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France: TF1, Court of Cassation of France, First Civil Law Chamber, 13-22401, 13 November 2014

In this judgment, the French Supreme Court ruled that an author who is a member of a collecting society may not take action in infringement cases to protect his economic rights, except in the case of a deficiency on the part of said collecting society.

In the same judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that publishing agreements for the assignment of rights of an author must be in writing, and it is not possible to demonstrate the existence of an agreement by reference to the behaviour of the authors as regards the exploitation of the work.

A full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law

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France: Do members of collecting societies retain the right to sue?

Brad-SpitzArticle L.321-1 paragraph 2 of the French Intellectual Property Code (‘IPC’) provides that collecting societies are entitled to take legal action to defend the rights for which they are responsible under their articles of association (by-laws). Collecting societies may therefore take legal action to defend their repertoires and those of foreign collecting societies that they manage, whether before the civil courts (Supreme Court, 22 March 1988, 86-11874) or the criminal courts (Supreme Court, 25 October 1988, 86-91720). In its judgment of 13 November 2014 (13-22401), the French Supreme Court answered a very important question: do authors who are members of collecting societies retain the [...]

Publication: Guide to Copyright in France

BSBookI am happy to announce the release of my book Guide to Copyright in France – Business, Internet and Litigation.

French copyright law is one of the most original and dynamic copyright systems at this time. This book is a practical and straightforward guide to how copyright works in France: protection, ownership, assignment agreements, collective management, and litigation. This guide is divided into six chapters (see table of contents):

Chapter 1 ‘Subsistence of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights’ explains the conditions of protection of works such as photographs, audiovisual works, architecture, conceptual art, computer programmes, videogames, databases, etc. and the conditions of protect [...]

France: new legislation on damages for copyright infringement

Brad-SpitzTwo Acts of 2007 and 2014 to fight against counterfeiting have modified the French Intellectual Property Code, in order to enable improved compensation for the rightholders as well as better protection of intellectual property rights.

In French intellectual property infringement cases, damages were traditionally supposed to cover the prejudice suffered, no more, no less. Punitive damages were not theoretically possible. However, Acts No. 2007-1544 of 29 October 2007 and No. 2014-315 of 11 March 2014 to strengthen the fight against counterfeiting have modified many aspects of the French Intellectual Property (‘IPC’) with regard to damages and remedies.

Calculation of the damages

Article [...]

Thumbnails: French proposal for payment of royalties by search engines

Brad-SpitzIn France, search engines using thumbnails are likely to infringe on copyright. On 8 April 2014, a French Senator proposed a Bill to establish compulsory collective management for the reproduction of photographs and images by search engine services.

Thumbnails are reduced-size versions of photographs and images, used by search engines such as Google Images in order to facilitate their recognition and organisation, with links to the websites where the photographs and images are published.

Such reproduction of photographs and other works is likely to constitute fair use under the US Copyright Act of 1976 (see Meng Ding, Perfect 10 v Amazon.com: A Step Toward Copyright’s Tort Law Roots, Berk [...]

Artist’s Resale Rights: French preliminary question to the ECJ

Brad-SpitzCan an auction house transfer the responsibility of paying the resale right royalty from the seller to the buyer?

Directive 2001/84/EC created a resale right (‘droit de suite’) in the EU for the benefit of the author of an original work of art. This resale right is ‘defined as an inalienable right, which cannot be waived, even in advance, to receive a royalty based on the sale price obtained for any resale of the work, subsequent to the first transfer of the work by the author’ (Article 1). The directive was adopted in 2001 but only came into force on 1 January 2010.

Article 1(4) of Directive 2001/84/EC states that ‘The royalty shall be payable by the seller’, and that Member St [...]

France: no copyright protection for perfume

Brad-SpitzThe Supreme Court maintains its position in a case concerning a Lancôme perfume, stating that ‘copyright only protects creations in their tangible form, so far as this form is identifiable with sufficient precision to permit its communication; whereas the fragrance of a perfume … is not a form that has this characteristic, and therefore cannot be protected by copyright’.

Article L.112-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code (IPC) protects ‘the rights of authors in all works of the mind, whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or purpose’, without giving a definition of originality.

French case law has defined originality as the expression of the personality of the autho [...]

Time limitation in French copyright infringement cases

Brad-Spitz“Civil proceedings for infringement of copyright are barred after 5 years from the day the holder of a right knew or should have known of the facts necessary to exercise his right.”

In a judgement of 3 July 2013, the French Supreme Court clarifies the time limit for taking action to obtain damages for copyright infringement. Oddly enough, the French Intellectual Property Code provides that civil proceedings for infringement for designs and models (article L.521-3), patents (article L.615-8) and trade marks (article L.716-5) shall be barred after 3 years, but is silent about copyright and neighbouring rights actions.

In 1979, the singer of the song Just Because Of You, recorded to be synchron [...]

France: a digital file in iTunes is a phonogram

Brad-SpitzThe right to exploit a recording “in the form of a phonogram published for commercial purposes”, includes the right to exploit it not only in the form of a tangible medium, such as a vinyl record or a CD, but also in the form of a downloadable digital file.

The judgement of 11 September 2013 is yet another recent important ruling of the French Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation, in the field of neighbouring rights. In less than a year, the Cour de Cassation has ruled that collecting societies may only take action for their own members (see France: Supreme Court makes music synchronisation safer), that participants in a reality TV show are employees and not performers (see France: parti [...]

France: notification and sale of personal data

Brad-SpitzThis ruling has direct and very important consequences on copyright deals such as database sales agreements, where personal data is sold.”

In a short but very important judgement of 25 June 2013, the Cour de cassation, the French Supreme Court, has ruled that the sale of a computerized customer file is null and void if the French personal data authority CNIL has not been notified of the file in compliance with article 22 of the French personal data Act.

In the present case, a natural person brought a case against a company, claiming that the sale of a computerized customer file containing personal data had to be annulled, because the CNIL had not been notified of the file. To dismiss th [...]

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