The area of media law is broad, reflecting the diversity of media activity. Media law concerns issues relating to copyright, press law, advertising law, broadcasting and supply of audiovisual media services, as well as the Internet.
Disputes arising from media activity may be resolved before the common courts or in arbitration, including before arbitration courts of self-regulatory institutions such as the Advertising Council.
The most frequent disputes pending before civil courts include:
- Defamation cases and disputes under the Press Law
- Conflicts with copyright management organisations, particularly over fees
- Disputes over copyright to works published in the media (e.g. texts, photographs, drawings and recordings)
- Unfair competition disputes pertaining to advertising in competing media.
A separate issue is non-adversarial disputes between copyright users and collective rights management organisations. Such disputes are brought before the Copyright Commission appointed by the Minister of Culture. Certain types of disputes over royalties cannot be brought in court without first appearing before the Copyright Commission. Under a new concept presented in the amended Copyright Act, a decision by the Copyright Commission may be appealed to the regional court appointed by the Minister of Justice.
Common courts and arbitration courts also resolve media-related contractual disputes. Since the media market is developing rapidly and new advertising products are constantly being created, agreements are often unclassified under Polish civil law and present precedent-setting issues.
Disputes over electronic media activity may arise involving the state authorities in this area—the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council or the President of the Office of Electronic Communications. Decisions of these authorities may be appealed to the administrative courts and to a special section of the Warsaw Regional Court, respectively.
In many respects, media enterprises function like any other enterprise. They are established, acquired, merged and liquidated. At times they go bankrupt. They hire employees and establish principles of cooperation with customers. All of these areas of activity provide grounds for judicial or arbitration disputes. Such disputes, whether involving employment, commercial or corporate matters, may seem no different from other disputes. However, experience shows that they always contain some element specific to the media sector which must be properly understood to achieve the optimal outcome.