1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Monday, 12 January 2015

Can unauthorised reproduction of Charlie Hebdo cartoons be an infringement? French readers' perspective wanted!

Is unauthorised reprinting
an infringement?
1709 Blog readers who do not subscribe to/read The IPKat might have missed an item that I posted last Saturday, which called for some elucidation from French readers.

The question is whether under French law unauthorised reproduction of Charlie Hebdo cartoons may be considered a copyright infringement.

The IPKat post followed the debate surrounding the opportunity or not of reprinting this French satirical newspaper's irreverent cartoons.

Let's assume that French law was the applicable law. 

In the case of unauthorised reproduction of Charlie Hebdo artistic works, the potentially applicable exceptions, as enshrined in the Code de la propriété intellectuelle, could be:
  • Article L 122-5, No 3 [likely derived from Article 5(3)(d) of the InfoSoc Directive], which allows, provided that the name of the author and the source are clearly indicated:
    • (lett a) the analysis and short quotation of a work because of the critical, polemical, educational, scientific or information character of the (new) work in which it is incorporated; 
    • (lett b) press reviews.
  • Article L 122-5 No 9 [likely derived from Article 5(3)(c) of the InfoSoc Directive], which allows - among other things and subject to the indication of the name of the author - the reproduction, as a whole or in part, of a graphic work of art, by print, broadcast or online, for reasons of exclusive and immediate information directly related to the work. The exception does not apply to works, notably photographs or drawings, that in themselves are meant to convey information [this bit is pretty similar to s30(2) of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988].  
In my post I concluded that unauthorised reproduction of Charlie Hebdo artistic works by press publications would not really qualify for the news reporting exception under French copyright law. Nonetheless such unauthorised publication could be saved by the wonderfully loose language of Article L 122-5 No 3. However, similarly to Article L 122-5 No 9, Article L 122-5 No 3 requires that a number of conditions are met, notably that (not just the source but also) the author of the work is indicated. 

I would greatly appreciate if French readers could provide any insights as to the judicial interpretation of these French copyright law provisions.

10 comments:

Andreas Rahmatian, University of Glasgow said...

Perhaps French readers could find it a bit insensitive that someone posts a blog presumably even before the victims have been buried (Sat, 10 January) which makes no comment about the shooting in Paris except that it was a "horrible tragedy" – in fact it was a brutal murder. Rather, the blog entry deals exclusively with niceties of French copyright law at length (although much relevant information could equally have been obtained from Legifrance anyway).

Maybe French readers need the time to come to terms with these terrible events before they want to discuss comparatively mundane technical legal issues? The blog by Adam Wagner, which this blog links to, could be a more convincing approach for the moment, as it comments on the wider political and cultural implications of this assassination.

Andreas Rahmatian, University of Glasgow, UK (currently in France)

Anonymous said...

Mr Rahmatian, is it not you who are being insensitive.

With the memories of the French journalists fresh in everbody's minds, murdered for the crime of writing and publishing what was in their hearts, Mr Rahmatian is already bridling at the exercise of the same freedom of speech by a blogging journalist whose post he cannot tolerate.

Eleonora Rosati said...

@ Andreas: Thanks for your comment but I can ensure you that it was not my intention at all to scale down the seriousness of what happened in Paris. This said, I don't see how discussing the possible copyright implications of unauthorised reproduction of artistic works on a copyright blog (=a blog devoted to what you call copyright niceties) could be seen as lack of respect towards the victims. Certainly analysing the political and cultural implications of the attack would be outwith the scope of a blog devoted to discussing technical issues.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that someone (Prof Rahmatian) who pretends to be so sensitive has not understood what Je suis Charlie stands for: freedom of thought and expression. This also applies to blog posts he doesn't like. Perhaps he should think twice before writing comments of this sort pretending to be the guardian of what is appropriate to write and what is not.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the comments, except Mr Rahamatian's who has clearly not understood a thing. Well done (as usual) to Eleonora, who always manages to write thought-provoking posts!

FrenchKat said...

Hello Eleonora,
Section L.122-5, par.3(a) (short quotation) has been interpreted by the Cour de cassation as precluding use of the entirety of the work. Accordingly, it would not apply in this case.
Section L.122-5, par;3(b) (press reviews) may apply. Traditionally, two conditions: (i) use that invites a reflection on current events or issue (ii) possibility of reciprocity (i.e., quoting entity has subject-matter than can be quoted).
As for Section L.122-5, par.9 (the most recent provision as it dates from 2006, the other two are much older), this is more complicated. It is by its terms limited to graphic, sculptural and architectural works and as you point out excludes photographs and illustrations that convey the information. In other words, the exception can be relied upon to reproduce a statue but not a photograph of the statue. In this cas, it seems to me that the graphic work (the caricature) is being reproduced for itself such that the exception under Section L.112-5, par.9 should apply (assuming the other conditions are met.

Eleonora Rosati said...

@Asim: Thanks so much for your clear explanation: very helpful indeed!

Lucile said...



Mon english n'est pas suffisamment précis pour comprendre la question du blogueur. Il dispose déjà de toutes les lois dont il a besoin
notamment la liste des exceptions aux droits d'auteur.
http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006069414&idArticle=LEGIARTI000006278917&dateTexte=20081211

Tous les dessins de Charlie sont utilisables, en ce moment, à des fins d'information et d'analyse. On peut en reproduire toute une série dans un article de presse ou de revue savantes qui tâcherait d'analyser le degré de racisme ou de pensée libérale contenu dedans.

La reproduction de tout le numéro paru aujourd'hui n'est pas possible.
Mais il est toujours possible de faire ce que personne ne pense jamais à faire : quand on veut utiliser une oeuvre on demande l'autorisation de l'ayant droit et dans certain cas il la donne et gratuitement. Charlie hebdo semble avoir donné l'autorisation à diverses sociétés de presse de traduire et d'imprimer le dernier numéro en entier.
http://www.france24.com/fr/20150114-une-dernier-charlie-hebdo-decline-cinq-langues-france-anglais-espagnol-arabe-italien/
Il est très possible que dès demain la rédaction metten le numéro en ligne en pdf


Lire aussi le blog de Calimaq
http://scinfolex.com/
le champion sur les problème de droit d'auteur, d'internet et de liberté d'expression.
Calimaq a déjà signalé que le régime d'exception qui vient de s'installer avec l'accord de tout le monde poursuit une politique liberticide.
https://www.facebook.com/Calimaq?fref=ts

From a librarian friend in Paris.
Best,

Lucile

Let me know if you need a translation (if you have no knowledge of French, please DO NOT use a translation on-line...)



LanguageCentreLibrary Oxford said...



Mon english n'est pas suffisamment précis pour comprendre la question du blogueur. Il dispose déjà de toutes les lois dont il a besoin
notamment la liste des exceptions aux droits d'auteur.
http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006069414&idArticle=LEGIARTI000006278917&dateTexte=20081211

Tous les dessins de Charlie sont utilisables, en ce moment, à des fins d'information et d'analyse. On peut en reproduire toute une série dans un article de presse ou de revue savantes qui tâcherait d'analyser le degré de racisme ou de pensée libérale contenu dedans.

La reproduction de tout le numéro paru aujourd'hui n'est pas possible.
Mais il est toujours possible de faire ce que personne ne pense jamais à faire : quand on veut utiliser une oeuvre on demande l'autorisation de l'ayant droit et dans certain cas il la donne et gratuitement. Charlie hebdo semble avoir donné l'autorisation à diverses sociétés de presse de traduire et d'imprimer le dernier numéro en entier.
http://www.france24.com/fr/20150114-une-dernier-charlie-hebdo-decline-cinq-langues-france-anglais-espagnol-arabe-italien/
Il est très possible que dès demain la rédaction metten le numéro en ligne en pdf


Lire aussi le blog de Calimaq
http://scinfolex.com/
le champion sur les problème de droit d'auteur, d'internet et de liberté d'expression.
Calimaq a déjà signalé que le régime d'exception qui vient de s'installer avec l'accord de tout le monde poursuit une politique liberticide.
https://www.facebook.com/Calimaq?fref=ts

From a librarian friend in Paris.

Best,
Lucile
Oxford University Language Centre

PS let me know if you need a translation (do not use google translated and co if you have no knowledge of French... )

M. Ibarra said...

We all have our way of dealing with terrible events. What happened then was murder. Still, I respect the opinions stated on here but I believe the Charlie Hebdo artistic works deserve respect. Timing of this post might have been off but it's just freedom of expression.