Wednesday, 24 October 2007

False description of an ‘audio CD’ that cannot be played on certain CD players

High Court of First Instance of Nanterre (15th Chamber), 31 May 2007, n° 331845026, Ministère public v EMI Music France

EMI Music France commercialised, between October 2002 and August 2003, CDs equipped with anti-copying measures. As these CD’s were commercialised under the name “Audio CD”, while they could not be played on certain CD players, two consumer associations took action against EMI Music France on the grounds of false description in relation to the nature and material qualities of the merchandise.

Indeed, Article L.213-1 of the French Consumer Code punishes anyone, whether or not they are party to the contract, who may have deceived or attempted to deceive the contractor in respect of the nature, species, origin, material qualities, composition or content in terms of useful principles of any merchandise.

The Tribunal de Grande Instance (High Court of First Instance) of Nanterre held that EMI Music France deceived the consumers by knowingly commercialising audio records presented as ‘audio CDs’, whereas these CDs were equipped with anti-copying measures and were therefore not in compliance with the French norm fixing the technical characteristics applicable to audio CDs at the time, and so could not be played on a certain number of CD players, in particular on car CD players.