Work fields - what is it?


The Act on Copyright and Related Rights does not explicitly say what we should understand as the field of work exploitation. In art. 17 we can find a provision stating that the author has the full right to use the work - he has both personal and property rights. He may freely dispose of these rights (excluding, of course, the right to dispose of moral rights) and use the work in all its fields of exploitation.

Work fields

Although the creator may delegate some of his rights to someone, he always has the opportunity to use the work in all fields of exploitation, including those still unknown. The author's rights may not be transferred entirely to someone else - hence it is so important to precisely define the permitted areas of use of the work in the contract.

Although this provision explains to us the need to conclude contracts transferring copyrights in strictly defined areas, it does not define the notion of fields of exploitation of a work. In order to understand what it means, one should refer to the examples mentioned by the legislator in Art. 6 of the Act. On its basis, as well as on the basis of the interpretation and comments to the Act, the following fields of exploitation of the work can be listed:

  • public plays of works,

  • public performance of works (including live performance),

  • displays and public plays of audiovisual works,

  • borrowing copies of works recorded, e.g. on CDs, cassettes and other sound and image carriers,

  • recording and reproduction of works,

  • broadcasting works by radio and TV stations,

  • use of works on direct access networks, such as the internet,

  • staging stage, musical and choreographic works (dramas, comedies, musicals, operas, ballets and other similar works).

Joke. 6, we can therefore deduce the scope of the fields of exploitation of the work. In art. 50, the legislator organizes this concept by dividing it into three main categories:

Art. 50 Separate fields of exploitation include in particular:

1) in terms of recording and reproducing the work - producing copies of the work using a specific technique, including printing, reprographic, magnetic recording and digital technology;

2) in terms of trading in the original or copies on which the work has been recorded - marketing, lending or renting the original or copies;

3) in the scope of disseminating the work in a manner other than specified in point 2 - public performance, exhibition, display, reproduction, broadcasting and rebroadcasting, as well as public disclosure of the work in such a way that everyone can access it at the place and time by himself chosen.

The concept of the fields of exploitation of a work can therefore be defined as a way of using the work, regardless of the means that were used for this purpose. This concept is very broad, and the wording used by the legislator is quite general, so the list contained in the act cannot be treated as complete and exhaustive. The constant development of technology also contributes to the expansion of the catalog of fields of exploitation.

We can therefore complete the above definition - the field of exploitation of a work is the way of using the work, regardless of the means that have been used for this, provided that they are technically independent, i.e. separate and not duplicating existing technological solutions.

Work fields in contracts

The precise definition of the fields of exploitation of the work is important, especially in the context of concluding contracts for the transfer of proprietary copyrights or license agreements. Article 41 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act clearly states that the license or contract that transfers economic copyrights must contain a clause specifying the fields of exploitation it concerns.

The omission of this point may raise serious doubts as to the validity of the contract, at least in the part concerning the use of the work. This is related not only to the protection of the author's copyrights, but also to the remuneration that he is entitled to for granting a license or transferring economic copyrights. This issue is regulated by Art. 45 of the Act:

Art. 45 Unless the contract provides otherwise, the author shall be entitled to separate remuneration for the use of the work in each separate field of exploitation.

The author of the work should, therefore, in order to protect his own interests, ensure that the contract includes regulations concerning the fields of exploitation of the work and the remuneration for each of them.

Unknown fields of exploitation of the work

In the act, we can also find a provision (Art. 41) stating that the fields of exploitation of the work indicated in the contract must be known at the time of its conclusion. This provision is also a measure of protection of the author of the work - it prevents the inclusion of clauses in contracts that would allow the use of the work in a way that neither party could have foreseen, and which could harm the interests of the creator.

In the event of the emergence of a new medium of communication that would open up new ways of using the work, an annex should be added to the license agreement or the copyrights transfer agreement, in which the parties will precisely indicate the way of using the work and the space in which it would take place - an example may be the Internet, relatively new medium. The author, when granting a license to use the work on the Internet, should indicate exactly which use he / she agrees to - sharing on one portal, sending by e-mail, broadcasting in the form of a podcast. The Internet offers many possibilities of using works. It can be similar with each new field of exploitation of the work.