• France's news in English
Facebook vs France
Facebook to face trial in France over nude painting
THe Gustave Courbet painting "The Origin of the World" Is it art or pornography? Photo: AFP

Facebook to face trial in France over nude painting

Ben McPartland · 12 Feb 2016, 16:21

Published: 12 Feb 2016 16:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Feb 2016 16:21 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The French court threw out Facebook's appeal after the social media giant argued that only US courts had jurisdiction to hear cases against it.

Instead the court backed the March 2015 ruling which said Facebook's clause forcing all users to agree that any litigation must be based in California, where the site is based, was "abusive."

Facebook is being sued by a French father of three whose account was blocked after he posted a 19th century painting by Gustave Courbet, "The Origin of the World", depicting a woman's genitalia.

The irate teacher filed a complaint in a French court saying the site could not differentiate between pornography and art.

But in a hearing on January 22, Facebook's lawyer Caroline Lyannaz argued that the site did not fall under French jurisdiction as users have to sign a clause agreeing that only a California court can rule in disputes relating to the firm.

The social media giant closed its legal arm "Facebook France" in May 2012, meaning complaints have to be filed in the US.

The teacher's lawyer Stéphane Cottineau hailed the court ruling as a "first victory won by David against Goliath".

"It's hugely significant because this decision creates jurisprudence not just for Facebook but for other social media networks who use their being headquartered abroad, mainly in the United States, to attempt to evade French law," Cottineau told The Local.

"They might be multi-nationals but the court ruling means they are not outside French law. If they set up in France and contract workers here then French law must be applied to them," he added.

Story continues below…

The lawyer said this was an "abusive clause" as none of the 30 million Facebook users in France "can ever take recourse to French legal jurisdiction in the event of a dispute."

He now expects a court in France to hear the teacher's case, when it will have to decide whether or not his freedom of expression had been violated when Facebook blocked his account.

Cottineau said he was finally "satisfied" that French courts can now rule over "Facebook's failure to make a difference between art and pornography and the question of freedom of expression on the social network.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available