicated in Art. 16 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights is only an example. They protect the creator’s bond with a specific work, and not with his artistic creation in general. Although they are not subject to waiver or sale, the way in which they are performed may be the subject of contracts concluded with third parties. These agreements, however, can be tested for compliance with the principles of social coexistence.

The law of inviolability of the content and form of the work means that no changes can be made to the work without the consent of its creator. However, the jurisprudence indicates that not every change in the work will violate the bond between the author and the work. It is through the prism of the artist’s emotional bond with the piece that we should distinguish those elements of the work that are important to her and those that do not affect this bond at all.

However, there are circumstances that require an individual approach due to the form of the piece. Yes, in the case of a sculpture, it should be noted that the relationship between the work and its material carrier is too close to be able to find such elements of the work, the change of which will not violate its integrity and, as a result, ties with the creator.

The fair use of the work relates to the circumstances in which the work is disseminated. Undoubtedly, this right of the author protects him against such use of the work that would damage its reputation or reduce its value. In particular, the work may not be used for political or social purposes that would be in opposition to the values ​​expressed by the work and the intentions of its creator.

In the present case, it would have to be determined whether the place where ‘Gates’ was made available to the public is part of the work itself. Or is the location of the work only part of the way it is used?

PROTECTION OF PERSONAL COPYRIGHT

In the event of a violation of the author’s moral rights, it is possible to pursue judicial discontinuation of the infringing actions, removal of their effects and payment of money as compensation for the harm suffered.

More about copyrights You will find here: https://bgpatent.pl/en/personal-copyright-vs-proprietary-copyright/

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