Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Draft Bill On Online Gambling

Official Journal AN, n° 348, 13 October 2009; Lamyline Reflex, L. Costes

On 13 October 2009, the French Deputies voted a draft bill on “competition and regulation in the field of oneline games played for money and games of chance”.

The aim of the Government is to control online gambling, which is currently illegal, but is in fact widespread. The ARJEL will be created (Authority for the regulation of online gambling), an independent agency in charge of granting licenses to the operators of online games.

In return for this renewable license, the websites will have to comply with specifications. Moreover, the sanctions against illegal websites will be more severe (up to 3 years imprisonment and fines of up to 45.000 Euros).

The Senate should examine this draft bill between the end of November and the beginning of December 2009.


Monday, 12 October 2009

A Decree Sets Out The 9 French Courts Specialised In Intellectual Property


The Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights was implemented in French law by the Law of 29 October 2007 on the fight against infringement and by the Law of 4 August 2008 on the modernisation of the economy. The aim of these acts is in particular to reinforce the body of law protecting intellectual property creations, to create a right to information for intellectual property owners and to reinforce provisional and precautionary measures.

The new law provides for a limited number of courts to specialise in the enforcement of intellectual property: litigation relating to the application of intellectual property rules may only be brought before specific High Courts of First Instance (‘Tribunaux de Grande Instance’).

A Decree dated 9 October 2009, published in the Official Journal on 11 October, designates the 9 High Courts of First Instance (amongst the 181 existing High Courts) that now have exclusive jurisdiction for cases relating to copyright, designs and models, trade marks and appellations of origin: Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nanterre, Nancy, Paris, Rennes and Fort-de-France.


YouTube Is A Hosting Provider, Not A Publisher

High Court of First Instance of Paris (3rd Chamber), 22 September 2009, ADAMI c/ Société YouTube, RLDI 2009/53, L. Costes

The High Court of First Instance of Paris ruled that YouTube is a hosting provider under the French Act of 21 June 2004 on Confidence in the Digital Environment, and not a publisher.

The claimants, a comic double act, brought a copyright infringement case against YouTube after discovering that some of their videos were reproduced on YouTube’s website.

The Court rejected the claim, considering that no legal text excludes the qualification of hosting provider where a provider intends to broadcast the information that he stocks on his website, indeed more so that the Act on Confidence in the Digital Environment provides that storage must be in order to put the information at the disposal of the public by means of communication services, but the Act does not provide that this must necessarily be done by the service of the user. The Court therefore considers that the fact that videos were broadcasted on its website is not sufficient to consider that YouTube may be held liable for the content put on line and belonging to internet users.

Moreover, the Court ruled that YouTube is not liable in the present case, as YouTube may not be held responsible for not trying to do all it could to avoid the illegal content reappearing on its site (on the “stay down” obligation, see the ruling of the High Court of First Instance of Paris, 19 October 2007, http://copyrightfrance.blogspot.com/2007/11/google-video-held-liable-for-not-doing.html).


Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Music Website Radioblog Condemned To Pay Over 1 Million Euros In Damages

High Court of First Instance of Paris (31st Chamber), 3 September 2009, SCPP c/ J.-L. and B. T., www.legalis.net

The High Court of First Instance of Paris has condemned the music website Radioblof.fr for putting at the disposal of the public, on its site, links to recordings, and for permitting its visitors to export the play lists that they had created.

The Court considered that the owners of the site had, by so doing, infringed on the rights of the record producers, and that they had illegally published illegally software manifestly aimed at putting unauthorised protected works at the disposal of the public (Section L.335-2-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code).

The Court sentenced the two owners of the site to pay a fine of ten thousand Euros, with a one year suspended prison sentence.

The damages were calculated on the grounds of the new Section L.331-1-3 of the French Intellectual Property Code, which provides that “In order to set the damages, the Court takes into account the negative economic consequences, including the earnings of the author of the infringement and the moral prejudice caused to the rightholders” (L. n° 2007-1544, 29 October 2007: OJ 30 October 2007, which implements the Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights). The site attracted 800.000 visits daily, which generated a turnover of €403.286 in 2006, and a 686.469 in 2007 through advertising. The Court condemned the owners of the site to refund these sums to the rightholders, i.e. 1.089.755 Euros.


The French Personal Data Protection Law Confronted With The US Discovery Procedures

The CNIL, the French personal data controller, explains on its website that it “has found that a growing number of motions are being filed, requiring the disclosure of personal data held, among other, by French subsidiaries of US corporations subject to pre-trial discovery procedures in US litigation cases. It has become frequent to see companies or their foreign subsidiaries forced to turn over copies of the full contents of the hard disks or e-mail boxes of some employees, or even the entire personnel”.

For the whole presentation: www.cnil.fr/english/news-and-events/discovery-case/


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Advertising for Alcohol Authorised on the Internet in France

Draft Bill No 1210 of the French Parliament

The French deputies adopted a draft bill authorising advertising on the Internet, with certain limitations.

For the time being, the Public Health Code does not allow advertisement for alcohol on a website. Indeed, Article L.3323-2 sets out a restrictive list of types of media on which publicity for alcohol is permitted. In particular, advertising may be carried out in the written press (except for the press intended for youth), through sound broadcasting (a decree sets the radio stations that are authorized to broadcast and at what time), by way of posters, signs and objects in certain shops/stores, in the conditions set by a decree… But the law does not mention websites (see our post http://copyrightfrance.blogspot.com/2008/01/heineken-ordered-to-stop-advertising-on.html

The new law is therefore aimed at adapting the rules to the Internet environment, in order to allow selling and advertising wine over the Internet.

Advertising will not be allowed on websites mainly intended for the young or on the websites of sports clubs and associations. Moreover, the adverts for alcohol must not be “intrusive”, i.e. no spam or pop-ups.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

A Mission To Promote ‘Legal’ Dissemination Of Works On 'Web 2.0'

Press release, French Prime Minister, 20 January 2009

The French Government commissioned Professor Pierre Sirinelli (University of Paris Sorbonne) to prepare a report on the promotion of cultural works on the web 2.0 while complying with intellectual property rights.

The public uses certain services on the “Web 2.0”, in particular community websites such as YouTube, to illegally broadcast or reproduce audiovisual works and music. However, the Government points out that these services can also be a good opportunity for the dissemination of creative works on the internet, provided that the rights of artists are respected. The report will seek practical solutions against abuse, which should be done in discussion with the cinema, music, audiovisual and internet industries.

The report will cover possible avenues: in particular a charter to be signed by the web 2.0 protagonists, under which they would undertake to choose efficient digital marking technologies and apply them for general use in the medium-term.

The report will also study the technical, financial and legal conditions necessary to create a national registry of protected works, which would be used by right owners to register their works. This would oblige the hosting providers to act in accordance with the data collected.

This could in time reinforce the liability of the hosting providers with respect to the registered works. For the time being, Article 6-I-2 of the French Act on Confidence in the Digital Environment provides for a limitation of the liability of the providers, where the providers are not “aware” of the illegal nature of the activity or content.

An intermediary report is due on 30 April 2009, and the final report on 30 June 2009.


Thursday, 15 January 2009

France: the remuneration for private copying extended to mobile phones

Decision of the Committee of Article L. 311-5 IPC, 17 December 2008

In France, the authors and performers of works fixed on phonograms or videograms, and the producers of such phonograms or videograms, are entitled to remuneration for private copying, in application of Article L. 311-1 of the Intellectual Property Code (“IPC”).

Article L. 311-4 IPC provides that this remuneration shall be paid by the manufacturer, the importer or the person making an intra-Community acquisition of recording mediums that may be used for reproduction of works for private use, at the time these mediums enter into circulation in France. The amount of the remuneration depends on the type of medium and the recording time it provides.

Pursuant to Article L. 311-5 IPC, the type of medium, the rates of remuneration and the conditions of payment of such remuneration are determined by a Committee (see http://copyrightfrance.blogspot.com/2007/10/france-remuneration-for-private-copying.html.

In a Decision dated 17 December 2008 (Official Journal, 21 December 2008, p. 19670), the Committee of Article L. 311-5 IPC extended the list of recording mediums already subject to remuneration to include mobile phones that are able to play music and show videos. Up to 128 Mo, the remuneration is 0,09 euro; between 5 Go and 8 Go, the remuneration is 5,60 euro; and 8 euro between 10 and 20 Go.

The Commission also decided to lower the rates of certain recording mediums such as audio CDR, CDR-RW, video DVD-R and DVD-RW, memory cards, USB keys and external hard disks, DVD Ram, DVD-R and DVD RW.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Sarkozy voodoo doll survives

Court of Appeal of Paris (14th Chamber, section B), 28 November 2008, www.legalis.net

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy sued the publisher Tear Prod for publishing a book called “Nicolas S. the voodoo handbook”, sold in a box containing a figurine of the President and three needles. The following text was also in the box: “You hate Nicolas S. Because he is too right-wing? (…)”. Sarkozy asked for the products to be withdrawn from sale and for nominal damages (1 euro), in particular on the grounds of Articles 9 (“Everyone has the right to respect for his private life”) and 16 (“Legislation ensures the primacy of the person, prohibits any infringement of the latter's dignity and safeguards the respect of the human being from the outset of life”) of the Civil Code.

In the judgement dated 28 November 2008, the Court of Appeal of Paris decided that the text on the box exceeds the limits authorised by caricature.

The Court, however, refused to ban the product as such a measure would not have been proportional to the damages suffered by the plaintiff, and would have undermined freedom of expression. The Court did grant 1 symbolic euro to the President.

Nevertheless, the Court ordered the publisher to add a warning on the box with the following text: “It has been ruled that the incitation of the reader to prick the doll that is enclosed with this book, using the needles that are furnished in the box, is an action that suggests physical pain, even if it is symbolic, and so infringes on Mr S.’ dignity”.

The publicity that came from this trial turned the voodoo doll in question into a best-seller, says the publisher…


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The new objectives of the French INPI

Press release, 8 January 2009, www.minefe.gouv.fr

The INPI (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle) is the French government body in charge of granting industrial property titles following applications (trade marks, patents, designs and models).

On 8 January 2009, the French Government and the Director of the INPI signed an agreement setting out the objectives of the INPI for the period from 2009 to 2012.

Based on the previous agreement, that the parties consider as having been satisfactorily performed (period 2004-2008), the present agreement aims at reinforcing the action of the INPI concerning the six following points:

1. To encourage the use of industrial property in order to promote growth through innovation;

2. To improve the service given to the public by reducing the processing time, in particular through electronic procedures;

3. To make access to information easier: all information concerning industrial property (patents, trade marks, models, case law) will be gratuitously put at the disposal of the public on the website www.inpi.fr;

4. To contribute to the improvement of the legal environment at the French, European and international level: the INPI will continue to advise and assist the Government;

5. The INPI will reinforce its role in the fight against infringement and will defend the French positions in the framework of European and international discussions and the ACTA negotiations (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).


Monday, 12 January 2009

Dailymotion: the “stay down” obligation confirmed

President of the High Court of First Instance of Paris, 19 November 2008, Jean-Yves Lafesse / Dailymotion, www.legalis.net

A judgement of the High Court of First Instance of Paris dated 15 April 2008 had ordered the site Dailymotion to cease all broadcast of the content of filmed sketches of the comedian and author Jean-Yves Lafesse contained in 10 DVDs and 5 CDs.

After the ruling, however, it was established that 4 excerpts of the sketches were still available on the Dailymotion site. Jean-Yves Lafesse therefore brought the case before the President of the High Court of Paris, acting as a summary jurisdiction, to have the removal of the litigious works ordered.

The President said that Dailymotion, which is a hosting provider under the French Act of 21 June 2004 on Confidence in the Digital Environment, had knowledge of the illegal nature of the works that were put online on its site after the judgement rendered on 15 April 2008. The President ruled that the authors and producers thus did not have to send Dailymotion a prior formal notice to inform it of the illegal nature of the content put online, since the hosting provider knew all the said sketches and therefore had the obligation to do all it could to ensure that the works in question remain inaccessible on its site.

In a decision dated 19 October 2007, the High Court of First Instance of Paris had already ruled that once the hosting providers have been notified of illegal content, they are obliged to make sure that it does not reappear on their site. This places them in a difficult situation after notification, as they have a “stay down” obligation to meet (see our comment of the ruling http://copyrightfrance.blogspot.com/2007/11/google-video-held-liable-for-not-doing.html).


Pas d’exception de copie privée pour le «magnétoscope numérique online»

Commentaire TGI de Paris (ord. réf.) 6 août 2008, Métropole Télévision et a. c/ Wizzgo

Publié dans LÉGIPRESSE N° 256 - Novembre2008

Dans l’environnement analogique, la question de la licéité des magnétoscopes s’était posée aux Etats-Unis dans l’affaire Betamax (District Central de Californie, 2 octobre 1979, et Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis, 1984, Walt Disney c./ Sony Corp., 464 US 417 - v. V. Nabhan, «Quelques aspects des problèmes juridiques posés par la reproduction : L’affaire Betamax», RIDA av. 1981, n° 108, 3). Selon les sociétés Universal City Studios et Walt Disney, les enregistrements de programmes télévisuels effectués par un particulier dans son domicile privé constituaient des actes de contrefaçon directe, et le fabricant des appareils Betamax commettait donc des actes de contrefaçon indirects (contributory infringement). Les magnétoscopes avaient été jugés licites notamment parce qu’ils étaient largement utilisés par le public afin de visionner les programmes de télévision à un moment différé (time-shifting), ce qui accroît l’audience des titulaires de droits sans leur nuire.

En mai 2008, la société Wizzgo a lancé un service appelé «magnétoscope numérique online», qu’elle décrit sur son site comme un logiciel qui, une fois téléchargé, «permet d’enregistrer gratuitement les programmes TV de la TNT (Télévision numérique terrestre), via internet» (www.wizzgo.com). Wizzgo présente à l’utilisateur un guide de programmes personnalisable ; l’utilisateur choisit les programmes et Wizzgo procède à l’enregistrement intégral du programme commandé et met l’enregistrement à disposition de l’utilisateur via internet une heure après la fin de la diffusion. L’utilisateur peut ensuite conserver et visionner le fichier transmis autant de fois qu’il le souhaite et ce sur tous supports numériques. Ce que propose Wizzgo n’est donc pas un simple magnétoscope numérique, mais un véritable service de copie.

Les sociétés Métropole Télévision et EDI TV, qui exploitent les chaînes de télévision M6 et W9, accessibles en particulier par la TNT, et la société M6 Web, laquelle exploite un service gratuit dit de télévision de rattrapage accessible une heure après la diffusion d’un programme sur internet pendant un délai de un à quinze jours, ont introduit une action en référé devant le Tribunal de grande instance de Paris. Selon les demanderesses, le service porte atteinte aux droits qu’elles disposent sur les œuvres et programmes qu’elles produisent. Elles ont formé des demandes de mesures d’interdiction, de communication de pièces destinées à établir le préjudice et d’indemnisations provisionnelles.

La défense de la société Wizzgo est principalement fondée sur la «neutralité» de son système, qui ne serait qu’une plate-forme technologique mise à la disposition des utilisateurs, «un service gratuit de magnétoscope numérique permettant l’enregistrement des programmes des chaînes gratuites de la TNT». Selon elle, dans la mesure où la fonctionnalité offerte à l’utilisateur consiste en la programmation à distance de ses enregistrements, et où l’enregistrement est intégral (incluant génériques et coupures publicitaires), la copie est faite chez le particulier pour son usage privé, comme avec un magnétoscope classique. Son intervention se limiterait donc à la mise à disposition d’une plate-forme technologique qui génère, du côté de Wizzgo, une simple copie transitoire conforme aux prévisions de l’article L. 122-5 6° CPI, et, du côté de l’utilisateur, une copie privée autorisée par l’article L. 122-5 2° CPI.

L’ordonnance de référé du 6 août 2008, qui relève que le service en cause se caractérise par une activité éludant toute rétribution des droits de propriété intellectuelle et qui se rémunère sur la publicité, procède à une analyse essentiellement économique du service pour rejeter les principaux arguments de Wizzgo.

Selon l’ordonnance, l’exception de copie privée, dérogatoire au droit de reproduction, et donc d’interprétation stricte, est par définition sans valeur économique. Or, le service n’est pas «de l’ordre du don» mais bien économique. La décision précise qu’il est interdit de «s’approprier une richesse économique à partir d’un service de copie d’œuvres ou de programmes audiovisuels qui se soustrait à la rémunération des titulaires des droits de propriété intellectuelle». L’exception de copie privée n’est donc pas applicable, et le service est ainsi manifestement illicite.

Pour autant, la gratuité, ou l’absence de profit, n’est pas une condition directement posée par l’article 122-5 2° CPI, qui dispose que l’auteur ne peut interdire «les copies ou reproductions strictement réservées à l’usage privée du copiste et non destinées à une utilisation collective». C’est cette exigence simple d’unicité de personne entre le «copiste» et l’utilisateur qui prend selon nous tout son sens dans la présente décision, tant il semble évident que cette condition n’est pas remplie.

En ce sens, les demanderesses ont fait valoir la jurisprudence établie en matière d’officines de reprographie et de magasins de duplication de CD. La Cour de cassation, dans l’affaire Rannou-Graphie, avait estimé que le copiste économique est celui qui, détenant le matériel nécessaire à la confection des copies, «exploite ce matériel en le mettant à la disposition de ses clients» (Cass. 1re civ., 7 mars 1984, RIDA n° 121, 151) ; le copiste économique (le magasin) et l’utilisateur de la copie (le client) n’étant pas la même personne, les conditions de l’exception n’étaient pas remplies (A. Lucas, «Le droit d’auteur français à l’épreuve de la reprographie», JCP 1990, I, n° 13, 3448). Plusieurs décisions ont, à la suite de Rannou-Graphie, clarifié la notion de « copiste économique » (P. Masseron, «Le droit de reproduction par reprographie appliqué aux copies-services et aux entreprises de reprographie», Legipresse n° 161, II, 59), en précisant qu’il ne peut y avoir copie privée en cas d’usage commercial (CA Toulouse, 20 mai 1997, RIDA n° 175, 323 et CA Paris, 25 juin 1997, D. Aff. 1997, n° 29, chr. 936. TGI Valence, 2 juil. 1999, RIDA n° 183 ; TGI Clermont-Ferrand, 27 oct. 1999, Legipresse n° 168, 8. Cf. également TGI Montpellier, 24 septembre 1999, Legipresse n° 169, I, 24, condamnant au titre de la contrefaçon la reproduction d’œuvres en format MP3 circulant illégalement sur internet aux fins de graver et de commercialiser des compilations sur CD Rom). Le Cour d’appel de Grenoble a ainsi estimé que l’article L. 122-5 2° exige que «le copiste réalisant matériellement la copie avec du matériel dont il a la possession juridique et matérielle chez lui et l’utilisateur futur soient une seule et même personne physique» (CA Grenoble, 18 janvier 2001, RIDA n° 189, 366, note A. Kéréver ). Une telle définition a semble-t-il le mérite de ne pas condamner les magnétoscopes numériques programmables que l’on trouve actuellement dans les foyers français.

On peut cependant considérer que le juge des référés, qui concède que le service litigieux «suppose l’utilisation coordonnée des moyens techniques de la société et de l’utilisateur», définit indirectement Wizzgo comme le copiste économique, à travers l’analyse des aspects économiques de son activité. En tout état de cause, c’est essentiellement l’absence de «neutralité» qui semble le mieux caractériser ce service dit de magnétoscope numérique en ligne, qui n’est précisément pas un simple magnétoscope mais un véritable service de copie à distance, le prestataire agissant comme le copiste économique.

Par ailleurs, l’argument fondé sur l’article L. 122-5 6° CPI pouvait difficilement être reçu. Cet article, qui résulte de la transposition de l’article 5 de la directive du 22 mai 2001 sur le droit d’auteur dans la société de l’information, prévoit en effet que constitue une exception au droit d’auteur «La reproduction provisoire présentant un caractère transitoire ou accessoire, lorsqu’elle est une partie intégrante et essentielle d’un procédé technique et qu’elle a pour unique objet de permettre l’utilisation licite de l’œuvre ou sa transmission entre tiers par la voie d’un réseau faisant appel à un intermédiaire ; toutefois, cette reproduction provisoire (…) ne doit pas avoir de valeur économique propre». Il résulte de la présentation que fait Wizzgo de son service que la reproduction réalisée n’est pas provisoire, et ce même en se plaçant artificiellement uniquement du côté du prestataire, puisque ce dernier réalise une copie qu’il envoie dans un fichier crypté par internet à l’utilisateur, qui peut ensuite conserver et lire ce fichier sur tous formats numériques. En outre, le service a bien une valeur économique, ainsi que cela est souligné par l’ordonnance. Enfin, l’objet unique de l’utilisation n’est pas licite, puisque l’exception de copie privée est écartée.