‘L’Origine du Monde’! Facebook Can be Sued if it Tries to Censor Content, Says French CourtPosted: March 7, 2015
Frenchman whose Facebook account was shut by the social media giant after he posted an image of an explicit 19th century painting cries victory after Paris High Court rules his legal complaint can be handled in France
Henry Samuel, Paris: The High Court in Paris has set a legal precedent after ruling that the American social media giant Facebook can be taken to court in France.
“I felt like they were indirectly treating me like a pornographer whereas this is a French painting hanging in a museum. It annoys me to be censored.”
The ruling was made after Frédéric Durand-Baissas, a teacher and father-of-three, posted a picture of L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), an 1866 painting by Gustave Courbet that hangs in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, on his Facebook account.
“The tableau, which depicts a close-up of the female genitalia, was deemed “too offensive” for Facebook and removed, and the user subsequently blocked.”
Arguing that his freedom of expression had been violated, Mr Durand-Baissas filed a legal complaint to the Parisian court.
“I felt like they were indirectly treating me like a pornographer whereas this is a French painting hanging in a museum. It annoys me to be censored,” he told BFM TV.
During a hearing in January, Facebook had argued French justice was not competent to handle the case as the man had signed the social media group’s terms that stipulate only American courts can handle disputes.
“The first round has been won by David against Goliath. Given the Paris High Court’s aura, this decision will set a legal precedent for other socal media networks and other giants of the net that use the location of their headquarters, mainly in the United States, to try and escape French law.”
It also said he could not expect French consumers’ rights as the service was free and he had opened an account on his own initiative.
But the court found Facebook’s compulsory clause on jurisdiction, in which only a California court can handle disputes, to be “abusive”.
Mr Cottineau described the decision as a “real victory”.
“The first round has been won by David against Goliath,” he told AFP….(read more)
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