We use cookies to make sure our website better meets your expectations.
You can adjust your web browser's settings to stop accepting cookies. For further information, read our cookie policy.
IN Warsaw
Exchange Rates
Warsaw Stock Exchange - Indices
The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 2, 2009
Economic Forum in Krynica
You have to be logged in to use the ReadSpeaker utility and listen to a text. It's free-of-charge. Just log in to the site or register if you are not registered user yet.
Why Film Industry Needs Legal Eagles
September 2, 2009   
Article's tools:

Krzysztof Stefanowicz, senior partner at Salans law firm, talks to Beata Gołębiewska-Chęciak.

What do you think of Polish laws governing the film industry and copyright laws? Is the situation in Poland different from that in other countries?
From what I know of copyright laws in other countries, the Polish regulations do not differ fundamentally from others. Besides, the criterion in assessing copyright laws should not be how close they are to standards in other countries, but how efficient they are in guaranteeing the legal protection of artists here. What seems to be the problem in Poland is not the way the law is drawn up, but how it is enforced.

Obviously, since Poland became a member of the EU, Polish law has been undergoing harmonization with EU law. In principle, this process should improve copyright protection in Poland, but what I find worrying is the premature end of the discussion on whether Poland should use only copyrights or complement them with the American, patent-based system. For me, it is not obvious that the American system should be rejected outright.

What role can a law firm play in movie production?
By taking part in the process of producing a film, a law firm can turn it into a commercial project. The very fact of hiring a lawyer makes the production commercial, because from then on the film is no longer a work of art, but a business process which necessitates professional legal services. One of the most important tasks for lawyers is to safeguard the interests of the film makers in case of success, in order to prevent possible disputes over how the profits should be divided up. In other words, you need to realize that by arranging legal services for a project, a film maker assumes the project will be profitable. Having a lawyer involved can bring order and rationalize the production process. This, in turns, results in lower financial risk.

Lawyers have also played an increasingly important role in issues of personal interests protection.

Seeing how art is keen to break all taboos, it doesn't take much to start a conflict, offend someone's religious sensibilities or personal interests. A lawyer can warn an artist of possible threats of this nature when the script is still being written and suggest an alternative solution to an emerging dispute.

Which of the above services has your firm provided to clients?
We handled the legal side of the resumed production of the well-known movie Janosik directed by Agnieszka Holland. It was a time-consuming and complicated matter, especially because co-production was being considered. To date, we have helped start several successful co-productions and, interestingly enough, most of them were prepared by Polish producers. We provided comprehensive consultancy services and entire sets of contracts.

We have also been approached on numerous occasions about cases concerning conflicts over copyright. It is a challenge for a law firm to tackle a case where it is hard to determine who holds the copyright and from which point. Movies are extremely complex projects with many people having an impact on their final shape and therefore the boundaries in copyrights are extremely blurred.

We have also had the pleasure of working on a movie project which involved funding by local government authorities and it seems to have been a success, because we have been hearing news of a growing number of local authorities taking part in film productions. You need to remember that these can turn out to be more than mere promotional projects and can mean actual profits for a local authority.

Can a law firm help a client to obtain EU funding and other forms of financing for a movie production?
Of course. We are working on several such projects as we speak. We are preparing special organizational and legal formulae for our clients, to help them to obtain funds to subsidize production. In a way, lawyers these days are business advisers. Their remit goes beyond checking how business solutions comply with the law. We help our clients build business structures, which you can see particularly clearly in movie productions. Film makers have their artistic vision and to make the vision real, they need financial resources. In order to obtain funding, you need to turn your work of art into a commercial product, or in other words, give it an organizational and legal framework. This is what we do.

Are there many disputes in Poland concerning copyright law and unfair competition? If so, why?
Poland is increasingly turning into a society of creators and so more issues are subject to copyright protection.

However, there is still a mental barrier in Poland, even in the law enforcement system, because Polish people do not perceive the protection of artistic rights as something comparable to protection of property rights, such as in real estate. As a result, artists are reluctant to resort to legal action and enforce their rights. I think they are still not convinced about the effectiveness of suing.
© The Warsaw Voice 2010-2018
E-mail Marketing Powered by SARE