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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I permitted a virtual museum to display a book I wrote but

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I permitted a virtual museum to display a book I wrote but now wish to withdraw my permission to display my work because I will publish my book.
The Museum President refuses to remove my material.

Could you explain your situation in a little more detail please including whether was an agreement for this to continue, whether you’ve been paid, why you want to remove it. Why is president of the museum refusing? Where is the museum president or/and museum based?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I became a member of an internet Group - Kresy-Siberia who have a virtual museum. The Kresy Siberia Foundation comes under Polish law presumably although it is a UK charity. I said I was writing a book which I was asked to send to a trustee. I was asked to send my material to be uploaded into the Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum and I did. My attention was NOT drawn to any formal statement nor was a formal agreement made nor was money paid. Later I learned that by uploading material to the museum I was agreeing to granting them permission and my attention was directed to the statement
"By posting content, you are giving Kresy-Siberia and those authorized by Kresy-Siberia, permission in perpetuity to use it for any education, promotional, or other standard Museum purpose" No formal agreement was signed. None of the original trustees ( and I became a trustee) remain with the museum which is totally in the hands of one man. Conflict arose over governance and financial issues. He was removed from the Board of American Trustees , and from the Canadian Board. He has harassed and threatened the former UK trustees. I am now in the process of having my book ( a family history ) published and would prefer if it were not on public display. The Museum President will draw social media attention to the same book in his museum. I made 3 requests to have my material removed. I did not give him a reason. His reply was that the Executive committee of the Foundation would consider my request. In response to my second request, he diverted attention to another issue and threatened me with defamation because I was one of four people who complained about 'A conflict of interest issue' to the UK Charity Commission (See their reply attached) He also threatened me with illegally using listings of email addresses of other members. ( Everyone who worked for the museum had access to this list). The president is based in Australia but the Kresy-Siberia Foundation was originally set up in Warsaw, although they no longer have offices there. Two managers of the Warsaw office no longer work there. (More conflict). Thank you for your prompt reply.

If it is a UK charity, is unlikely to be governed by Polish law.

The website may be able to rely on their terms and conditions but only if their terms and conditions were brought to your attention at the time that you posted the work online. You will have seen the online websites where you buy things, you have to tick a box to confirm that you have read, understand and agree to their terms and conditions. Some websites don’t actually have that but they have a very prominent message by the “proceed” button to the same effect. If their terms and conditions are hidden on the website and you didn’t know that you are agreeing to this (not reading the and not understanding them is not the same) then you have given them permission to do with it as they wish. In that case, there would be nothing you could do about this.

Assuming that these terms and conditions were not prominent or you didn’t have to do make a positive decision to accept them, then they use the work under a licence and the nature of a licence is that it can be terminated on reasonable notice.

It depends whether this charity would go to the ends of the earth to keep the work on their website and whether, if you threaten to take them to court, or actually took them to court, they would spend money in defending the proceedings because there is always a risk that they would lose and you would get costs awarded against them.

At present, they are ignoring your requests but they may not ignore a letter from a solicitor threatening legal proceedings if they do, they may not ignore the actual issue of legal proceedings which would be for an injunction to make them remove the work. The court would have to decide whether you had given a lifelong agreement or not.

On a practical basis, you say it’s a UK charity but I don’t know if they have a presence in the UK. If they only have a physical presence in Poland and the terms of the website and posting things online are indeed under Polish law that you will have to issue legal proceedings in Poland with all the problems that entails. You would need to speak to a Polish lawyer about how to do that. That is going to be complicated, potentially risky and certainly not cheap.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to use the rating service to rate positive. It’s an important part of the process so that experts get paid.

Best wishes.


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