City Council Guilty Of Dwarf Copyright Infringement

A dwarf copyright infringement case involving former Orange Alternative leader Waldemar "Major" ​Fydrych and Wrocław city council, has come to an end after almost four years of legal wrangling.

Waldemar​ Frydrych argued that the dwarf used by the city (photographed above right) was copied from his original version (above left). The case was ruled in favour of Frydrych, meaning that Wrocław must stop using the image of the dwarf on their promotional materials and souvenirs, as well as make a formal apology for copyright infringement. 

An apology alone doesn't appear to be enough for the former Orange Alternative leader however, as he is returning to court to make Wrocław Miasto pay him the money they earned from using the plagiarised image. In order to estimate the amount Frydrych is due, the court will need to call an expert witness and a marketing professional. The process certainly won't be a quick one though, as it's thought it could even take another four years.

Yesterday's news came less than 7 days after another dwarf related copyright infringement case hit the headlines. Last week Jacek “Ponton” Jankowski won a case against the All For Planet foundation, part of allegro group, for using his dwarf image on their sponsored bike stands around the city. Unlike Frydrych however, Jankowski sued only for a formal apology and not for money – stating in his interviews that he just couldn’t bear seeing a symbol of freedom being used for commercial purposes. Jankowski also won his case, and now the green bike stands will need to be removed and replaced with new designs. 

Wondering why the dwarves are such a big deal here in Wrocław? For those not in the know, the dwarves date back to Poland's communist era. They first started appearing when a group of students from Wrocław, who called themselves the Orange Alternative, decided to use dwarf paintings as a shrewd way of a protesting against the communist regime using artistic means.  

The first ever orange dwarf was painted by Waldemar “Major” Fydrych and Wiesław Cupała in 1982, on one of the residential buildings in the Biskupin neighborhood. This sparked a trend resulting in more than a thousand dwarf graffiti being painted in major cities across Poland. As the dwarf graffiti steadily grew in number, it aroused the suspicion of both the Polish militia, whose intervention led to short term arrests of graffiti artists. The dwarves were also painted over to the delight of Orange Alternative members, who wished to prove their point that the communist government was afraid of fairy tale characters. 

Since the turn of the century, Wrocław’s city council have used various images of the dwarves on their promotional material and souvenirs. The aforementioned image of a child-like dwarf wearing an orange shirt and holding a flower, will have to be withdrawn. The well known figurines of dwarves scattered around the city will stay untouched however, because they no longer have any reference to the Orange Alternative days.

Each Wrocław dwarf has a name, and most of them have their own character and respective fairy tale story too. It's also possible for businesses and rich individuals to even buy their own sponsored dwarf if they have enough cash. Currently Wrocław is home to 292 dwarves, and it appears there is still plenty of room for more.


Marta Dyner is a native Wroclawian with a passion for craft & design. Also a keen city cyclist, Marta is perfectly happy heading off the beaten track to explore Wrocław's suburbs on two wheels. Marta's priceless local advice is both appreciated on Wroclaw Uncut and on the Wroclaw Expats Facebook group, where she is acts as administrator.

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