Court of Appeal of Versailles (14th Chamber), 12 December 2007, Les Arnaques.com v Editions Régionales de France
Editions Régionales de France (ERF) is a communications agency which specialises in the sales of advertising space and publishing of professional directories. It considered that newsgroups of the website Lesarnaques.com (literally The swindles.com), dedicated to helping consumers air their disputes, contained serious allegations against it.
In a summary proceeding, ERF obtained an order against the company Lesarnaques.com to suspend all reference to ERF on the site. Lesarnaques.com lodged an appeal against the summary order.
The Court of Appeal of Versailles ruled that a newsgroup that is used to send messages online, without any prior monitoring, is a hosting provider in the meaning of the French Act of 21 June 2004 on Confidence in the Digital Environment. As such, Lesarnaques.com may be liable under Article 6-1-2 of the French Act of 21 June 2004 on Confidence in the Digital Environment, which provides that the hosting provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, if the provider did not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information, or if the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge, acted expeditiously to remove the information, or to disable access to it.
However, the Court ruled that under Article 6-I-5 of the Act of 21 June 2004, hosting providers are deemed to have knowledge of the litigious facts if they have been notified of certain elements, in particular the description of the litigious facts and their precise location, and the reasons why the content must be removed, with an explanation of the legal provisions and factual justifications. In the present case, the Court considered that the ERF had not sent the required notifications, and dismissed ERF’s claims.