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Legislation and Materials

Status of the French bill on the implementation of the EUCD, see e.g. Le Figaro on June 23, 2006

Alliance of 13 French library and documentation associations and the way they managed to get some exceptions into the French Copyright Law.

General Remarks on Implementation

Core Issues

Anti-Circumvention Provisions

Peer Collaboration

(Contributed by Daniel Haeusermann)

Private copying exception

Art. L. 122-5 para. 1° of the Intellectual Property Code (Code sur la propriété intellectuelle, CPI) permits the reproduction of works exclusively in the family circle, while para. 2° makes an exception for “copies strictly reserved for private use of the person who makes the copy and not for collective use …”. While some groups, such as the Audionautes, contend that downloading copyrighted works from the web or peer to peer networks is legal, courts have ruled in both directions. However that may be, the language of the cited private copy exceptions makes it hard to argue that uploading be legal under French law.

Criminal privilege of file-sharing

Art. L. 335-2 CPI punishes as a délit (something between a misdemeanor and a felony) the act of publishing copyrighted works without the authorization of the rightsholder, with up to 3 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to €300,000. In these cases, the court may order the closing of the facility used to commit the copyright infringement for up to five years (Art. L. 335-5 CPI). Art. 24 DADVSI (Art. 14bis in the draft versions) privileged peer to peer file sharing for non commercial purposes by making it a contravention (similar to an infraction), which is punishable by a fine only, which is defined by decree (an executive decision). Yet, the Constitutional Council canceled Art. 24 as unconstitutional, reasoning that the differentiation between peer to peer file sharing and other forms of online distribution was in violation of the principle of equality before criminal law. As a consequence, peer to peer file sharing would still be punishable as a délit under Art. L. 335-2 CPI.

Criminal sanctions of authors (etc.) of P2P software

Art. L. 335-2-1 CPI imposes criminal sanctions of up to three years of imprisonment and/or 300,000 € on those who knowingly edit or make available to the public software which is manifestly destined for making copyrighted works available to the public illegally (para. 1°), and on those who knowingly incite, including by means of an advertisement, to the use of such software (para. 2°). The version adopted by parliament made an exception for “software destined for collaborative work or for the search or the exchange of files not subject to copyright remuneration.” That exception was canceled by the Constitutional Council on the grounds that—among others—with it, criminal law would not protect the moral rights of the authors who have waived their right to remuneration as well as the neighboring rights. In addition, if software is principally used to illegally make available copyrighted works, courts may order provisional measures, combined with penalty payment, any state-of-the-art measure necessary to protect copyright, but these measures may not distort the nature of the essential features of the software or its original purpose (Art. L. 336-1 CPI).

Universal Access

Teaching exceptions

For an overview of the exceptions in education at schools and universities see this synopsis

Political and Cultural Participation

Art. L. 122-5-3. CPI: Lorsque l'oeuvre a été divulguée, l'auteur ne peut interdire [...] Sous réserve que soient indiqués clairement le nom de l'auteur et la source : a) Les analyses et courtes citations justifiées par le caractère critique, polémique, pédagogique, scientifique ou d'information de l'oeuvre à laquelle elles sont incorporées ; b) Les revues de presse ; c) La diffusion, même intégrale, par la voie de presse ou de télédiffusion, à titre d'information d'actualité, des discours destinés au public prononcés dans les assemblées politiques, administratives, judiciaires ou académiques, ainsi que dans les réunions publiques d'ordre politique et les cérémonies officielles ; d) Les reproductions, intégrales ou partielles d'oeuvres d'art graphiques ou plastiques destinées à figurer dans le catalogue d'une vente judiciaire effectuée en France pour les exemplaires mis à la disposition du public avant la vente dans le seul but de décrire les oeuvres d'art mises en vente