Nude painting case: Facebook can be tried in France, rules Paris court

The social networking company Facebook blocked the account of a French professor and art lover after he uploaded a picture of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 canvas ‘The Origin of the World’, which shows a close-up view of female genitals.
Frederic Durand-Baissas, a 57-year-old Parisian teacher and art lover whose Facebook account was suspended five years ago without prior notice for posting a photo of a famous 19th-century nude painting.(AP)
Frederic Durand-Baissas, a 57-year-old Parisian teacher and art lover whose Facebook account was suspended five years ago without prior notice for posting a photo of a famous 19th-century nude painting.(AP)
Updated on Feb 12, 2016 11:51 PM IST
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Reuters | By HT Correspondent, Paris

A French court ruled on Friday that a case against Facebook over a painting of a nude woman can be tried in France, rejecting Facebook’s argument that it is governed by Californian law.

The social networking company blocked the account of a French professor and art lover after he uploaded a picture of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 canvas ‘The Origin of the World’, which shows a close-up view of female genitals.

The Paris appeal court’s decision upheld a lower court ruling in March 2015 that a clause in Facebook’s terms of agreement signed by users was ‘abusive’ in reserving exclusive rights to a California court to hear disputes.

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, had appealed against a Paris high court’s authority to hear the case but the appeal court said Facebook’s claim was inadmissible.

Facebook said French courts were not competent to handle the case and that the contract with the user was “not a consumer contract because Facebook’s service was free.”

But a high court judge ruled in 2015 that, “if the proposed service was free to the user, Facebook was generating significant profits from the business, including via paid applications, advertising and other resources.”

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