A court in Zielona Góra is to decide on whether the widow of singer-songwriter Czesław Niemen has the right to ban the use of her late husband’s name by a memorial association set up to honour him.
The Świebodzina-based Czesław Niemen Memorial Association holds an annual concert, to which fans flock to hear and sing his songs. But Małgorzata Niemen says that her late husband’s name is copyright, that she holds ownership of the rights, and that the association makes money from using the name.
Ms Niemen claims that the association sells books, T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs at the annual concert. However, lawyers for the association say that, if such souvenirs are sold, it is by a third party not connected with them. The books are generally written for free and given as gifts.
The association’s lawyers added that Ms Niemen should not have the right to regulate the memory of a ‘national treasure’, and that there was no objection to the creation of the association in 2008, four years after the singer’s death. They also raised the question of copyright ownership, saying that, under Polish law, Czesław Niemen’s daughter from his first marriage also held rights to his work.
One of the main concerns of the court will be whether the association, registered as a business, is in fact using the name for commercial purposes.
The multi-talented Niemen demonstrated skills in genres from rock to folk and jazz. His first studio album, Dziwny jest ten świat was produced in 1967 and was re-released five years later with English lyrics. Hear the title track from the album on Inside-Poland.com’s YouTube channel music playlist.