Protect photos and product descriptions from unauthorized copying


Each online store has photos and descriptions of the goods it offers. Often, store owners, wanting to distinguish their products from the competition, take original photos, create original descriptions and specifications. Currently, photos and descriptions of products used in online stores have a measurable and considerable value. Therefore, protecting your product photos and descriptions is very important. It is worth finding out what you can do to protect your rights to the content posted on the website!

Protection of photos and descriptions of products posted on the Internet

Photos and descriptions of products posted on the website will be legally protected if they can be classified as a work within the meaning of the Copyright and Related Rights Act.

Photos and descriptions of products posted on the website, if they are a work, are protected by law, without the need to complete any formalities.

Pursuant to Art. 1 clause 1 of the above-mentioned act, a work is any manifestation of creative activity of an individual nature, established in any form, regardless of its value, purpose and manner of expression.

The jurisprudence emphasizes that The work should be the result of creative activity, leading to the creation of a subjectively new product of the intellect. This feature of a work is sometimes referred to as originality. For this reason, the effect of a purely routine, template activity, determined (by destiny, material, binding patterns), depriving the creator of the freedom to make choices, cannot be classified as a work. At the same time, it should be emphasized that the mere manifestation of creative activity is not a sufficient condition to qualify a specific product as an object of copyright, because it is necessary that the product is also characterized by individuality. This means that self-produced intellectual products can be considered a work if they show sufficiently significant differences from previously manufactured intellectual products. Commentary on the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in Szczecin of 20 September 2014, I ACa 574/14.

Pursuant to Art. 17 of the Act, the author has the exclusive right to use the work and dispose of it in all fields of use, as well as to remuneration for the use of the work.

As the author, after determining that the descriptions and photos in a given case constitute a work, you can request that other users not use the content you have created or demand remuneration for such action.

How to prove the authorship of photos and descriptions?

As already indicated above, no formal action is required in order to guarantee copyright protection. There is also no need to watermark descriptions and photos with the word "All rights reserved", or to include reservations regarding the rights to them in the website regulations. This does not mean, however, that such activities are irrelevant to the protection of your rights, as they have a significant informative value.

It is worth taking such and other technical measures to ensure in the future, even in the event of a court dispute, the possibility of proving your authorship. An example of protecting yourself against such a circumstance is hiding another file in a .jpg file with a photo.

What to do when our content rights are violated?

If your copyrights to photos and descriptions have been infringed, the infringer must first be obliged to remove the content from their website. If an attempt to settle the matter amicably fails - as an author, you can assert your rights both in civil and criminal law.

An author whose moral rights have been threatened by someone else's action may demand that such action be discontinued. In the event of an infringement, it may also request the person who committed the infringement to perform the actions necessary to remove its effects, and in particular to make a public statement of an appropriate content and form. If the infringement was culpable, the court may award the creator an appropriate sum of money as compensation for the harm suffered or - at the creator's request - oblige the perpetrator to pay an appropriate sum of money for the social purpose indicated by the creator.

On the other hand, in the event of a violation of the author's property rights, he may demand from the person who violated these rights:

  • non-infringement;

  • remove the effects of the breach;

  • compensation for the damage caused on the general principles resulting from the Civil Code or by payment of a sum of money in the amount corresponding to twice, and if the infringement is culpable - three times the appropriate remuneration, which at the time of its investigation, would be due as the authorized consent to use the work;

  • release of obtained benefits;

  • a single or multiple announcement in the press of a declaration of appropriate content and form, or disclosure to the public of part or all of the court ruling issued in the case under consideration, in the manner and to the extent specified by the court.

As the author, for infringement of your economic copyrights, you are entitled to a claim for compensation on general terms or at your choice - lump-sum compensation in the amount of twice or three times the fee for using photos and product descriptions.

On the other hand, those who appropriate the authorship or mislead as to the authorship of all or part of someone else's work or artistic performance are subject to criminal liability. This act is punishable by a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to 3 years. The same penalty is subject to:

  • a person distributing someone else's work in its original version or in the form of a study without giving the name or pseudonym of the author;

  • a person who publicly distorts such a work, performance, phonogram, videogram or broadcast.

  • a person who, in order to gain financial benefits or otherwise, infringes someone else's copyrights and related rights.

A person who fails to perform the obligations specified in the Act shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

Protection of photos and product descriptions and combating unfair competition

Pursuant to Art. 3 of the Act on Combating Unfair Competition, an act of unfair competition is an act that is against the law or morality, if it threatens or violates the interest of another entrepreneur or client. Such acts are, in particular, misleading designation of goods or services, imitation of products or unfair advertising.

Therefore, if you have created descriptions and photos of products, and another entrepreneur uses them to conduct business, then if such behavior harms the reputation and good name of your business - you can use the instruments provided for by the Act on Combating Unfair Competition. An entrepreneur who violates the principles of fair competition should take into account both civil and criminal liability.