After almost a three year battle, Polish cinematographers/ directors of photography are starting a New Millennium as the co-authors of audiovisual creations recognized by Law!
The amendments to the Copyright Act were made by Polish Congress due to European Union Law in nineteen ninety-nine (1999) and in year two thousand (2000) and it has been in force since July 22nd, 2000.
Here are some of the fundamental expressions that apply to directors of photography
The article sixty-nine states now:
" Art.69. The co-authors of the audiovisual work are those, who had contributed to its creation, and in particular: the film director, the director of photography, the author of the screenplay, the composer of the music and the author of its lyrics."
The article seventy states now:
"Art. 70.1. The producer of the audiovisual work owns all commercial rights to operate those creations used in the audiovisual work as a whole, based on the Creation of Composition Act and on the Use of Existing Composition Act.
2. The film director, director of photography, screenplay writers, authors of other music or word compositions, that were made or used for the audiovisual work, and performing artists are entitled to a share of:
1) the benefit/payment proportional to the income from the projections of audiovisual work in movie theatres,
2) the appropriate payment relevant to the leasing, renting the copies of the audiovisual work and their public projections,
3) the appropriate payment relevant to the public transmissions on TV or by using other means of public transmission,
4) the appropriate payment relevant to all the copies made for personal use.
3. One using the audiovisual work must remit a payment, which is mentioned in passage 2, to the collecting society or a similar copyright agency.
4. The appropriate payment for using Polish audiovisual work abroad or using foreign audiovisual work in Poland might be arrived at a global figure of money."
The battle for including these several sentences that have changed the status of the director of photography in Poland, took me three years.
Here is a short resume of how it has all worked:
Since 1997 we have been collecting the signatures under the declaration supporting our efforts.
The very text of declaration was almost identical to the one made by colleagues from the AIC and the one that was signed for them by many members of the PSC.
Here is the text (in case anybody needs to use it):
A film as a work composed of IMAGES and SOUNDS, MUSIC and WORDS is created only thanks to the creative effort of many people with individual talents acting together in accordance with the views of the director. They are the authors working within their own field, with their own means of expression, who meet one another in the joint production, a film - an audio-visual work.
The art of film image / film photography - cinematography / in the literal translation of the word means writing with light in movement, and defines image in not just the visual sense. Film image, thanks to its unique and peculiar 'calligraphy', sinks deeply into the structure of cinematic work, with which it is inseparably connected. It always re-mains, however, a marked element created by a separate gift.
I see the fundamental importance of the legal definition of the responsibility for the artistic and technical quality of a film print in its many varieties.
I see the necessity of defense of not only the quality of audio-visual creation in all its glory, but first and foremost of the unswerving right of the audience to see the work in the perfect form, in the form imposed upon it according to the intentions of all its creators.
Is it not ludicrous that director, authors of the literary work and music scores are the only film creators recognized by law, whereas Film from its very inception uses IMAGES as its language?
As a consequence I believe that Director of Photography /Cinematographer/ should be recognized by law as the COAUTHOR OF FILM on the same level as the other Authors are recognized by law: Director, Author of Music, Author of Screenplay or Author of Dialogue.
First and second name (clearly)
In Poland the declaration was signed by:
Screenplay writers, film directors, actors – 76 signatures
Producers, chief production, lawyers – 33 signatures
Journalists, film critics – 16 signatures
Directors of photography – 119 signatures
Other occupations – 100 signatures
Total: 334 signatures
Beside this kind of support, I have asked a couple of leading film directors, screenplay writers and composers for written support, which was due to the expertise about the creative character of our work and the constructive contribution of every cinematographer to the audiovisual work. Such letters were written, for example, by: Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Hoffman, Krzysztof Piesiewicz and Michal Lorenc.
These letters were the supplement to our arguments that intended to convince the legislator and the congressmen about creative contribution to a film of every
All together I wrote:
The Congress Commission of Culture and the Congressmen – 38 letters
The Senate Commission of Culture – 25 letters
The Ministry of Art and Culture – 5 letters
From this place I would like to thank Mr. Jost Vacano for his text called:
"Directors of Photography and the Issue of Authorship of Audiovisual Works. An overview of the arguments in favor prepared for the members of IMAGO by Jost Vacano, BVK/ASC".
This wonderful study has been a great help to me on a number of occasions, especially in supporting our arguments to achieve our rights.
Here are some samples of the letters to the Congress and the Senate. Maybe they could help in later battles to our rights.
1. The first Passage comes from a letter to The Congress Commission of Culture:
" Mr. Chairman,
In opinion of the great majority of the film society, film directors, producers, screenplay writers, actors, film experts and the professors of the film schools:
the director of photography, as a co-author of the audiovisual work, must not be left out of The Copyright Act – the law regulations can not be incompatible with the facts.
There is no reason for the Copyright Act to be written at the dictation of radical advocate of anachronism, which does not show the facts of the case.
The director of photography is undoubtedly an author the film work. That is why without his/her contribution - as Andrzej Wajda says - we would only be able to make just one thing in place of a film: a radio play.
Although it is clear what individual, creative and artistic meaning to a film and a whole culture of the 20th century has the contribution made by cinematographers, we would like to emphasize that visual aspect of every film composition is due to their talent, artistic sensitivity, comprehensive studies/knowledge in the fields of art and self experience and as an intellectual wealth it is protected in a civilized world.
That is why we demand the director of photography ‘expresis verbis’ to be included in the Copyright Act as a co-author of the audiovisual work, to have just the same status and the same protection as others co-authors of any composition named in this document.
We are absolutely certain, that to be honest, if you look into the very merit of this case by such a competent body of Congress it will result in adding to the Copyright Act, this suitable legacy. Because of the significant value of the Copyright Act for the people of film, Mr. Senator Kazimierz Kutz had assured us about his willingness to work together with The Commission on a scale and range declared as suitable.
Andrzej J. Jaroszewicz Grzegorz Kedzierski
As a supplement we enroll:
- letter from A. Wajda
- copy of a letter by J.Hoffman
- copy of a document by K.Piesiewicz
- copy of a letter by M.Lorenc
- text of the supporting declaration with a list of above 300 signatures."
2. An extract from the letter to the Senate:
" Representing the opinion of all the generations of cinematographers – the authors of film photography and of all the members of Polish Society of Cinematographers being creatively active in a field of Polish cinematography, we are applying to You Madam and also to the Members of The Commission in case of the wrong-doing law regulation enclosed in a new Copyright Act, which has been just passed in Congress.
Although in the art.69 we are named as the co-authors of the audiovisual compositions, but next articles, especially art.70, which carries the consequences of the previews article, take away immediately our rights that are given to other co-authors. Everyone, except for cinematographers.
Leaving out the director of photography in art.70 of a new Copyright Act and not recognizing his/her copyrights – also the material ones – becomes an important gap that drives to misinterpretation of the real process of making audiovisual work. We are hoping that it has been just another "accident at work", and not another attempt to take away our rights.
Such regulation is not only incompatible with the definition of film as an audiovisual work enclosed in the Cinematography Act, which not only gives higher esteem to the artistic values, which are brought to us by image, but also common sense.
Our contribution to the audiovisual work is plain to see, and leading representatives of Polish cinematography emphasizes it: Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Hoffman, Krzysztof Piesiewicz and Michal Lorenc. With Your permission we are enrolling their letters as a supplement."
That second letter was written as an intervention after in a text of the amendment passed by Senate in art.70, somehow a word "cameraman" had "disappeared". In practice it meant that we were given the glory, but not the fees. Only after our strong and loud intervention, supported by the Senators, who were film directors, gave back the art.70 its right tone.
 This translation from Polish into English is not officially confirmed by a lawyer.