Facebook can be sued in France

A LOVELY story for those who appreciate legal quirks. Facebook is subject to French law when a French citizen objects to its behaviour.

Frédéric Durand-Baissas posted to Facebook a photo of L'Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), an 1866 painting by Gustave Courbet. The Freelance suggests not searching for images of this painting, hugely important in the history of art, while anyone may be looking over your shoulder.

Facebook took it down. Frédéric went to court, arguing that his freedom of expression had been violated. Facebook argued in response that he's signed up to terms and conditions that said disputes could be heard only in California courts. The High Court of Paris ruled (to no great surprise) that Facebook could va te faire foutre (earlier warnings about looking things up still apply).

As with the Google "right to be forgotten" case, this is about jurisdiction - what courts can hear the case - more than about the substantive issues.

As with the Google "right to be forgotten" case, the implication is that the California corporation may be subject to European courts in tax matters. Oh yes.

So we'll ignore for the moment the question of whether Frédéric had a licence to use the reproduction in question.

Last modified: 07 Mar 2015 - © 2015 contributors
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