On June 22, 2007, the President of the High Court of First Instance, in a summary order, held that MySpace acts as a publisher, and condemned the service for copyright infringement (Tribunal de grande instance de Paris, Ordonnance de référé, 22 juin 2007 [legalis.net]).
Jean-Yves L., a French comedian known by the name of “Lafesse” (literally “the buttock”!), and famous for the (very funny) filmed sketches he directs and acts in, sued MySpace for having reproduced and broadcast his works without any authorisation.
The Court first notes that the terms and conditions of MySpace define the website as “a social networking service that allows Members to create unique personal profiles online in order to find and communicate with old and new friends”.
The Court considered that if MySpace acts as a hosting provider, it also acts as a publisher, since it puts presentation structures at the disposal of the people who are hosted, and makes a profit by broadcasting advertisements each time a video is viewed. The Court therefore concluded that MySpace acts as a publisher and is liable for copyright infringement.
The Court condemned MySpace by application of Article L.122-4 of the French Intellectual Property Code that provides that “Any complete or partial performance or reproduction made without the consent of the author or of his successors in title or assigns shall be unlawful. The same shall apply to translation, adaptation or transformation, arrangement or reproduction by any technique or process whatsoever”.
The Court ordered the deletion of the litigious page, with a 1.000 euros daily fine for delay in performance.
The Court also condemned MySpace to the payment of 50.000 euros for the commercial prejudice suffered, 3.000 euros for the infringement of the plaintiff’s moral rights, and 5.000 euros for the violation of his personal rights (use of his name and likeness). The Court allocated these amounts on a provisional basis, as this is a summary judgment for urgent matters (theoretically, the plaintiff then takes action on the merits of the case before a court that will render a final judgement). MySpace was also ordered to pay of 3.000 euros to cover the plaintiff’s legal fees.
It seems that the “Bottock”, who is also suing other sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion (A. Salomon, Jean-Yves Lafesse en guerre contre les pirates, Lefigaro.fr, 15 June 2007), is becoming a pain in the a… for these hosting sites.
Doctor at Law
Lawyer, Member of the Paris Bar
Lecturer, University of Paris 1 (Sorbonne)