An academic lecture: between copyright and contract law – judgement issued by the Polish Supreme Court

The proper wording of an agreement governed by civil law to which a party is an entity that creates works can affect not only the scope of entitlements of the parties in terms of private law, but also, as the case may be, obligations arising under public law.

In the context of private law, where an agreement of this kind is entered into, fundamentally, the Polish Civil Code (text: ISAP), applies for assessment of the rights and obligations of the parties, while to the extent that the work is an artistic work the Polish Copyright Act of 4 February 1994 (text: ISAP) applies.

A dispute that has been adjudicated by the Polish Supreme Court (case no. II UK 184/15) revolved around the issue of the legal classification of an agreement between an employee in an academic post and an institution of higher education. The agreement concerned educational activities. The parties’ dispute before courts of consecutive instances concerned whether the agreement was a freelance service agreement (service provider), or an agreement for commission of a copyrightable work. In turn, this assessment affected the scope of applicability of provisions governing the social security system (including for instance the obligation to pay pension insurance contributions).

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