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Tuesday, 18 January 2005

GUEST BLOG FROM FRANCE


Now here's a piece, lovingly translated into English, from the IPKat's friend and fellow blogger Jean-Baptiste Soufron:

Last December, the AFA (the French ISP Association) announced that it had been asked by the SCPP (the French version of the RIAA) to cut 20 P2P users off from the internet. Led by Vivendi Universal Music’s Chairman Pascal Negre, the SCPP based its claims on a recent French Internet Law, the Loi Pour la Confiance dans l’Economie Numérique (LCEN, the Digital Economy Confidence Act) Article 8 of which allowed Courts to suspend any obviously illegal content. They invoked special urgency procedures, seeking to avoid confronting the P2P users and avoiding the bad publicity such a thing could bring to French Music Producers.

The French Court refused to accede to the SCPP's request. Its decision of 8 October has just been made available by the Forum des Droits sur l’internet (Forum of Rights on Internet) here and here.

Instead granting the SCPP’s requests, the judge explained that nothing in the case justified the use of such procedures and that the claimants had to go through the full normal procedure. Copyright infringements are never obvious enough to allow Courts to avoid hearing defence rights ("la SCPP ne précise pas les raisons pour lesquelles elle serait fondée à ne pas appeler les parties en cause": the SCPP is unable to give any reason why it would be allowed not to be addressed by the parties to the case).

The judge adds an interesting argument, limiting the scope of the LCEN by stating that Article 8 does not allow the courts to cancel contracts between ISP and users so as to cut them from internet: all it does it to allow courts to suspend access to disputed content temporarily: ("la mesure sollicitée à savoir la résiliation d’une convention permettant l’accès à internet ne ressort pas de la compétence du juge des requêtes": the request to cancel a contract providing internet access is not in the power of this Court).

Jean-Baptiste-Soufron: "good news" ... till SCPP tries again

Pascal Negre’s SCPP thus suffered two set-backs in one go. First, they were denied the right to deal with an ISP without the burden of a real trial. Secondly they gave the courts an opportunity to give a new insight on the recent French Law by stating that it must not be interpreted as a tool to cut P2P users from the internet.

It’s quite possible that the French SCPP will soon give it a new try, but it’s good news until then.

The IPKat thanks Jean-Baptiste for his blog and hopes to receive lots of comments on this controversial decision.

Un Weblog Juridique here

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