Friday 5 October 2012

French Rules Governing Post Mortem Transmission of Droit de Suite Held Constitutional

By a strange coincidence, just as the US Copyright Office announced its inquiry into the droit de suite, the French Constitutional Court issued a ruling last week (September 28th) confirming that the statutory provisions governing the droit de suite's transmission post mortem are constitutional.

Pursuant to Section L.123-7 of the Intellectual Property Code, upon the author's death, the droit de suite passes to the author's heirs (and spouse) to the exclusion of legatees.  This provision was attacked as creating an undue discrimination between heirs and legatees.

The Court held that though the difference in treatment was justified:

"Whereas in creating the droit de suite, the legislator intended to allow authors of graphic and plastic originals to benefit from the appreciation in value of their works subsequent to the first sale thereof; by providing for the inalienable nature of this right and by ensuring its transmission to the author's heirs, the purpose of the provisions at issue is to reinforce this protection and to extend it to the artist's family after his death;

Whereas by reserving the transmission of the droit de suite upon the author's death to heirs [...], to the exclusion of legatees and other successors-in-interest, the legislator has instituted a difference in treatment between persons who are differently situated; such difference in treatment is directly related to the objective pursued by the law".

For US Copyright Notice of Inquiry see here

For ruling by Constitutional Court see here

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