Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Poland

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Poland relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Poland must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Poland and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Poland, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.

Governing laws

Poland has been a member of the Berne Convention since 28 January 1920, the World Trade Organization since 1 July 1995 and the WIPO Copyright Treaty since 23 March 2004.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Act of February 4, 1994, on Copyright and Related Rights (as amended up Act of September 25, 2015) as the main IP law enacted by the legislature of Poland.[1] WIPO holds the Polish language text of the law as of 2015 with an automatic translation tool in their WIPO Lex database.[2] The act was retroactive, and reinstated copyright that had expired.[1996–2016 Art.124(3)]

Wikisource has an English translation of the original 1994 law.[3] Wikisource also has a Polish-language version as of 2016.[4] Tomasz Rychlicki provides information on some Polish copyright cases on his blog.[5]

General rules

Under the Consolidated 1994 Polish Copyright Law as of 2016,

  • Except as specified otherwise below, copyright expires 70 years from the author's death, or from the last surviving co-author's death with works of joint authorship.[1996–2016 Art.36(1)]
  • For anonymous or pseudonymous works copyright expires 70 years from date of first being made public, unless the pseudonym does not leave any doubts as to the author's identity or the author disclosed his identity.[1996–2016 Art.36(2)]
  • For work to which copyrights are entitled by law to a person other than the author, copyright lasts 70 years from the date of being made public, or from the date of creation if it was not made public in this period.[1996–2016 Art.36(3)]
  • For in an audiovisual work, copyright lasts 70 years from the death of the last survivor of the the main director, author of the script, author of dialogues and composer of music composed for the audiovisual work.[1996–2016 Art.36(4)]
  • For a musical work with words, if the words and music were composed specifically for this work, copyright lasts for 70 years from the death of the last survivor of the author of the words and composer of the music.[1996–2016 Art.36(5)]
  • The duration of copyright is counted in full years following the year in which the event occurred on which the duration is based.[1996–2016 Art.39]

Retroactive changes

Poland extended its copyright term to 50 years after the death of the author (or 50 years after publication for anonymous works) on May 23, 1994,[6] and then to 70 years on January 1, 2003.

This means that on the URAA date of January 1, 1996, the shorter term of 50 years was still valid. However, some of these works then became re-copyrighted in 2003 within Poland (and later the European Union) as the term extension explicitly also applied to works on which the copyright had already expired.

For photographs, the situation was different:

  • According to the Article 21 of the Copyright law of March 29, 1926 (valid until 1952) photographs lost copyright protection ten years after the picture was taken. Series of scientific or artistic pictures lost copyright protection after 50 years.[7]
  • According to Article 27 of the Copyright law of July 10, 1952 (valid until May 23, 1994) photographs and series of photographs lost copyright protection ten years after their publication date.[8]
  • However, the retroactive Polish Copyright Law of February 4, 1994, Article 124, put all those images back under copyright protection for 50 years since the death of the author.
  • An amendment passed in late 2002, effective January 1, 2003, retroactively extended terms to 70 years after the death of an author.

Not protected


See also: Commons:Unprotected works

Under the Consolidated 1994 Polish Copyright Law as of 2016, copyright protection does not cover:[1996–2016 Art.4]

  1. normative acts and drafts thereof as well as official documents
  2. official documents, materials, signs and symbols;
  3. published patent or protection descriptions;
  4. simple press information.

However in some instances the use of an image published by the government in Poland might be regulated by other laws. It is being debated if postage stamps and banknotes fall into this category. (See: {{PD-Polishsymbol}})

According to 2016 court decision photographs of maps, documents, medals, memorial plates do not enjoy their own copyrights.[9]

In the judgment of 27 February 2009 (V CSK 337/2008), the Supreme Court of Poland stated: "The official materials referred to in Article 4 §2 of the [Polish] Copyright Law Act should be understood as materials coming from an office or other institution performing public tasks."[10]

Additionally all content published on is under Creative-Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Copyright tags

See also: Commons:Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Currency

 Not OK. Polish National Bank requires written permission for reproduction of Polish banknotes and coins which are legal tender on the territory of the Republic of Poland in physical or electronic form.[11]

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OK. {{FoP-Poland}} (exterior only)

The copyright act from February 4, 1994 in article 33 point 1 allows one to propagate works that are permanently exhibited on the publicly accessible roads, streets, squares or gardens provided that the propagation is not for the same use. The name of the creator and source should be provided if it is possible by article 34. This use is royalty free, provided that it does not harm the legitimate interests of the creator by article 34.


See also: Commons:Stamps

Unclear According to Article 4, case 2 of the Polish Copyright Law Act of February 4, 1994 "normative acts and drafts thereof as well as official documents, materials, signs and symbols are not subject to copyrights". Such materials should use {{PD-Polishsymbol}}. Unfortunately it is unclear if Polish stamps and banknotes are considered official materials, signs or symbols by Polish law. In 2009 about 900 files with Polish stamps were deleted (see Commons talk:Stamps/Archive 1#Polish stamps are copyrighted for the discussion).

Threshold of originality

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

Per Tomasz Targosz (Institute of Intellectual Property Law, Jagiellonian University Kraków):

Polish copyright law has quite a long tradition of setting the threshold rather low, which may encourage frivolous lawsuits forcing courts to ponder whether simple graphic designs, short lines of text or even names should or should not be protected by copyright law.


See also


  1. a b Poland Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights). WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization (2018). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.
  2. Act of February 4, 1994, on Copyright and Related Rights (as amended up Act of September 25, 2015). Poland (2015). Retrieved on 2018-11-13.
  3. An English translation of the copyright act at Wikisource
  4. The original text of the copyright act at Wikisource (in Polish)
  5. Polish case law on copyright (in English) (9 December 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki). Retrieved on 2019-02-07.
  6. Original version of the February 4, 1994 law
  7. Copyright law of March 29, 1926 (In Polish)
  8. Copyright law of July 10, 1952 (In Polish)
  9. SA: nie każde zdjęcie podlega ochronie, 30 January 2017
  10. Wstępne stanowisko Polskiej Izby Książki (in Polish). Supreme Court of Poland. Retrieved on 2019-03-29. "Pod pojęciem materiałów urzędowych, o których mowa w art. 4 ust. 2 Pr.autor. rozumieć należy materiały pochodzące od urzędu lub innej instytucji wykonującej zadania publiczne."
  11. Good practice in the reproduction of images of banknotes and coins. Polish National Bank. Retrieved on 2019-03-29.
  12. Supreme Court, 22.06.2010, IV CSK 459/09 – Subject matter of copyright (in English) (2011-04-11). Retrieved on 2019-11-08.
Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer