Using Someone Else’s Image Without Consent for Publication in Poland

The image is a personal good protected by several laws according to Polish law. In the vast majority of situations, it is necessary to obtain consent for the publication of someone else’s image in Poland under the penalty of a claim for damages and cessation of further violations.

As a rule, disseminating someone else’s image in Poland requires the permission of the person depicted. In the absence of an explicit reservation, permission is not required if the person has received an agreed payment for posing. Such consent cannot be presumed. It is recommended to obtain written consent.

Polish law does not require obtaining permission for the dissemination of an image:

– of a well-known person if the image was taken in connection with performing public functions, especially political, social, or professional functions (for example, during a public event);
– of a person who is only a detail of a larger whole such as a gathering, landscape, or public event.

Moreover, it is not allowed to publish the image and other personal data of individuals against whom preparatory or judicial proceedings are pending, as well as the image and other personal data of witnesses, victims, and injured parties in the Polish press, unless these individuals consent to it.

An employer in Poland cannot freely dispose of an employee’s image. To disseminate an employee’s image, a Polish employer must obtain the employee’s consent. In the absence of such consent, the employer must accept the employee’s objection to the dissemination of their image.

Polish copyright law provides the following measures for protecting the image if the dissemination of the image was illegal, i.e., there was an infringement of personal rights:

1 – Demand to cease the action — if the dissemination of a person’s image occurred without their consent, the person may demand that the responsible party cease the action, for example, by removing the image;
2 – Demand to remedy the effects of the infringement — if the action has caused harm, the injured person may demand the removal of its effects. If the person’s image has been placed on the internet or has become available to an unrestricted circle of people and was further disseminated, the injured person may demand that the perpetrator remove the images from other sites or publicly apologize for their actions in the form of an appropriate statement.

In the age of ubiquitous media, multichannel communication, and the ease of taking photos or videos, knowledge about the regulations governing the dissemination of images is becoming increasingly necessary. With this knowledge, we are aware not only of what we and others can do but also gain knowledge on how to assert rights and claims if someone unlawfully uses our image.


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Attorney-at-law Joanna Susło, Ph.D.
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